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Defense again looks like B's biggest need at No. 14

June 8, 2016, 3:40 PM ET [11 Comments]
Ty Anderson
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As it stands right now, the Boston Bruins will have two first-round selections in this year’s NHL Draft in Buffalo, N.Y. One of those picks, their own, will be the 14th overall. The other, obtained from San Jose in the Martin Jones trade, will be either 29th or 30th, depending on how the Stanley Cup Final series between the Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins, a series in which the Penguins currently lead 3-1, ends.

General manager Don Sweeney’s first draft, while noteworthy, was probably not his favorite. Sweeney and the Bruins unsuccessfully tried to trade their way into the Noah Hanifin sweepstakes (selected by the Carolina Hurricanes with the fifth overall pick), and settled on three consecutive picks in the middle of the first round with Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zach Senyshyn selected at 14-16.

In total, the Bruins finished the 2015 Draft with three defensemen selected, with Zboril at No. 14, Brandon Carlo at No. 37, and puckmover Jeremy Lauzon at No. 52 overall.

But Sweeney’s hunt for that franchise defenseman of tomorrow, a defenseman with over 1,000 games of NHL experience between Boston and Dallas through his NHL career, especially with Dougie Hamilton shipped out of town for three picks last summer, doesn’t seem over just yet.

In fact, that No. 14 pick seems primed to be used on another defenseman.

Thus far, Dante Fabbro and Charlie McAvoy have been the go-to names mentioned when discussing the B’s draft night plans. The difference between the value of a Fabbro and McAvoy, at least as of right now, seems to be microscopically thin. The incomparable Kirk Luedeke of the New England Hockey Journal and Red Line Report touched on that in a great story on his personal site, too.

From the Scouting Post:

These two are very close and you pretty much have to flip a coin between them. Having live scouted both, it is hard to imagine that teams seriously considering one or the other see a wide gulf between them- they’re extremely close in terms of what they bring to the table and that all-important “upside” when it comes to defenders in this day and age of the NHL. In the end, their combine interviews, coupled with whether both are on the board when Boston picks, may be the deciding factor if one or the other gets the call.

The good news for Boston fans is that if both are off the board at 14 (and that’s entirely possible), then that means a couple of pretty good players who weren’t projected to be available at 14 going into the draft will be sitting there for the B’s. Assuming, of course, that they want them.


Of the two, I’m undoubtedly more familiar with McAvoy as a freshman at Boston University this past season. When I did catch Terriers games, I constantly felt impressed by McAvoy’s strides out of his own zone and ability to push pace the other way. The exits were clean, and his game, while unpolished at the NCAA level (McAvoy turned 18 this past December), was definitely noticeable. Fabbro, who scored 14 goals and totaled 67 points in 45 games for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL, will join McAvoy at B.U. this fall, too, which makes him even more of a push for the Bruins, in my opinion.

If there’s one thing the Black and Gold really love, it’s the ability to watch their guys up close and in person just a few minutes from TD Garden. In addition to a more ‘hands on’ and organic development track that creates stronger communication skills between the prospect and the organization, guys skating in Boston’s backyard also allow the club to have a stronger watchful presence when it comes to the player’s growth as a professional on and off the ice. Something of significant importance, it’d seem.

D-man Jake Bean, though most seem to expect him to go a little bit before the B’s select at 14, is another player that’s garnered interest throughout the Hub’s fanbase. Bean has interviewed with the Bruins, and described his game (which reads as a plus) to CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty.

From CSNNE:

“For me, my biggest thing is strength and I know that’s going to come with time,” said Bean. “If I can just keep on the track I’m on then I’ll be okay. I don’t know if my [draft pick] expectations have any numerical value. For me it’s the team that’s the best fit for me, and the one that likes me the most.

“I think I’m a good, two-way defenseman that makes a good first pass, plays big minutes in big games against the other team’s top lines. I think I’ve improved a lot [in the WHL], and a lot of parts of me physically, mentally and on the ice have gotten a lot better. Getting better every day is something I have a lot of fun with.”


Barring a trade, the Bruins will have seven picks in this year’s draft, though none in rounds three or four. But it sounds like this draft will begin with Boston’s biggest need: Defense.

Ty Anderson has been covering the National Hockey League for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, has been a member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association's Boston Chapter since 2013, and can be contacted on Twitter, or emailed at Ty.AndersonHB[at]gmail.com.
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