Quick Hitter: B’s go with Finnish 2-way D in 1st

Urho Vaakanainen (Kirk Luedeke photo)

The Boston Bruins passed on several high-profile players including touted Finnish forward Kristian Vesalainen to select countryman and left-shooting D Urho Vaakanainen in the first round of Friday’s NHL Entry Draft in Chicago.

A smooth-skating defender who describes his own playing style of one similar to NHL All-Star Roman Josi, Vaakanainen has spent the last two seasons playing pro hockey in the Finnish SM-Liiga. Tall, with a thin build, the 18-year-old was a member of Finland’s gold medal and silver medal-winning U18 teams in 2016-17, and also played on the 2017 WJC (U20) squad that woefully underperformed in Canada last winter.

Described by one NHL scout as a player whose “skating is first-rate; he can pivot and cut decisively in tight spaces and change direction on a dime,” the same talent evaluator also said that Vaakanainen “may not possess the high-level hands and offensive hockey IQ to be a top scoring presence on an NHL blue line.”

In going with Vaakanainen, the B’s bolstered the left side of their blue line while passing on some popular names up front who were projected to be good fits in pre-draft analysis, namely the big and talented Vesalainen (whose slide ended with Winnipeg at 24), Ryan Poehling (Montreal) and Robert Thomas (St. Louis).

“I’m a great skater, I can move the puck, I have a great first pass,” Vaakanainen said after his selection. “I’m a complete package- a two-way defenseman and steady guy.”

The newest Bruin said he expected to be a first-round selection but admitted that Boston was a surprise in that he’d had little contact with the team outside of the draft and scouting combine interview he had with the club in Buffalo late last month.

“Just try to get some strength and get my shot better,” he said when asked about areas of improvement. “Working on the offensive blue line.”

His 2 goals and 6 points last season speaks to some of the reasons Vaakanainen might have been under the radar as a 2-way defender, but he had a productive U18 tournament this spring and you can bet that the B’s are banking on him to perhaps develop a more prolific offensive element this coming year when he is expected to play a key role with SaiPa in his third pro season before his NHL teams looks at possibly bringing him over.

Vaakanainen has the measurables of a modern NHL D-man, and in fairness was ranked as a first-rounder in several draft publications and lists while also finishing (no pun intended) as the 8th European skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service. He might not have had some of the buzz surrounding some of his other peers, but the Bruins quietly tabbed him as their man and were able to get him.

Day 2 begins at 9 local in Chicago with the B’s currently set to make 5 more selections in the 2nd, 4th, 6th & 7th rounds (they own Florida’s seventh pick in addition to their own).

 

 

 

 

 

Audio post: Bruins options for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft

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Hello, all- as promised…back with the second part of what we started on Monday, which was an in-depth look at the players the Boston Bruins made available to the Vegas Golden Knights (VGK) for tonight’s Expansion Draft.

In this one-hour audio post, founder Kirk Luedeke looks at some players that make sense for the B’s in the first couple of rounds. Is one of your targets on his list? Listen and find out. While this is a Bruins-centric blog, fans of other teams welcome- he just might cover some players you are interested in and want to know more about.

 

Post script- Only guy I missed from my New England Hockey Journal Bruins draft preview is Czech C Filip Chytil. Chytil has good height, length and is an excellent skater who plays with pace. He’s typically projected in the 40’s and beyond, but he was a late riser after a strong U18s and overcoming some injuries. He’s probably overvalued at 18, but we’ve seen teams grab dark horses before, especially in a draft like this one. Chytil is a first-round talent at least, and TSN’s Craig Button pushed him into his 1st round in his last edition. So, Chytil’s not in the audio file, but should the B’s (or your favorite team) end up with him- here you go.

New England Hockey Journal June issue: Boston Bruins Draft Preview

http://www.hockeyjournal.com/nehj_201706/index.html

 

Bruins 2017 NHL Draft Primer

Your TSP founder posted this on the Boston Bruins Reddit yesterday, so it might as well go up here:

What: 2017 NHL Entry Draft

When: Round 1- Friday June 23 (6 pm EST), Rounds 2-7 Saturday June 24 (beginning at 9 a.m. EST) Televised on NBCSN

Where: United Center; Chicago, IL

Bruins selections: (6 total- R1, R2, R4, R6 R7x2)

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Dominic Tiano: Recapping the Sherwin-Williams NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game

Editor’s note- Dominic Tiano traveled to Quebec City for the 2017 CHL Top Prospects Game and filed this report on some of the top players for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago this coming June. Thanks to Dom for putting his thoughts down and let us echo the support for the people of Quebec and everyone affected by the tragedy there.- KL

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Let me start off by saying that I am deeply saddened by the shootings late Sunday evening at a Quebec City Mosque. There was a division among the ranks whether the game should proceed. After increased security and assurances from Quebec City Police, and meeting with the players and their families Monday morning, Canadian Hockey League Commissioner David Branch said the game would be a go.
Our thoughts remain with the families that lost loved ones and those still battling in hospital.
Before we get to the game, let’s look at some of the testing that took place on Sunday (From the CHL press release).

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