Now that this year's NHL draft is history, the only thing teams can do is sit back and hope they made the right selections. Sure, they'll monitor each of the prospect's progress in junior, college or even pro leagues, but the only thing the team can do is hope that their scouting reports were thorough enough to make the right picks.
This is especially important for the Boston Bruins, who made their second Stanley Cup Final in three years but came up short against the Chicago Blackhawks. Two of their recent draft picks—Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton—were in the lineup in the playoffs.
While they didn't have a first-round pick due to the Jaromir Jagr trade, the B's think they drafted some good prospects in the later rounds. The trade for Jagr seemed to pay off as they made it deep in the playoffs, and Jagr was an effective player for them, even though he didn't score any goals. But they didn't have a pick until 59 players had been chosen, so they were at a disadvantage.
Here are the best-case scenarios for each of the picks made by the B's at Sunday's draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The first pick the Bruins made was Swedish defenseman Linus Arnesson. Arnesson, who is 6'2" and 187 pounds, was selected in the second round, 60th overall.
Caryn Switaj of BostonBruins.com reports Arnesson was one of 15 European players to be invited to the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto, Ontario before the draft. In the final rankings, the 18-year-old was tapped as the 13th-best European skater and second-best defenseman.
According to hockeysfuture.com, he played for the Djurgarden junior team in his native country, and registered one assist and eight penalty minutes in 31 regular season games.
"We were really excited about getting our first pick Linus Arnesson," Bruins director of amateur scouting Wayne Smith said from the draft floor.
Arnesson was part of Sweden's silver-medal winning team at the World Junior Championships in Russia this past year and was one of the youngest members of the team.
The Bruins' head European scout compared their second-round selection to Dennis Seidenberg and soon-to-be free agent Andrew Ference. From the Bruins' Twitter page:
European head scout Jukka Holtari said Arnesson has Seides/Ference upside; steady, anticipates play,"appreciate him the more you see him"^CS— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 1, 2013
Arnesson has good size and is quick in his own corners. The best case for the Bruins is that he can become a regular in their defensive core in a few years, probably in their third pairing to start, with a chance at becoming the third or fourth defenseman down the road.
Think of Arnesson as comparable to Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson was taken 108th overall and played three more years in Sweden before coming to North America, and is now a two-time Cup champion and a regular on the Blackhawks' back end. Expect Arnesson to do something similar in terms of a timeline of joining the NHL.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli expressed his admiration for their top choice to the B's media department, which was posted on the Bruins' Twitter page:
Chiarelli said Arensson is a real solid defender; Cehlarik is "hands & a little bit of Handzus"-2-way, good passing, vision, good size ^CS— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 1, 2013
Left-winger Peter Cehlarik was taken in the third round, 90th overall.
Bruins scout Jukka Holtari had high praise for their second pick of the draft, via the Bruins' Twitter page:
Scout Jukka Holtari on LW Peter Cehlarik (90th pick): "smart, skilled, well-sized; style of play reminds me a little bit of Anze Kopitar"^CS— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 1, 2013
While you can't expect Cehlarik to turn into Kopitar, he does have the assets for it. He's big, for one thing. According to NHL.com, Cehlarik is 6'2", 192 pounds and will be tough to knock off the puck.
According to WEEI.com's DJ Bean, Cehlarik was a point-per-game player last year in Sweden. The photo shown above, taken by Kristian Johansson of Luleå Hockey, shows Cehlarik playing for the junior team Lulea. He finished with 17 goals and 20 assists in 37 games last year for the junior team, and registered six points in eight games in the senior league.
Hockey Prospectus' Corey Pronman's take, via Peter Dawson of Sportsmedia101.com:
"He shows quality physical value in terms of his ability to protect the puck and win battles. Cehlarik is a skilled individual as well, and he can make above-average plays with the puck. He shows good vision as a playmaker, making quick decisions and processing the game well, especially considering his age and the SEL-level competition. His major issue is his skating, which is notably below average. He has a sluggish first few steps, and his top gear is not threatening.”
The best case for Boston is that he can become the same type of scorer he has been in Sweden. Expect him to stay overseas for a couple years, but he's the type of player that could make an impact in the league in his rookie year. If he can score 20-25 goals during any season with the Bruins, this third round pick pays off tremendously.
European players have a history of being steals in the later rounds (i.e. Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Petr Bondra). Bruins fans should hope for, but not expect, the same for Cehlarik. If he can improve his skating, he could turn out to be a steal.
After drafting two Europeans with their first two picks, the Bruins selected a local product for their third-round choice in nabbing North Reading, Mass., native Ryan Fitzgerald with the 120th-overall selection.
Ryan comes from a hockey family.
His father Tom played 17 seasons and over 1,000 games in the NHL, and currently serves as an assistant general manger for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ryan's uncle Scott is the assistant director of amateur scouting for the Bruins. Do you think he pushed for this pick?
Ryan Fitzgerald played this past season for Valley Junior Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League and will be sticking around Boston this fall to play for NCAA powerhouse Boston College.
He's a small guy—5'10" and 170 pounds—and will need to add some muscle while he's in college. But he could be an effective grinder down the road. The best case for the Bruins is that he learns how to be a very smart two-way player at BC, and he could turn that into an energy role in the NHL if he works hard and catches a few breaks.
Expect Fitzgerald to stay at Boston College through graduation. Fitzgerald could be an effective third-line forward someday—similar to Tyler Kennedy or Dave Bolland—and those are players that you need to win in the playoffs. He won't be known for his goal scoring if he makes it to the NHL, but that doesn't mean he can't be a valuable asset someday.
The Bruins stayed in New England for their fourth-round choice and took Connecticut native Wiley Sherman 150th overall.
Sherman is a 6'6", 205-pound defenseman who will be playing at Harvard University this fall (the alma mater of GM Peter Chiarelli). Sherman played high school hockey for the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut this past year, notching 10 points in 26 games with 32 penalty minutes.
According to ESPN.com, he had a final scouting ranking of 104.
One scout told Scott Barbosa that he reminded him of Hal Gill:
“He’s obviously a big frame at 6-6, and he can defend. He’s an excellent skater for someone so tall. He has a great base and foundation to play on. Has a little meanness, too, and he’ll do whatever has to to protect the house. I think of him along the lines of a Hal Gill.”
The best-case scenario for the Bruins is similar to the scout's take: that he turns into a big bruising defenseman to clear guys out of the front of the net. With his size, he should be able to do just that. If he can continue to develop that mean streak at Harvard, he could be a solid blueliner one day.
Don't expect to see Sherman in the B's lineup for a few years, but he could be a nice addition in the future. Defensemen typically take longer to develop than forwards, so the Bruins aren't going to rush Sherman at all.
Anton Blidh of Sweden was taken 180th overall in the sixth round. A 5'11" left-winger, Blidh (pronounced bleed) had 37 points in 43 games in Sweden's U-20 league this year, according to eliteprospects.com. He also registered 90 penalty minutes.
Here is what one scout told Eliteprospects.com about Blidh:
A speedy and hardworking player. Good penalty killer. Solid team player. Always gives 100% and has great attitude and work ethics.
If that description by the scout is accurate, Blidh has a chance to make the Bruins roster someday, even though he's a sixth-rounder. His speed, physicality and unselfishness will blend right in with the Bruins' style of play. Penalty killing will be his biggest asset as he tries to make his way through the Bruins' organization.
The best-case scenario for Blidh is that he spends two or three more years in Sweden and is able to eventually compete against men in the Swedish Elite League. If he is able to produce points at a similar rate that he does now, he could crack the Bruins lineup someday, but it is still a long shot at this point. His scoring will most likely decrease as the competition he faces gets better, but the defensive skills he has shown will pay dividends.
Dempsey was the only Canadian drafted this year by the Bruins, after their past three top draft choices (Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamiilton and Malcolm Subban) were all Canadians who played in the Ontario Hockey League. Dempsey is a 6'2" 204-pound left-winger who plays in the OHL for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He previously played for the Plymouth Whalers.
He missed a lot of time last year with an ankle injury and pneumonia, and his stats aren't anything to get excited about—but his mitts are. Dempsey can sling' em, and his fists might get him to the NHL someday. If he can develop enough skill and smarts to be an effective player when not fighting, he could make it to the league after finishing juniors and spending time in the American Hockey League. But don't expect to see him for at least a few years, if at all.
The best-case scenario is that he turns into a enforcing forward who will protect his teammates and drop the gloves when his team needs someone to step up. However, it's a long shot for Dempsey to ever crack the Bruins' lineup.