Fans of the Bruins were left with a disappointing feeling after this weekend’s 2016 NHL Draft, not unlike what Celtics fans were dealing with after they failed to make any trades on Thursday during the 2016 NBA Draft. Of course, for both teams there is still hope that they can improve as free agency in both leagues begins on Friday. For the B’s, rumors had swirled that they were trying to trade for Blues defenseman (and former BU star) Kevin Shattenkirk. There was also a report that Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler was also a target for them.
Boston was supposedly a front-runner for former Harvard forward and 2016 Hobey Baker award winner Jimmy Vesey but then Nashville traded his rights to Buffalo last week. Harvard alum and Bruins GM Don Sweeney has to believe that they can still find a way to sign Vesey if he becomes a free agent as expected on Aug. 15 (assuming that he doesn’t sign with the Sabres). After the draft was completed on Saturday, Sweeney acknowledged that the B’s would throw their name into the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes but their chances in that are similar to the Celtics’ far-fetched pursuit of Kevin Durant. Interestingly enough, free agent left wing Milan Lucic could potentially return to Boston after he spent last season with the Kings.
It’s hard to gather much an idea of what you have from a given NHL Draft until at least a few years have passed. Rare is the player that can step onto an NHL club in the first or even second year of their pro career. Boston drafted six players which included four Americans and three defensemen. Their top pick was a name familiar to local college hockey followers as they took BU defensemen Charlie McAvoy with the No. 14 overall pick. The Long Island native doesn’t turn 19 until December so despite being the youngest player in NCAA Hockey, he was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team after posting three goals and 22 assists in his freshman campaign. Center Trent Frederic went No. 29 overall and defenseman Ryan Lindgren was No. 49 in the second round, they were teammates on the U.S. under-18 team last season. Boston’s other draft picks were fifth-round selections Finnish left wing Joona Koppanen (No. 135) and American defenseman Cameron Clarke (No. 136) with Swedish center Oskar Steen (No. 165) their final selection in the sixth round.
Sweeney and the rest of Boston’s front office’s real work starts now since if they don’t improve the club’s NHL roster, it’s unlikely that he’ll still be around here by the time that these aforementioned draft picks start to reach the Bruins. He had a final meeting with Loui Eriksson’s agent at the draft in Buffalo as he looks like he’ll hit free agency without a deal from the Bruins. It appears that backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson and defenseman Zach Trotman (both unrestricted free agents) won’t be back while right wing Lee Stempniak and defenseman John-Michael Liles (also unrestricted free agents) are guys that the B’s want to return.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate