Bruins prospect of the week: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson

Going to start a new feature here on the blog until the season gets underway by taking a snapshot of the various prospects in the Boston Bruins pipeline by providing analysis and updates on the players and what we think their NHL future might resemble.

First up, is 2015 2nd-round selection Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, center; aka- JFK.

Hope you enjoy, will try to post these every Sunday/Monday to help get us through the rest of the offseason.

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JFK

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson aka “JFK”

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, C

6-1/190 Shoots: Right

Background summary

The native of Linkoping, Sweden played two years of junior hockey in the USHL with a team that’s near and dear to my heart- the Omaha Lancers. JFK was the 45th overall pick, one of three selections acquired from the Calgary Flames for Dougie Hamilton (Zach Senyshyn and Jeremy Lauzon round out the trio).

Since 2000, only three players drafted directly by NHL teams out of Omaha have been selected higher than JFK: Louis Leblanc (18-2009/MTL); Nick Petrecki (28- 2007/SJS) & Patrick Wiercoch (42- 2008/OTT) out of a total of 27 players (BU forward Patrick Harper– NSH/2016 and Minnesota-Duluth freshman Noah Cates- PHI/2017 are listed under their high school teams but both finished their respective draft seasons with Omaha and are rolled into the count). As far as the Omaha Lancers go, JFK has a pretty solid NHL draft pedigree, with 110 career USHL games (26 goals, 86 points).

Here’s a JFK highlight video posted by the USHL right before the 2015 draft, most of you have no doubt seen it, but for those who haven’t…

After two seasons at Boston University (78-24-39-63), JFK turned pro with the B’s making his NHL debut on the last day of the 2017 regular season, a loss to the Washington Capitals. Thus far, it is the young pivot’s only big league action, but he had a solid rookie pro season in Providence of the AHL, playing in 58 games 15-17-32 line and a goal in four playoff contests. He was sidelined by a concussion this season, which forced him out of 20+ games and given a concussion history, this will be something to keep an eye on.

Talent analysis

JFK is a cerebral two-way center. He was knocked in his younger years for lacking pace/urgency in his game, but this is an area he’s showed improvement in since early 2014. He’s strong in the faceoff circle and has excellent vision/hockey sense as a forward who is reliable across all 200 feet of the ice surface. While he’s not a burner in the open ice, he’s quick and agile, often reading and processing plays to get a step on defenders to gain time, space and separation.

Forsbacka Karlsson is not what you would call a classic top-2 line forward, but he projects as a quintessential third-line pivot who has the potential to play up or down the lineup in pinch. He has an excellent stick- able to make on-target passes from either side of the blade and has shown that he can find the back of the net in bunches, even if he is not all that consistent a goal scorer when compared to others in the system.

He’s a natural penalty killer, but doesn’t look to be on track to see much power play time at the highest level (at least not for a while), though he does have the head and hands to be able make good use of the added time and space the man advantage affords.

The biggest area of concern for JFK has to do with his injury history (two significant concussions) and a lean frame which is probably not going to see much more mass packed on as he nears the end of his physical growth cycle.

JFK isn’t a dynamic player- you have to watch him to appreciate the details of his game. But, he’s where he needs to be and is able to speed up and slow down the pace when he’s in the middle of the ice and making the play flow through him. If you expect an electrifying center who will bring you out of your seat on every shift, he’s not it. He is, however, highly effective in the middle of the ice, which is where most games are won and lost.

2018-19 Projection

Entering the third year of his entry-level contract, the expectation is that the Bruins would like to see him make a case for the third-line center position, but don’t expect them to force the issue. He showed signs of being up to the task last year with Providence and was developing nicely until the injury setback.

If he doesn’t win a spot on the third or even fourth line in Boston coming out of camp, he’ll go back down I-95 to Providence, where he should be able to score at around a point-per-game pace and would likely be on a very short list of callups if the need arises.

However, given how hard Boston worked to get him to leave school in spring of 2017, the thinking here is that he’ll be given ample opportunity to earn an NHL job in October. If he doesn’t, then it will be interesting to see what comes next in his development.

JFK factoids

Turns 22 on Halloween.

Both parents are lawyers in Sweden.

JFK and fellow Bruin Ryan Donato teamed up in Ralston, Nebraska for a very brief time, as Donato joined the Lancers after he and Dexter Southfield came up short in the New England prep school championship to Salisbury School Crimson Knights in 2015. Unfortunately for Omaha, JFK took a head shot in their first game together in the Lancers lineup and he ended up missing the final 10 games of the regular season and USHL playoffs.

The Bruins & the Cap- Where do they Stand?

by Dominic Tiano

For the vast majority of hockey fans, the National Hockey League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and the salary cap can be a nightmare to understand unless you have a law degree from Harvard. Now, I don’t have such a degree, but I do talk to people who work with the CBA and Cap daily and have a good understanding in what the Boston Bruins are facing this upcoming season and beyond.

So here is my take on what General Manager Don Sweeney and cap guru Evan Gold face:

With the announcement by the Bruins yesterday that they have reached a contract agreement with Colby Cave, the Bruins have all their restricted and unrestricted players signed for the 2018-2019 season (at the very least, those they wanted to retain). Unless of course you want to count Rick Nash, who is still undecided if he wants to continue playing because of health issues.

Using CapFriendly as a source, we find the Bruins with $2.95 million in cap space with a 23-man roster. That money can be banked to use throughout the season to add to their current roster, including Nash if he wishes to return to playing hockey and with the Bruins.

Their cap space was reduced for 2018-2019 because of performance bonuses paid out to Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen that could not have fit under last season and are carried over. Under the CBA, a team can exceed the cap by 7% because of performance bonuses and have it charged to the following season. For 2018-2019, that charge to the cap is $774,000.

Further reducing their cap space is what is often called “dead money” – money paid to players no longer on the roster because they were bought out or the team retained salary in a trade. For 2018-2019, the Bruins are still paying Dennis Seidenberg ($1,166,167 for two more seasons) and Jimmy Hayes (866,667 for one more season) after buying them out. They are also paying Matt Beleskey in a salary retained deal with the New York Rangers $1.9 million for two more seasons, although the numbers could change if the Rangers choose to buyout Beleskey during the second buyout period. That’s just shy of $4 million in “dead money”.

At the end of the 2018-2019 season, the Bruins could be tagged with a bonus overage of just over $3.7 million. Potential bonuses that could be paid out are Zdeno Chara ($1.75 million) McAvoy ($500,000), DeBrusk ($425,000) Heinen ($212,500) and Ryan Donato ($800,000). Based on where the cap is today and barring no roster changes (although there are sure to be callups from Providence when injuries occur further reducing the cap) and that most, if not all those bonuses will be attained, fans and the Bruins can look forward to a bonus overage carried over to the 2019-2020 season. Just how much depends on how much of their current $2.9 million in space is used.

The cap is almost certainly going to rise, either by increased revenue or by the NHLPA invoking the escalator (artificially increasing the cap by 5%). But there is always the possibility that the NHLPA does not invoke the escalator (they’ve done that once in the salary cap era and other times increasing it by less then 5%). Hayes will come off the books, but it still leaves a tad more then $3 million in dead money from the Seidenberg buyout and Beleskey trade.

According to CapFriendly, the Bruins have $16.5 million in cap space for 2019-2020 (if the cap remains stagnant) with 16 players on the roster. Some of those spots could be filled with prospects making the jump from Providence.

But the Bruins have to dish out new contracts to McAvoy, Carlo, Heinen and Donato. And if Big Z decides he wants to play another season, well, that pretty much eats up that $16.5 million with two roster spots left to fill. The problem still lies with how much bonus overage there is going forward and that $16.5 million is directly influenced by that figure.

But, the cap will rise. Whether it rises enough is anyone’s guess.

In the end, there are a lot of “ifs” when looking beyond the upcoming season. The only definitive answer I can give you now is that Sweeney and Gold will get it done.

3 Amigos Podcast: Bruins summer update- free agency, draft & rumors

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Thanks to the requests of multiple blog readers, the 3 Amigos decided to reunite in the offseason and last night, the boys did a solid 70+ minutes worth of hockey talk focusing on the Boston Bruins.

While we won’t be as prolific on the blog as before, this is an opportunity to maintain the connection with those passionate fans who helped support us from 2015 to late summer 2017, when the blog went dormant due to job obligations. The truth is- being at the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas served as a good reminder that you can’t completely walk away from that which you have done for the past 18 years. It was summer 2000 when the New England Hockey Journal hired TSP founder Kirk to cover the Bruins, and after covering nearly every draft since then (minus those when overseas), it was strange not to be working at this most recent draft.

Still- am grateful for all the words of support and encouragement, and fortunate to have two good friends in Dom and Reed who agreed to get the Amigos back together and do some more audio work. The best part of it was just being able to interact with them again, and we have some more things in store for future efforts.

So, enough of the background- here’s the audio file and will post it up on Soundcloud as well.

For those who want to download and listen on Soundcloud, go here:

 

Recapping the Bruins’ draft & free agent signings

Okay, so we’re a little behind here, but wanted to do a blog post on the Boston Bruins most recent transactions, which includes the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in Dallas  and free agency, which opened with a boom on Sunday for the Toronto Maple Leafs, landing a true crown jewel in John Tavares, who leaves the NY Islanders in his prime (not yet 28) for his childhood team. The Bruins were in it as a possible Tavares destination, but in hindsight, it was probably the Isles or the Leafs and everyone else didn’t really have a shot. That’s life, but more on that later.

And, if the Isles need some comforting, they had what looks to be a successful draft, leveraging multiple first-round picks and value throughout the subsequent rounds into an impressive haul for them.

First up, the B’s draft recap:

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It’s been a long time…let’s do some catching up

Apologies to all for the neglect I have engaged in with this blog, but as previously mentioned, the full-time work in hockey has prevented me from doing the coverage I used to provide.

However, a recent trip to Dallas for the 2018 NHL Draft has encouraged me to fire up the old Scouting Post once again and do some commentary on the Bruins and hockey life in general. Don’t know how consistent it will be, but for those who enjoyed the past content, I will endeavor to provide the same level of detailed insights as before.

Also- for those of you who enjoyed the audio podcast content, we just might have something in store for you as well.

Stay tuned and check back periodically here for more on the Bruins and hockey in general.

Are we having fun yet?

The Boston Bruins are on a roll!

One point out of 1st place, four wins in a row…

Bruce Cassidy north of a .700 win percentage behind the B’a bench since replacing Claude Julien one year ago this week.

Patrice Bergeron on pace to set a career-best for goals at age 32.

Tuukka Rask on a 21-game points streak, not having lost in regulation since late Nov.

Young Guns Charlie McAvoy, Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, Austin Czarnik all making key contributions.

Brad Marchand back from his 5-game ban & doing Marchy-like things in his team’s 6-1 pumping of the NY Rangers.

More prospects in the pipeline & on the way up through the ranks…and much, much more that we didn’t just rattle off to help the Bruins climb to the elite ranks this season.

Yep- just the way we all drew it up over the summer, right B’s fans?

Credit where due to those who saw it coming, but even as encouraging as it is, the B’s need a long postseason going to keep the goodwill flowing. Given how it all ended with the New England Patriots, we all could use a little milk & honey Black & Gold style.

So, buckle up and enjoy the ride- it’s hip to get behind the Bruins again. Even if so many out there never left.

 

For the Love of Gord

(Editor’s note- It’s been a while since I posted on the blog after my announcement about my work with the Omaha Lancers. I’ve thought of ways to re-engage, but could never quite get the topics right, and the last thing I want to do is confuse people by posting subjects that lead folks to believe I’m still in the covering the Boston Bruins and prospects biz. So, when I got the news of Gord Downie’s passing, I believed that there was no better way or platform for me to pay tribute to the man and band. So, here it is- probably nowhere near the best thing you’ll read about the Hip on this tragic day, but it’s from the heart. Make no mistake- I am a proud American, but Canada owns a near and dear place in my heart- always has, always will. Thanks for returning and reading…-KL)

I love Canada.

Three simple words, and yet I struggle to convey the extent of how true they are in the aftermath of singer/songwriter/Canadian icon Gord Downie’s passing.  The man who made song called “Courage” famous,  finally succumbed on Tuesday night to his long bout with brain cancer at the age of 53. The band released a statement today and those of us who loved the Hip are now left to deal with the emotions of news that was expected, yet unexpected, in that nothing really completely prepares you for that moment when you have to make a final goodbye.

It makes sense that I would be a fan of the proud Kingston, Ontario-native rock band The Tragically Hip because, after all, the band’s frontman is Harry Sinden’s godson and a lifelong Boston Bruins supporter. But no, I liked the Hip long before I learned of that neat connection, not to mention that Mr. Downie was once a pretty decent hockey goalie before he traded in the pads for a guitar and chance to transcend the aspect of being a simple entertainer- be it a professional athlete or musician- by becoming one with the social fabric of Canada.

Go ahead and try to find a Canadian who doesn’t at least have a passing knowledge of Gord and the Hip- I’m not saying they’re not out there, but good luck finding someone in that great country to our north who hasn’t at least been touched in some way, shape or form by the Hip’s music, or who is completely unable to recognize Downie’s signature lyrical stylings and vocal sound. There aren’t many entertainment acts or entities that can claim as much of a nation’s identity and conscience as The Tragically Hip, in the embodiment of Gord Downie, can.

I once read that the Hip was the greatest band to never make it in the United States and I agree with the assessment, especially with the fundamental conclusion that Downie and Co. were simply too Canadian to make the kind of impact in the U.S., and that die-hard fans and proud Canadians are perfectly happy with that. You know what? I agree- screw America on this one (those obvious enlightened ones like yours truly aside of course)- their loss is Canada’s gain because the uniqueness of this band and the way that so many of their songs speak directly to citizens of that fine nation is something that few American bands, with so much diversity and polarization across the 50 states, can even come close to claiming.

It is probably with no small coincidence and dare I say- tragedy– that the passing of both Downie and American rocker Tom Petty came so close to one another because the two are similar in that if there are some U.S. musicians out there who earned the love and passion of a wide and diverse listening audience the way the Hip were able to do in Canada- it is one Tom Petty. Sure, Downie’s passing won’t generate nearly as much attention or news stories as that of Petty, and Prince and David Bowie earlier in 2016. But, for those who knew and loved the Hip, Downie’s loss, though not sudden and unexpected the way Petty and Prince left us, leaves no less of a gaping hole in our musical souls.

I am not Canadian, but I owe a debt to those friends and brothers north of the border in Ian and Tim who helped strengthen my interest in and love of the Hip’s music over the years. Actually, I have to credit former Bruins goaltender Blaine Lacher, who in 1994 listed the Tragically Hip as his favorite band, and I was curious. The Tragically Hip? What, or who…on Earth…were they?

This was in the earliest days of the Internet, so I wasn’t able to just pull up Google and do a search- I instead headed to the now-defunct Ear-X-Tacy record store in Louisville, KY (I was stationed at Fort Knox at the time going through the U.S. Army Armor School to learn how to be an M1A1 Abrams tank platoon leader) and just happened to stumble across the band’s greatest commercial success- the Fully Completely LP (1993)- in a very limited choice of just one other Hip album in compact disc format. It had to be the cover art, but I took it out of the store, popped it into my 1990 Honda Accord’s CD player and was immediately taken in by the sound, unlike anything I was expecting…and of course- once I heard “Fifty-Mission Cap” the first time, I was hooked.

There were many other albums and songs…I walked away from the Hip at times for other bands and acts, only to come eagerly back with each new release. I admit I even began to take the band for granted. Sure things: death, taxes and a Hip album sure to come out at some point.

It was Memorial Day weekend 2016 and I was in the Denver airport waiting on a flight back to Austin, Texas when good pal Tim (mentioned above) called me to confirm that I knew of Downie’s announcement of his terminal condition and that he was taking the band on one final farewell tour across Canada, and did I want to come up to Toronto and we’d make a road trip to see the London show together in August. There was absolutely no hesitation- I was in.

And so, just a few months later, I flew from Texas to Ontario and the two of us made the drive from Mississauga to London, listening to our favorite Hip tunes- Blow At High Dough, Bobcaygeon, Poets, Something On, Grace, Too, Nautical Disaster, New Orleans is Sinking, Vapour Trails, Wheat Kings, Fireworks, The Darkest One, Use It Up, Courage (for Hugh MacLennan), Ahead By A Century, The Lonely End of the Rink, even the underappreciated Coffee Girl…and so many others- it’s hard to keep straight to be honest, because there are so many great songs.

Walking into the building where the OHL’s London Knights have earned such a storied legacy in major junior was a surreal experience, but it was ironic that in making the trip to London, Ontario for the first time, I wasn’t there for the hockey.

I’ll just say it was a great show- it had everything I had hoped for and more. True, they didn’t play “Fifty-Mission Cap,” and at the very end, it looked like Gord himself was so completely drained of energy that he simply could not go on and perform the final expected song of the set list- Ahead By A Century– instead, he stood on stage for what seemed to be an eternity and just waved to the thousands who screamed, chanted and cried- he didn’t say good bye- he didn’t have to. In that nearly perfect two hours of music, he poured every last bit of himself into that performance. It was one he would replicate a few more times before the final Hip tour ended that summer, but to this day- I remain grateful that I got to see it. We all knew…every one of us in attendance…that Gord would be leaving us, and although you knew it was coming, nothing can ever completely prepare us for the final farewell. But, instead of fighting the battle against the insidious enemy called cancer, Mr. Downie chose to spend those precious moments with his fans doing the thing that defined his all-too-short life. We should all be fortunate to live as well and be able to go out on our own terms as Gord did. Godspeed, sir- you are already tremendously missed.

So…that brings me back to the three words that opened this blog post: I love Canada.

It’s always been the country I’ve respected the most even as a young lad taking family and hockey trips to Quebec and Ontario- a respect that began with the realization that even though it seemed like America, Canada was its own country, and one that deserved respect for its culture, values and national identity. For me as a young adult, the Hip symbolized their pride in Canada and deep roots as sons of that great nation to the North.

Today, I tweeted photos from that London show, and a Canadian radio personality and friend in the Ottawa area responded that I am “half-Canadian” by now, and that by “getting the Hip” it means that I understand Canada. I can only guess that was Jon’s way of saying, I’m not like typical Americans who chose not to get the Hip…and I can think of no higher compliment, to be honest.

The greatness of The Tragically Hip isn’t in how many albums they sold or how many stories Gord Downie’s passing will generate, but in the fact that they stayed true to their nation and themselves. They could have done things a little differently to become a more mainstream commercial success in the United States, sure…but in so doing, they would not have been The Tragically Hip. They did it their own way, much like Gord Downie did when he threw a giant middle finger to the disease that ravaged his great brain and dedicated everything of himself to spend the precious time he had left on this Earth to take the stage and drive home his love of country and the legions of fans that the Hip meant so much to.

I love Canada.

Long live The Tragically Hip.

Raise your glasses to Gord Downie and his mates- and tonight, if you are able, look to the sky and see the constellations reveal themselves…one star at a time.

The Heat Is On: A Farewell (of sorts)

Didn’t realize the last post on here was June 30, but in case you missed it- have accepted the Director of Player Personnel position with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers and will not be able to continue to use this blog as a platform to break Boston Bruins news and do prospect and draft analysis. However, not shutting the blog down- will still post items of interest on occasion, but it will not be what you are used to accessing.

If that’s all you need, then farewell and please accept my thanks for reading this blog and supporting it with traffic, comments and feedback in the two-plus years it has been in existence. If you want to hear the detailed backstory of the Omaha position, along with some heartfelt thanks to many who have helped me along the way, then here’s a 40-minute audio post where I lay a lot of things out and provide a few recommendations of other Bruins prospects analysts who are worth following.

Give the file a listen here:

Thanks to all- excited about the position with Omaha and the chance to learn from some great hockey people in that organization- David Wilkie, Gregg Naumenko, Jared Nightingale, Chris Hepp, Andrew Conboy, Drew Palmisano, Dakota Eveland, Brian Gabrielle, Jason ‘Jay’ Franzone, Erik Blase just to name a few. It’s going to be a good ride…the Heat is On!

Lancers vintage

 

 

3 Amigos Podcast Ep. 11: Bruins NHL Draft recap with 2nd-rounder Jack Studnicka & Free Agency preview

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The 3 Amigos are back with our post- 2017 NHL Entry Draft wrap-up show featuring Boston’s 2nd-round selection (53rd overall) Jack Studnicka, center for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals.

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Jack Studnicka (Kirk Luedeke photo)

Dominic Tiano worked with the Gennies to have Jack join us, and he talks about myriad topics, including his final U16 season (before being a 1st-round OHL draft pick) with Belle Tire under coach Kyle Krug, father of B’s D Torey.

Reed Duthie, Dom and myself not only interview Jack, but also break down all of Boston’s picks and discuss possible free agent targets as the annual open market derby begins Saturday, July 1.

We didn’t talk Noel Acciari’s 2-year contract extension announced yesterday, but Acciari has been a solid undrafted free agent addition, and he even showed an ability to generate some important offense down the stretch last season.

Here’s the audio- it clocks in at a little over 90 minutes. We know the audio isn’t the greatest but again- this is three guys doing this because we enjoy it- not because we’re the highest-tech operation. We appreciate your time and support in listening- we know there are plenty of other podcast options out there.

 

 

2017 Bruins Draft Review: More Steak than Sizzle

CHICAGO- The Boston Bruins entered the 2017 NHL Entry Draft with six selections and just three in the first three 111 slots after making a total of nine picks in the first two rounds in the previous pair of years. The B’s held onto all of their picks, but didn’t come away with a lot of draft excitement and buzz, even if several of the players they chose appear to have the talent and potential to one day play for the parent club.

Assistant GM Scott Bradley returned to the helm of running the B’s draft with previous amateur scouting director Keith Gretzky leaving Boston last August to take the same position with the Edmonton Oilers, where he was reunited with former Bruins boss who hired him, Peter Chiarelli. This draft class reflects Bradley’s value-based philosophy and willingness to take less risk in favor of drafting players who embrace the team’s style and represent better potential roster fits.

Here’s a quick recap of all of Boston’s picks in the draft’s two days and what fans might expect from the new arrivals down the road:

Urho Vaakanainen (Kirk Luedeke photo)

Urho Vaakanainen, Rd 1.- pick 18

Left defense; 6-1/181; 01 Jan 99; JyP Jyvaskyla (Finland- SM Liiga)

Central Scouting rank: 8- Europe; Red Line Report: 50 ISS: 34 Hockey Prospect: 11

Talent analysis: Good height and long limbs; plus-skater who can move with speed, quickness and agility. Breaks out pucks efficiently with head up. Will join the rush and can handle the puck effectively from the blue line when the play is in the offensive zone. Smart defensive player who uses his length and reach to deny paths to the net. Not overly physical and prefers to use angles, gap work and  a quick stick to keep opponents from generating scoring chances. Six points for JyP in his second pro season in the SM-Liiga, but could be on the verge of breaking out offensively with SaiPa next season.

Pick analysis: Vaakanainen was the eighth-ranked European skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service and projected to go around where the B’s drafted him. Some public lists had him closer to 11-13 range, while others had him solidly in the second round. The Bruins were looking to add a quality left-shot defenseman and when countryman Juuso Valimaki went off the board to the Calgary Flames at 16, the team went with another of Finland’s quality young D who was a member of both of his country’s successful two most recent U18 squads (gold, silver in 2016-17) and the very disappointing 2017 U20 World Jr. Team. Vaakanainen is not all that flashy or dynamic a player, but he is mobile, skilled and represents a potential blossoming offensive upside that may not be reflected in his pedestrian stats. He’s probably not a high-end prospect, but a solid complementary kind of player who further strengthens the future left side and gives GM Don Sweeney more options to move some of the prospects out in potential packages for NHL-level trades.

On the board at 18: F- Kristian Vesalainen; F- Ryan Poehling; F- Kailer Yamamoto; F- Eeli Tolvanen; F- Klim Kostin; F- Robert Thomas; D- Nic Hague; F- Filip Chytil; D- Connor Timmins; F- Isaac Ratcliffe; D- Pierre-Olivier Joseph; G- Jake Oettinger

Jack Studnicka (Kirk Luedeke photo)

Jack Studnicka, Rd 2.- pick 53

Center; 6-1/172; 18 Feb 99; Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Central Scouting rank: 120- North America; Red Line Report: 68; ISS: 41; Hockey Prospect: 73

Talent analysis: Rangy center’s stock really came on after a disappointing regular season got a surge with strong OHL playoff and subsequent World Under-18 tournament performances. His thin, reedy build will require significant off-ice conditioning work to add some mass and strength to. Above average skater who has the quick-burst to get to pucks in short areas and can also beat defenders in open ice. Handles and shoots the puck well; has the offensive tool kit to put up bigger numbers in the OHL next year and beyond. A smart, hard-working two-way center who is good on faceoffs and understands the importance of three-zone hockey. Solid citizen and leader type- will have a letter on his jersey at some point.

Pick analysis: Doesn’t project as a top-line offensive threat but has the potential to develop into a solid third-line center with a second-line ceiling if he can take another step in his development. Rankings for Studnicka were all over the map, but the reality is- he was a late-rising player whose ability to step up in key moments with the Gennies and Team Canada (albeit in disappointing Hlinka and U18 finishes) speaks well to his pro potential. More Jack-of-all-Trades versus sleek, sexy scoring forward, but there is always value to having these kinds of players on your NHL roster if he can earn a spot one day. There weren’t many complete players of Studnicka’s ability on the board at 53, but there were some prospects with a bigger risk-reward factors, so time will tell if going the safer route was the right decision.

On the board at 53: G- Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen; G- Michael DiPietro; G- Keith Petruzzelli; F- Joni Ikonen; F- Matthew Strome; D- Josh Brook; F- Morgan Geekie; G- Matthew Villalta; D- Ben Mirageas; D- Reilly Walsh;

 

Jeremy Swayman, Rd 4.- pick 111

Goaltender; 6-2/190; 24 Nov 98; Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

Central Scouting rank: 12- North America; Red Line Report: NR; Hockey Prospect: NR

Talent analysis: High-end athlete with good size who probably isn’t finished growing (his dad is 6-6) checks all the boxes for a developmental project goalie. Excellent quickness and great hands- glove and blocker are effective at catching pucks or directing them away from danger areas. Gets a good lateral push and tracks pucks well. Put up very good save percentage and GAA numbers (.914, 2.90) on a non-playoff USHL club, and was often lost in the spotlight of other bigger-name goalies playing in that league. Needs to be more patient at times- gets caught trying to do too much and will have to put in the work to refine his game and keep getting better. Says all the right things, but the proof will be in the continued progression and body of work.

Pick analysis: Textbook case of the perception of the “shallow” 2017 NHL draft, where many of the more conventional and established names on public lists were passed on by teams who scouted their own players and went with a lesser known commodity in Swayman, an Alaska native who played for a tougher-to-see USHL club. Originally thought to be spending another year in junior, TSP confirmed that Swayman will play at the University of Maine next season. That may or may not be the best for his development, but the B’s and fans will likely have to get used to what could be a bit of a rollercoaster for him in terms of strong vs. shaky outings and stretches of play. Swayman’s pure physical package means that he’s bound to have some quality starts that will generate buzz, but he’s also likely to have some rougher stretches that will underscore the time and patience needed to properly develop a goaltender in this day and age.

On the board at 111: F- Kyle Olson; D- Michael Karow; F- Noah Cates; G- Cayden Primeau; F- Nick Campoli

 

Cedric Pare, Rd. 6- pick 173

Center; 6-2/205; 24 Jan 99; Saint John Sea Dogs

Central Scouting Rank: 146- North America

Talent analysis: Big-bodied, toolsy center who didn’t see a lot of playing time on a stacked, veteran team that won the QMJHL championship and played for the 2017 Memorial Cup. Strong below the dots and in the corners, but skating needs to improve mainly in the first steps and lateral agility to boost an effective short-area game. Hard shot, but needs to get it off faster. Grinds for pucks and does well to shield them in possession but not overly skilled or creative. At his best when driving the net and using his size to box out defenders.

Pick analysis: This is a pure project selection that drew a mixed bag of reviews, as several NHL scouts informally polled either liked the pick or didn’t. Conventional thought is that Pare, who resembles a blend of Patrice Bergeron and Ryan Spooner in terms of his looks, has a chance to play a more prominent role in Saint John next season. He’s not flashy, but plays that heavy-on-pucks style the Bruins like. Time will tell if they were ahead of the curve in terms of a budding offensive game, or if he’s going to be another in a glut of bottom-line prospects.

On the board at 173: F- Morgan Barron, F- Sasha Chmelevski; F- Cole Guttman; G- Dylan Ferguson

Cedric Pare (Kirk Luedeke photo)

 

5. Victor Berglund, Rd. 7- pick 195

Right Defense; 6-0/165; 02 Aug 99; MoDo (Sweden)

Central Scouting Rank: 109- Europe

Talent analysis: Small, skilled defender was a total stealth/under the radar pick, as no one we were with at the draft knew who he was. We’ll let Bradley describe him thus: “Our Swedish guys were on top of him. They think he’s a mobile D. He’s skilled, ultra-skilled, and he skates well. Small. Six-footer, but [European scouts] P.J. [Axelsson] and Sven [Svensson] and Victor [Nybladh], they were pounding the table for him and we went along with it and I think we might have something there. Talking to his strength coach after the pick, he’s got him working on putting some muscle and weight on so we look forward to seeing him, too, at development camp.”

Pick analysis: It’s the seventh round. Why not?

On the board at 195: G- Cayden Primeau; F- Sammy Walker; F- Logan Cockerill; D- Croix Evingson; D- Phil Kemp

 

6. Daniel Bukac, Rd. 7- pick 204

Right Defense; 6-4/195; 29 Apr 99; Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Central Scouting Rank: 173; Red Line Report: 97

Talent analysis: Big, rangy Czech defender is raw and needs a lot of development, but could have a decent payoff down the road. Good skater for his size who will get better and more powerful in his stride as he adds lower leg strength. Long stick- terrific reach. Didn’t put up many points, but had a tough transition to North America with the Wheaties and came on strong at the end. More from Bradley: “He’s raw. He’s a project. Kid from the Czech Republic that played in the Western Hockey League. At the start of the year – he’s come leaps and bounds with his development. Talking to the people – the coaches, the management, and the GM in Brandon, they’re very excited about him coming back to Brandon. They’re expecting big things from him. We look forward to seeing him in camp.”

Pick analysis: When you’re picking this late, taking a project D with size and upside is a pretty good way to go.

On the board at 204: G- Dayton Rasmussen; F- Nick Swaney; D- Dylan Coghlan