2016 NHL Draft Bruins 1st round: Mixed bag

Where to start?

You spend an entire season watching players and investing your time and energy in them. You trust your instincts and you check your various lists and rankings, second-guessing yourself and wondering if you have it right. And to be completely honest, you go into it knowing that the various NHL scouts who represent their teams will likely take a completely different route than the one you have envisioned for them.

Such is the case with the Boston Bruins and the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

The Bruins, to the surprise of few, made Boston University defenseman Charlie McAvoy the team’s top selection at 14th overall in the 1st round, adding an extremely talented two-way defender to the mix. Those who follow this blog will know that I had Dante Fabbro rated slightly higher, but at this point, it is six one way, half dozen the other. McAvoy was the right pick for a team desperately in need of some skill, aggressive offense, and swagger. He’s a Long Island, N.Y. kid who should have been a senior in high school this season and instead was turning heads for one of the most storied NCAA programs with his aggressive offensive mindset and an ability to push the pace and generate offense from the blue line. In short, McAvoy is exactly what the doctor ordered as a player who was a different player (in a good way) from the one who began the season in November to the one we saw in March.

Talk to McAvoy for more than a minute and it’s hard not to like the kid. He’s honest, engaging and let’s face it- when you watch the way he skates and control the play, what does it matter that he grew up in New York loving all of those hated sports teams if you are a proud Bostonian/New Englander? He’s already embraced the Boston tradition and although he admits to being a NY Giants fan, it is clear that McAvoy knows the score and is drinking the Olde Towne Kool Aide.

All of this is just window dressing, however.

The kid can flat-out play. He’s only 6-feet in height, but he’s a thick 205 pounds already and I expect him to maybe play one more season at BU before he’s ready to turn pro. He skates so well, and moves the puck like a seasoned pro already. This blog beat the drum on Fabbro, but in all honesty- the margin between the two right-shooting defensemen was razor-thin and McAvoy is a solid selection at 14.

The Bruins then had a chance to make another splash at 29, with the 1st-round pick acquired from San Jose for Martin Jones last offseason, and here’s where things went off the rails from conventional thought

Center Trent Frederic ended up being the second of the B’s 1st-round selections. No- it was Frederic at 29… Really?

When I heard Boston owner Charles Jacobs announce “From the U.S. National Team…” I was thinking left-shooting D Ryan Lindgren or RW Joey Anderson (both of whom are Minnesota products)…Frederic was not on the radar in the 1st round. I saw him at the Under-18s in Grand Forks last April and I’m still trying to figure this one out- bear with me.

Let’s start out with the good, shall we? He’s a big kid- 6-foot-2, and 205 pounds. He’s heavy on the puck- a centerman from St. Louis who can grind it out and patterns his own game after Blues captain David Backes. He skates well enough and after talking to BU coach David Quinn,  who tried hard to recruit Frederic to the Terriers only to lose him to the University of Wisconsin, he said that the 29th overall pick is a “sleeper” who is an “athlete” and might end up being a better pro player than an amateur. It’s hard to doubt Quinn, who knows his hockey and is destined to be an NHL coach soon (assuming that’s what he wants out of life). Frederic has some nice NHL-caliber measurables and comes out of the storied U.S. National Team program in a record-breaking year for top-30 selections.

Having said that…the Bruins took this guy in the first round? Is it at least possible they could have waited and gotten Frederic later on?

I guess we’ll never know and the beauty of scouting is that you feel passionate about certain players and therefore, a player like Frederic, who by all accounts is a leader and quality young man, end up being someone taken well earlier than where the public lists have him.

I don’t know, though. I was struck by his gregariousness and the fact that Toronto president Brendan Shanahan went out of his way to embrace Frederic and congratulate him on his selection.

Unfortunately, I was also at the Under-18 Championship in Grand Forks, N.D. and I’m pretty sure I can name at least 30 players there I had ahead of Frederic in terms of how I would project them for the NHL. That doesn’t mean I’m right here, but I never even entertained him as a first-round option in 2016.

I guess it comes down to this question: Are you good with selecting a 4th line center with maybe 3rd line upside in the first round? If you are, then Frederic’s intangibles make him more than worth that standing. However, when you get down to it, he simply wasn’t projected there, and the NHL scouting community (at least multiple sources I have) did not react favorably to the pick.

Quinn thinks that Frederic has what it takes to go on to have NHL success, and if you’re a fan of Chris Kelly, then there’s something to be said for that. Unfortunately, with other players available along the lines of Wade Allison, Alex DeBrincat, Markus Niemelainen, Kale Clague, Adam Mascherin, Vitali Abramov, Carl Grundstrom, Boris Katchouk, Will Bitten, Rasmus Asplund, Lindgren, Anderson, and many others- Frederic simply doesn’t seem to make much sense. It’s one of those picks that makes you wonder if the B’s were bidding against themselves, and there’s no shaking the questions here.

I like Frederic based on the brief interaction I had with him tonight- He seems honest and straightforward- I want to like him as a Bruins prospect. But, I can’t get past the feeling that the Bruins outsmarted themselves here. A good personality and rock solid character does not an NHL player make.

I guess we’ll find out what Day 2 has in store, but after the buzz of McAvoy at 14, it’s hard to see what the impetus was behind a guy whose ranking by my own scouting service was 112.

Maybe Quinn is right and Frederic is that sleeper who will end up being the better pro in the long run, but it sure seems as if 29 was much too early to invest on a player who is as of today the definition of a “safe” center with a limited NHL ceiling.

The jury will be out for a while here, but in the wake of a nice value with McAvoy, Frederic does nothing but beg more questions…and that’s not exactly how Bruins fans wanted to draw things up.

I’ll be back with more later on Saturday, and we’ll see where the rest of this draft adventure leads…

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “2016 NHL Draft Bruins 1st round: Mixed bag

  1. On Frederic, I have yet to read anything suggesting that this was a good use of a first round pick. But I seem to recall that guys like Bergeron and Lucic were considered “overdrafts” when they were taken, but looking back they were both obviously good picks in the second round (and would have been great value even if taken in the first).

    Is there any chance we are looking at something similar here? Obviously not the same type of player as either of those two, but could the Bruins just have him legitimately rated much higher than the conventional wisdom would suggest, as they did with Bergeron and Lucic back in the day?

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    • Yes, Mike…there is always a chance.

      As I said to Josh above- consult multiple resources and do your own research, as I am sure you will do. You will undoubtedly find that as a high floor-character guy, there are worse swings of the bat to take. Frederic is not the guy I would have picked at 29, but I could have it completely wrong. Markus Niemelainen went way lower than where I had him, and as it turns out- the projections in the 50s-60s weren’t so “absurd” after all.

      Projections on 17-18 year olds are tough- if it was easy, then no team would need scouts.

      I have lots and lots of time for Cam Clarke in the 5th round, though- great pick. I think the Bruins hit it out of the park with the 3 D they drafted- every one of them brings something different to the table and all of them have that higher-end potential fans have been clamoring for.

      Thanks for reading

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  2. I don’t understand why Sweeney didn’t trade down for an early second round pick and acquire an extra asset. I can understand wanting to pick the guy, but you’ve gotta question the asset management. I mean I heard with Senyshyn that Toronto was going to nab him in the first round, so I can understand not trading down in that scenario (kind of), but I haven’t heard anything like that with Frederic. Maybe it’s too early. I did see one post that 20 different teams had him late in the second round or lower. Every asset matters in an ultra-competitive league and it seems like we’ve wasted so many (see trade deadline debacle).

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    • I addressed it in the podcast, Josh. I hope you had a chance to listen.

      Questioning the asset management is fair, I suppose- if we lived in a perfect world, there would never be anything to complain about.

      I think the whole Trent Frederic hubbub is much ado over nothing, generated by people who are quick to judge based on what others are telling them and very little in the way of facts or perspective. Sure- the Bruins “reached” a bit, but depending on who you talk to, and I spent a lot of time talking to a former coach at the National Team and a major NCAA D1 coach who tried and failed to land Frederic for his program- he’s better than people give him credit for. We’ll see, but there are worse things to be up in arms about.

      Research it…study it…consult multiple resources- you just might open up the mind enough to take a more patient, wait-and-see approach. If not, that’s fine too. It would be a boring world if everyone agreed on everything 100%.

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      • Hey Kirk, sorry, did not get to listen to the podcast, was just going on the print. Will give it a spin if I get a chance.

        I’m not worried about Frederic developing in a bottom six role, hopefully that pans out. I’m no expert on prospects.

        I’d wager a guess that the hubbub is more about the asset mgmt problems, and this seemed like one obvious example. There are lots of debatable moves — Rinaldo acquisition (lost 3d), “renting” Eriksson (at least a 2d + 3d), renting Stempniak and Liles (2d, 3d, 4th, 5th), trading Hamilton at all (and/or below value) and Chiarelli’s connolly acquisition (2d, 2d) — that account for a ton of lost picks. Sure some of the moves might have been justified at the time (Connolly, hindsight is 20/20) or too hard to stomach (Eriksson), but most seemed like garbage at the time (including Hamilton, see Yzerman’s handling of Drouin). Then add in the lost cap space from MillerQuaid , probably $1.5M over cost of replacement, it’s just tough to stomach. And failing to manage a high draft pick by “reaching” strikes me as a similar failure, not because the player shouldn’t have been selected, but because you could have acquired some value from moving back even 10 spots.

        Hubub over Frederic himself is definitely misplaced at this point, I just tend to think people are beefing about all the rest and a reach pick is just a lightning rod for it. Sorry if this duplicated what you said in your podcast. I wish we had a savvy upper management team that valued and quantified everything like the up and comers in PHX, TOR, FLA, and elsewhere.

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