Best and Worst Bruins Draft Picks 1-30; 1963-2019


I recently posted this to the Bruins sub-Reddit- and thought it deserved a place on my blog.

Took a swing at the Boston Bruins historical draft choices, analyzing the team’s selections since the NHL implemented a rudimentary draft system 56 years ago. Bear in mind that in the pre-1969 years, the draft was different- starting in 1963 thru 1978 it was called the amateur draft before changing to the NHL Entry Draft in 1979 when the teams were allowed to draft 18-year-olds. With fewer teams in the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s, selections outside of 10-20 were 2nd round or later, but for purpose of exercise, I’m going to look at picks 1-30 and call it like I see it.

I’m bucking convention by starting out with 1st overall and work up to 30- in a lot of cases, the early selections for the B’s have not been kind, but in full context- most of the time the team was picking 3-7, it came in the days before the current draft system. And because the B’s had made the playoffs from 1968-97, unless they owned bad teams’ 1st rounders, they rarely got a chance to pick inside the top-10 during that time frame.

1- Best: Joe Thornton, 1997: 1st ballot HHOFer- nuf ced; Trading him opened the door for Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard to join the B’s in 2006, but he’s been everything Jumbo Joe was projected to be as a teen titan with the Soo Greyhounds in 1997. He just turned 40 in July, which, given the shaggy, golden-locked kid who showed up in Boston 22 years ago at not quite 18, seems impossible to square with the grizzled graybeard who has been with the San Jose Sharks for nearly a decade and a half.

Worst: Barry Gibbs, 1966: Journeyman defenseman. He at least played in the NHL to the tune of 796 career games, most of them not with the Bruins. However, Gibbs leads the No. 1 overall bust hit parade not because of what he did, but because of the player who was selected right behind him at No. 2 in ’66 by the NY Rangers. Wait for it…Brad Park. Can you imagine Bobby Orr and Brad Park together on the Boston blue line? It actually happened for a handful of games right before Orr left for the Windy City, but had they been able to play together in their primes, we’re talking at least 2 more Stanley Cups in that era. Yikes. (H/T to Reddit user Timeless_Watch for pointing this out- I moved Kluzak down to HM)

HM: Gord Kluzak, 1982: Oh what could have been? What if…B’s had drafted Brian Bellows or Scott Stevens there instead of Kluzak? Kluzak had knee injuries in junior hockey days and then got blown up in his 2nd NHL season- without the technology to repair knees that we have today, it doomed him to being day-to-day for the rest of his career and an early retirement. He should have been a long-tenured NHL defenseman, but it didn’t happen for him, and unfortunately, he’s more of a footnote in Bruins lore, which is unfortunate.

2- Best: Tyler Seguin, 2010: Character, lack of work ethic will prevent him from maximizing his elite talent, but the guy is still a top-tier player. Taylor Hall has proven he deserved to go 1st overall, and it was close at the time- the B’s and Peter Chiarelli made a terrific move in getting Toronto’s 1st picks in 2010 and 2011 for Phil Kessel- it’s a shame there is nothing left from the Seguin deal to Dallas when he was moved on July 4, 2013- just three short years after he appeared to be the next franchise cornerstone type, and at 19, when he was the first player since Pat Lafontaine in 1984 to make the Stanley Cup final after being a top-2 overall pick the year before. Unlike Lafontaine, Seguin’s team prevailed.

Worst: Alex Campbell, 1964: Never played a game in the NHL, but you know who did? The guy they took at 14th overall that year- Ken Dryden. It’s just…he didn’t play any games for the Bruins as we who were there in the 70’s know all too well.

3- Best: Glen Wesley, 1987: Wesley is Boston’s top choice at 3 as much for his accomplishments as a Bruin (though he was better than he gets credit for after his flub in 1990), but hey- the guy did play in nearly 1500 NHL games, won the Cup with Carolina and its what he did on his way out- netting 3 1st rounders that earns him top honors at 3. Kyle McLaren, Johnathan Aitken (more on him later) & Sergei Samsonov were the picks the B’s got from Hartford in 1994, the latter of whom is still producing players for the B’s with Sean Kuraly and Trent Frederic direct descendants of assets from the Samsonov branch of the Cam Neely-Glen Wesley trade tree way back in 1986.

HM: Reggie Leach, 1970: He was an NHL star during the 70’s and still holds the NHL record for most goals in a playoff season (19 in 16 games in ’76)…but he did his greatest work with the Flyers.

Worst: Orest Romashyna, 1963: Another 0 NHL game wonder who played for New Hamburg Jr. C. If you want someone who actually got to the NHL, Don Tannahill (111 career games, none with the Bruins) takes the cake. Pete Mahovlich was taken by the Red Wings one pick before Romashyna…but the B’s could have taken Walt McKechnie there- he went 6th to the Leafs.

4- Best: Rick MacLeish, 1970: Another excellent selection made right after Leach…and never played a game for the B’s, but did help the Flyers win both Stanley Cups in franchise history.

Worst: Joe Bailey, 1965: Another swing and miss from the old pre-draft days when teams were still recruiting and signing players as their primary means of adding young talent.

5- Phil Kessel, 2006: Well…he’s the ONLY fifth overall pick in team history. And not a bad pick at all- but for the record the B’s really wanted Nicklas Backstrom and couldn’t swing it. Incidentally, Kessel is currently 2nd only to Backstrom in career scoring from the ’06 draft class: 826 points to NB’s 873. Kessel only played three seasons in Boston and postured himself for a trade after scoring 36 goals in 2008-09, getting his wish and going to Toronto for 2 1sts (Seguin, Dougie Hamilton) and a 2nd (Jared Knight). Looking back on 10 years, how is it that other than Hamilton return from Calgary there are no legacy players left from the Kessel-Leafs deal left in the Bruins organization.

6- Best: Andre Savard, 1973: Savard was a solid NHLer but an underachiever given his draft position. Played 3 average seasons for the B’s and was dealt to Buffalo, where he put together some above average years including a 30-goal campaign…finished north of 700 games and 400 points. Post-playing career, he was briefly the GM of the Montreal Canadiens in the early 2000s, and was also a scout and assistant coach.

Worst: Ron Jones, 1971: Edmonton Oil Kings D-man played 8 career games with the B’s- no points. Finished with 54 games in show with Boston, Pittsburgh & Washington.

7- Best: Rick Smith, 1966: Solid defensive D-man who was on Boston’s 1970 SC champion and was traded a few months before they won in 1972. Bounced around the league and came back for 4 more solid campaigns in the late 70’s before calling it quits with the Red Wings in 1981.

Worst: Lars Jonsson, 2000: El bustaroo- really thought this guy was going to be something but didn’t come close. B’s also whiffed on Martin Samuelsson at 27th…one spot before they could have selected Justin Williams who has 1244 NHL games and still going. The compensation pick (37th overall in 2006) that the B’s received for Jonsson signing in Philly- Yuri Alexandrov- was another noted bust…drafted by Boston before they took Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand that year.

8- Best: RAY BOURQUE, 1979: One of the all-time greats, period. Hall of Famer- don’t think anyone will ever break his franchise scoring records. A complete steal at 8th overall (the B’s had the LA Kings’ pick for Ron Grahame) in what is the greatest single NHL draft class in history. He made the team at 18 and the rest is history. We could write a book in this space on Bourque, but what’s the point- in 21 seasons, he was the model of consistency and excellence. And just think- had the Chicago Blackhawks not selected Keith Brown one spot before Bourque, it might not have come to pass- at least that’s the story Harry Sinden likes to tell.

HM: Sergei Samsonov, 1997: At one point, a candidate for first overall, Sammy spent his draft season playing against men in the IHL and was chosen with the final of the three 1st-round picks the Hartford Whalers sent to Boston for Wesley in 1994. When the B’s took Samsonov, the Whalers had just played their last game in Connecticut and were on their way to North Carolina. Samsonov won the 1998 Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie- a player far better positioned to make the jump to the show than Thornton was because of his IHL experience, and Boston was caught up in the buzz of the thunder/lightning aspect of both teens when they arrived. Samsonov had a good, solid career with the B’s playing from 1997-06, before being traded to Edmonton in time for their run to the Stanley Cup Final. Part of that return was the Oil’s 2nd-round pick, the B’s took Lucic.

Worst: Johnathan Aitken, 1996: Yes, the 1996 draft class was shallow as a whole, but it produced some great players (see Chara, Zdeno)- Aitken was not one of them. He was a total bust, and the thing was- there were a lot of misgivings/red flags about him before the draft as a top-10 selection. B’s could’ve had their pick of anyone from Ruslan Salei to Dainius Zubrus to Marco Sturm to Daniel Briere and even Matt Cullen or…Chara. Of course- hindsight is 20/20 but Aitken (44) was one of 11 players out of 26 1st rounders who either didn’t make the NHL or played fewer than 100 career games.

Aitken edges out Zach Hamill as the worst 8th overall pick in team history, though I’m sure a lot of smart folks could make a case for Hamill at this spot, too- but at least he led the WHL in scoring the year he was drafted.

9- Best: Kyle McLaren, 1995: McLaren popped early and was for a few years, considered the heir apparent to Ray Bourque. A couple of holdouts (pretty common as was the case in the pre-salary cap NHL of the 90’s and early 2000s) prevented him from playing during critical developmental years after making the team as an 18-YO. He was big, mobile and tough- later dealt to San Jose in the Jeff Hackett trade. Jarome Iginla was taken two picks later at 11th overall.

HM: Dougie Hamilton, 2011: He may eclipse McLaren at some point but not there yet for me anyhow. He’s certainly a better point-producer, but McLaren a better defender. Both were malcontents when they departed. Flip a coin, I guess.

Worst: Terrance Lane, 1963; Bill Ramsay, 1965: Who? Exactamundo.

10- Meehan Bonnar, 1967: Believe it or not, this is the only time in history that the Bruins have owned the 10th overall selection in any draft, and they spent it on a right wing who played for notable teams such as the Port Huron Flags and Des Moines Oak Leafs of the IHL before closing out his pro career in the AHL for a couple of seasons. Yuck. Only 3 of 18 players selected that year played in the NHL, and most notable was Serge Bernier, who played for Philly & L.A. but was a star in the WHA with the Quebec Nordiques (played a bit role in their 1st 2 NHL seasons)

11- Ivan Boldirev, 1969: The only 11th overall pick in franchise history and a pretty good one. The Yugoslavia-born, Canada-raised player was a star for the OHA’s (now OHL) Oshawa Generals and was one of Boston’s top young farmhands with a handful of games in Boston before he went to the California Golden Seals. By a quirk of old rules, Boldirev got his name engraved on the Stanley Cup with the rest of the B’s 1970 championship team…before he ever suited up in the NHL! The league subsequently changed the policy to what it is now. Boldirev was a great puckhandler and went on to play more than 1,000 games and posted more than 800 career points.

12- Danny Schock, 1968: The only 12th overall selection- the Estevan Bruins standout played a handful of games with the Bruins and Flyers in 1970-71 before bouncing around the minor leagues (48 goals with the Richmond Robins of the AHL in 1973). Tough year, 1968- role player and Brown University product Curt Bennett (508 games) whose dad Harvey played one season as goalie for the Bruins in 1944-45 before playing years for the AHL’s Providence Reds, was the only player drafted after Schock who went on to any kind of NHL success.

13- Best: Craig Janney, 1986: The Boston College star and 1988 U.S. Olympian became one of the B’s brightest young stars from 88-92 until he was the centerpiece in the trade with St. Louis for Adam Oates. Janney was a pure passer who could thread the needle and had some excellent seasons with Cam Neely, playing on 2 runs to the Stanley Cup final series and posting a 90+ point year before his trade to the Blues. Health issues forced a premature retirement, but Janney roved he could be an offensive catalyst. His time in St. Louis ended with some personal issues and he bounced around a bit before having to hang them up, but in the end, he was a legitimate NHL center who could have had a much longer/productive career in Boston had Oates not unexpectedly come available.

Worst: Jakub Zboril, 2015: Yes, it’s early (and probably a tad unfair- but there haven’t been many other picks in team history at 13)…and he made perfect sense at the time, but since the B’s made him their 1st of 3 straight picks, he’s yet to really establish himself as the player the team thought they were getting. He could still turn it around, but his work ethic is lacking, and even with his size/skating/offense, he’s more of a serviceable role player type in the NHL than a true 2-way impact D. Hope I’m wrong. And yes, these comments will probably invite the “Shoulda taken Barzal, Connor, Chabot, etc.” comments- it is what it is I guess- context is key, and Zboril’s development has been slow at best- not sure he’s ever going to figure it out in this organization because if he’s not skilled enough to play in your top-3, he may not be diligent enough defensively to round out your rotation 4-7 and be able to stick in the NHL. We’ll see- big year for him, and certainly want him to succeed in Boston.

HM: Bob Stewart, 1970- was a journeyman D who hardly played for the B’s, but bounced around the league to the tune of 576 games. The B’s could have had Dan Maloney, Mike Murphy, Bill Clement, Bob Kelly or Yvon Lambert, so if you don’t like the Zboril pick, you can go with Stewart.

14- Best: Terry O’Reilly, 1971: One of the easiest calls on the list to make. The B’s made Taz their 2nd pick in 1971 at 14th in the 2nd round, but he blew away Ron Jones to become one of the most beloved players in Boston history and was the spirit animal of those Big, Bad Bruins teams after a standout career with the Oshawa Generals. Player, coach and true Bruin who spent his entire pro career with this organization, he probably could have played longer than his 891 games and added more to his 606 points, but he was one of a kind.

HM1: Ken Dryden, 1964: The B’s drafted him, then traded Dryden to their arch rivals for 2 guys who never even came close to playing in the NHL. He was probably not as good a goalie as his legacy indicates because of the dynastic Habs teams he played for, but when it came to playing the Bruins, he started by shocking the NHL’s most deadly offense (to that point in history) with the upset in 1971, and always had Boston’s number each and every spring they met until his retirement in 1979.

HM 2/3: Charlie McAvoy, 2016 and Jake DeBrusk, 2015: This dynamic young duo might end up challenging for top honors one day, but we have a long, long way to go. Suffice to say, though that between Taz, Dryden, McAvoy and DeBrusk, the B’s have had tremendous success with the 14th overall selection.

Worst: Roger Bamburak, 1963: Played at University of North Dakota and pro career didn’t last. Slim pickings in that draft after round 1, but B’s could’ve had Jim McKenny and Gerry Meehan.

HM: Stephane Quintal, 1987: On pure NHL longevity he doesn’t deserve to be on list of worst- he played over 1,000 career NHL games, BUT- the Bruins passed on Joe Sakic to take him, so… Along with Janney, Quintal was sent to the Blues in the Oates trade.

15- Best: Brad McCrimmon, 1979: The 2nd 1st-rounder for the B’s in 1979 after some guy named Ray, McCrimmon also made the team immediately (albeit as a 20-year-old) after a stellar junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings. McCrimmon was a stalwart defensive D and was traded to Philly in 1982 for Pete Peeters, who immediately “won” the trade with his sensational Vezina Trophy year in 1983, but the steady McCrimmon became one of the NHL’s most valuable 2-way defenders in his career, winning the Stanley Cup in 1989 with Calgary and finishing with 1,200 career NHL games. He was just beginning his job as a head coach in Europe when he tragically lost his life with the rest of the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team in a plane crash that killed all on board early in the 2011-12 Russian pro season.

Worst: Zach Senyshyn, 2015: Like Zboril, it’s probably way early to be putting him on a worst list, but aside from McCrimmon, Senyshyn is the only other 15th pick in team history. To be clear- I’m not hating on him, but it’s been a tougher slog for the immediately polarizing pick who was taken by the Bruins after Jake DeBrusk with a bevy of higher-ranked and subsequent NHL impact forwards available at pick 15. At just 22, Senyshyn has time to turn things around, but like Zboril, the clock is ticking and vultures are circling. Senyshyn posted back-to-back 40+ goal years in the OHL after he was drafted, but NHL scouts I talked to as he was coming out of junior said he lacked details in his game at the time- his transition to pro has borne that out, as he’s struggled to get the ice time and role expected of him/his scoring tools. Don’t want to write him off, but with each passing day that he doesn’t make an NHL impression, the pressure ratchets up for him to figure it out.

16- Best: Al Secord, 1978: One of my first hockey idols. Like O’Reilly, Secord, who was drafted out of the OHA’s Hamilton Fincups, was born to be a Bruin, playing sans helmet and showing scoring and pure toughness on those Big, Bad Bruins teams. He was one of the B’s who infamously went into the MSG stands to do battle with Mike Milbury during “Loafer-gate” when Milbury beat a fan with his own show. Secord was traded to Chicago for Mike O’Connell after some friction with Harry Sinden and it’s a deal that I never really got over- Secord went on to pot 50 goals for the ‘Hawks and I became a closet Chicago fan for a lot of years because of it. Injuries ultimately doomed him from a longer, more productive career, but Secord walked away from hockey and became an airline pilot & now lives in Dallas. Got to meet my idol in Dallas in May while I was assisting with a hockey camp- he told some great stories and it was an honor to finally meet him.

Worst: Clayton Pachal, 1976: Woof. Played a few scoreless games for the B’s and was then off to the Colorado Rockies where his NHL career sputtered. B’s could’ve had any one of Brian Sutter, Reed Larson, Randy Carlyle, Kent Nilsson, Ken Morrow or Mike Liut in net to name a few, plus myriad other journeyman options (Barry Melrose anyone?) who would’ve been better than Pachal. Ouch.

Other less-than-stellar 16th overalls: Joe Colborne (2008) and Dmitri Kvartalnov (1992) but at least they had somewhat of an impact in the show.

17- Shayne Stevenson, 1989: The only 17th overall pick in team history is another miss, but at the time, it made sense for the B’s: Stevenson was an early riser as a power forward prospect out of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers who played with real toughness and could skate/score. He had off-ice issues that derailed his NHL career, and limited him to just a few games with Boston and Tampa. The veteran-laden Bruins were a bad situation for him, as there weren’t many young guys he could be around, and was kind of left on his own.

18- Best: Barry Pederson, 1980: Victoria Cougars (WHL) superstar Pederson was a steal that late in the 1st who went supernova early in his NHL career with the B’s- he set the still-standing team record for goals by a rookie (44 with a team record 92 points at the time- since broken by Joe Juneau in 1993) and finished 2nd in Calder Trophy voting to Dale Hawerchuk as rookie of the year in 1982. He and Rick Middleton had instant chemistry and with Mike Krushelnyski formed a dangerous trio until Krushelnyski’s trade to Edmonton in 1984. A benign tumor in shoulder required surgery in summer of ’84 and he played just 22 games in 84-85 before he needed a second, more invasive surgery- his production dropped off in 85-86 and he was the centerpiece in the transformational Cam Neely trade on June 6, 1986. Pederson had some decent seasons with the Canucks and was a role player on Pittsburgh’s 1991 championship team, but never again approached his 2 straight 100-point seasons from 1982-84.

HM: Glen Murray, 1991: Muzz was a solid pick out of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves and was just coming into his own with the B’s when he was dealt to Pittsburgh with Bryan Smolinski in 1995 for Kevin Stevens. Murray blossomed with the L.A. Kings and was reacquired in late 2001 (with Jozef Stumpel) for Jason Allison. Murray went on to post consecutive 40-goal years and was a key part of the 700-pound line with Joe Thornton and Mike Knuble. He stayed with the B’s until his retirement in 2008.

Worst: Don Larway, 1974: Zero NHL games, serviceable WHA guy with the Houston Aeros. B’s drafted Larway four spots before the NY Islanders chose…Bryan Trottier. Urk!

HM: Rob Cimetta, 1988: Had a lot of hype coming out of the Toronto Marlies of the OHL and was skilled, but soft and not a good fit for the Bruins style. Having Terry O’Reilly and Mike Milbury as head coaches probably didn’t help his cause much either- they probably saw the perimeter play right away. He was eventually sent to Toronto for another bust in Steve Bancroft.

19- Best: Shaone Morrisonn, 2001: It’s not saying much, because Morrisonn was at the time thought of as a 2nd-round pick, and he barely played for the B’s before being traded for Sergei Gonchar near the 2004 NHL trade deadline, but he went on to have a journeyman NHL career of 400+ games. The big, mobile Kamloops Blazers product never developed the offensive and PP chops expected of him.

Worst: Dave Pasin, 1984: The player Sinden proudly proclaimed was the 2nd-best junior scorer (68 goals, 122 points in 71 games) of anyone not named Mario Lemieux in that draft, the Prince Albert Raider made the B’s as an 19-year-old and played 71 games, scoring 18 goals and 37 points. Problem was- the big-bodied Pasin could barely move around the ice and after the B’s sent him to the AHL in 1986-87 to develop his feet/get him needed playing time, he never returned to Boston. The B’s traded him to the Kings for the forgettable Paul Guay in the 1988-89 season…trade worked out for neither team and Pasin was off to Europe by ’92. But hey- Pasin still had the SECOND most goals/points of any junior player in the 1984 draft!!

20- Allister Blair, 1964: Who? You got it- Mr. Blair was out of Ingersoll Jr. B. The Rangers grabbed Syl Apps Jr. one pick later and he went on to play 700+ NHL games and 600+ points. Woulda, coulda, shoulda for the only 20th overall pick in Bruins history.

21- Best: Bryan Smolinski, 1990: The year that Boston captured the President’s Trophy and the NHL draft order only covered regular season, not taking playoff impact/making sure the Cup winner picks last as is the case today, they nabbed the Michigan State/CCHA rookie teamer one pick after the Devils drafted Martin Brodeur. “Smoke” scored 30 goals in his first full season with the B’s, played well during the lockout shortened 94-95 campaign and then got traded to Pittsburgh in the Kevin Stevens deal. He went on to play more than 1,000 games before retiring and now coaches midget AAA 16U hockey for Detroit Little Caesars with fellow former Bruin Brian Rolston.

HM: Nick Boynton, 1999: After being taken 10th overall in 1997 by Washington, Boynton didn’t sign and re-entered the draft, becoming one of the few 1st-round re-entries to be picked in the 1st round. Had a solid career for the B’s during mediocre times, but was unhappy (along with many others) during the post-lockout 05-06 season and was traded away, eventually winning a Stanley Cup with the 2010 Blackhawks.

HM2: Nevin Markwart, 1983: Tough guy- injuries prevented him from playing as much as he should have given his tenure in Boston, but would fight anyone. Cult favorite of the Gallery Gods.

Worst: Evgeni Ryabchikov, 1994: The first time in team history that the B’s drafted a goalie in the 1st round, it ended up being a disaster. Aside from playing preseason games in the fall of 1994 when the NHL owners instituted a months-long lockout, he never really came close to making the NHL. Not the Boston scouts’ finest hour- rumor was that the team drafted Ryabchikov on the strength of his World Jr. performance that year, but had not seen him much in Russia playing for Molot Perm. Of all players on this list, he’s one of the most egregious misses- Patrik Elias was taken 30 spots later by the Devils.

22- Best: Brian Curran, 1982: He was massive at 6-5 back in the early 80’s, when there were few players as big as the former Portland Winterhawk, taken with Boston’s 2nd choice after Kluzak. Curran skated like a 6-5 guy as well- what we call a “baggage smasher” or less charitably, a “turnstile” D- but man, was he ever tough. Played 115 games for the B’s from 1983-86 then bounced around the league as a journeyman/enforcer type with 2 300-PIM seasons with the Islanders and Leafs before hanging them up.

HM: Matt Lashoff, 2005: On the face of it, the American defenseman was a bust. BUT- with Martins Karsums he was dealt to Tampa Bay for Mark Recchi and the 2nd-round pick in 2010 that ended up getting traded to Florida (Alex Petrovic) for Dennis Seidenberg. That gives Lashoff at least a decent HM status. He was a player who should have been a great fit for the modern NHL, but for whatever reason, couldn’t stick after being in and out of the Boston lineup early in his pro career.

Worst: Art Quoquochi, 1969: No NHL games, no point in going on. Butch Goring, Dave “the Hammer” Schultz and Gilles Gilbert were all drafted after him in the draft.

23- No pick: The B’s have never chosen 23rd in franchise history.

24- Best: Malcolm Subban, 2012: With just 45 games under his belt since the B’s made him their top pick in Pittsburgh, it isn’t saying much, but Subban has at least flashed the promise he showed. Of course- for a 1st-round goalie, much more was expected and time is ticking on Subban, who is now almost 26 and has yet to stake a No. 1 NHL claim in his career.

Worst: Brian St. John, 1968: Last pick in a bad amateur draft, with D John Marks and G Michel Plasse (1st overall) being the best of a limited bunch.

25- Best: David Pastrnak, 2014: The player who inspired me to do this project with the recent reflection on the Bruins sub-Reddit about his selection at 25 in 2014. I talked about it previously, but a January concussion in Pastrnak’s draft year caused him to fall off the radar a bit and Boston benefited from his being out of sight/out of mind for a lot of teams. Pastrnak is one of the great successes in the history of the Bruins draft efforts- getting a player of Pastrnak’s caliber was an absolute heist and it isn’t like they didn’t value him…the team reportedly tried to trade up about 10 spots on draft day to grab him early. That he fell into their lap anyway was simply meant to be. He’s one of the franchise’s most talented and bankable assets with his scoring and great personality. 88 should be in the Black and Gold for a long time. He may go down with Ray Bourque, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the Mount Rushmore of Bruins draft choices.

HM: Mark Howe, 1974: Another what could have been player in Boston. The Bruins drafted the son of Gordie Howe in the 2nd round and had the elder Howe not come out of retirement to play in Houston of the WHA with his sons, Mark would have been a Bruin and would have played in his prime with Ray Bourque in the 1980’s. Instead, Howe spent his best years with the Flyers and finished his HHOF career in Detroit. Had he not played in the WHA, he would have surpassed the 1,000 games mark- he played 929 and had 742 career points.

Worst: Jordan Caron, 2009: So much was expected of the power forward out of Rimouski of the QMJHL and he showed promise early, but skating was subpar and he could never get it in gear to establish himself in the NHL. Once he was gassed by Boston and sent to Colorado- he went scoreless in his final 34 NHL games before ending up in Europe and was last spotted in the KHL. Ryan O’Reilly was drafted eight spots after Caron.

HM: Kevyn Adams, 1993: 1st-round pick, never signed with Boston and had an NHL career but was essentially a journeyman who bounced around the league. Did win a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, but went scoreless in 25 playoff games…that’s hard to do!

26- No pick.

27- Best: Dan Bouchard, 1970: The Bruins lost the promising Bouchard to the Atlanta Flames and the NHL expansion draft in 1972, but he could have formed quite the Quebecois tandem with Gilles Gilbert if they had kept him. He was one of the more unheralded goalies in the 1970s because of the lack of exposure in Atlanta for the NHL in the pre-internet and ESPN broadcast days.

Worst: Martin Samuelsson, 2000: Along with Jonsson, the B’s completely whiffed in the 1st-round that year, going Swede with both selections and stumbling. Samuelsson was chosen with the 1st rounder Colorado sent to the B’s as part of the Ray Bourque package- the B’s could have taken Justin Williams instead. Oh well. Samuelsson could really fly…couldn’t play, though. And his North American tenure was a short one.

28- Curt Ridley, 1971: Couldn’t crack the Bruins lineup as a goalie with Gilles Gilbert, Ross Brooks and Ken Broderick manning the pipes in 1974-75- traded to the Rangers and played a couple of years on some terrible Vancouver Canucks teams. Journeyman goalie. Weak draft- Buffalo’s Bill Hajt was the only player taken after Ridley who played more than 500 NHL games.

29- Hannu Toivonen, 2002: The only player from Boston’s all-Euro 02 draft class to make it to the NHL, he started strong in 05-06 then was lost to a high ankle sprain and played poorly on another bad B’s team in 06-07. He is best known for being traded to the Blues for Carl Soderberg. Between Toivonen and Trent Frederic, there isn’t much to speak of at pick #29.

30- John Beecher, 2019: He’s the one and only player ever drafted by the B’s at 30…and as the metal band Megadeth would say So far…so good…(so what?!) Beecher looks promising and will wear #17 for the University of Michigan this fall. If he plays well, I wouldn’t expect him to spend more than 1 or 2 years in Ann Arbor before he signs and goes pro. Big, fast and showing some intriguing scoring chops, putting on a show at the recent USA Hockey Summer Showcase in Michigan.

NHL/B’s successful picks outside of 1-30 (not a complete list):

37- Brandon Carlo, 2015

39- Lyndon Byers, 1982

40- Jozef Stumpel, 1991

45- Patrice Bergeron, 2003

48- Jonathan Girard, 1998

50- Milan Lucic, 2006

52- Bill Ranford, 1985

56- Ryan Donato, 2014

57- Keith Crowder, 1979

60- Tom Fergus, 1980; Dave Reid, 1982; Steve Heinze, 1988

63- David Krejci, 2004

70- Bob Miller, 1976

71- Brad Marchand, 2006

81- Steve Kasper, 1980; Joe Juneau, 1988

82- Bob Joyce, 1984

85- Matt Grzelcyk, 2012

86- Stan Jonathan, 1975

98- Ted Donato, 1987

102- Allen Pedersen, 1983

106- Mariusz Czerkawski, 1991; Vladimir Sobotka, 2005

120- Mike Krushelnyski, 1980

123- Bob Sweeney, 1982

135- Andrew Raycroft, 1998

153- Craig MacTavish, 1978

157- Randy Burridge, 1985

166- Don Sweeney, 1984

177- P.J. Axelsson, 1995

179- Andrew Alberts, 2001

186- Michael Thelven, 1980

202- Greg Hawgood, 1986

207- Hal Gill, 1993

229- John Grahame, 1994

That’s all folks- probably missed a few here and there, but it’s just as well- time to wrap it up. Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

Evgeni RyabchikovEvgeni-Ryabchikov

5 thoughts on “Best and Worst Bruins Draft Picks 1-30; 1963-2019

  1. Absolutely love it. Despite following the Bruins for years, I did not recognize some of the names (who is Evgeni Ryabchikov???). Stellar job!

    Thank you Martin- the NHL Draft is something I’ve always been fascinated with. Appreciate the feedback. -KL


  2. Just awesome. Best I’ve read in a long time.

    Oh so many “what could have been for the Bruins” but I guess it’s the way it goes.
    A few notes.
    #2 – I liked Gord Kluzak when he played which of course wasn’t much. Isn’t it strange the Bruins (Harry Sinden) wasn’t aware of Kluzak’s knee problems as he only played half the games in his draft year because of knee injury. I know Sinden was looking for a Brad Park replacement but as you say Scott Stevens was there too….
    #14 – Nobody’s ever replacing Terry O’Reilly but one guy I absolutely loved watching was Normand Leveille. The speedy left winger whose career was cut short at 19 when suddenly suffering from cerebral hemorrhage and never played hockey again. At the time he was just blossoming into one of the Bruins best players. This is the most difficult moment in all my years as a Bruins fan. Normand Leveille was exactly the player the Bruins needed to compete with the Islanders and Oilers during the mid eightes.

    Oh well what could have been….



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