MONTREAL — Getting to the harder areas of the ice was a challenge for the Bruins this spring. The players they drafted Friday likely won’t help them do that next year, but in future years ... maybe.
The Bruins chose three offensive-minded centers (second-rounder Matthew Poitras and fourth-rounders Cole Spicer and Dans Locmelis), a pair of 6-foot-2-inch defensemen (fifth-rounder Frederic Brunet and seventh-rounder Jackson Edward) and a 6-4 goalie (sixth-rounder Reid Dyck).
Poitras, taken 54th overall out of Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League, is the most intriguing of the group.
The right-shot center, listed at 5-11 and 176 pounds, was widely regarded as a second- or third-round pick. EliteProspects called him “one of the most energetic players in the draft, especially on the forecheck. His intensity and pace is rarely found in draft-eligible players.”
So the Bruins, apparently, are getting a player with a good motor. Can he make plays, or operate at different speeds? Can he use his wheels to defend? It could be the difference between a future on an NHL fourth line, or somewhere higher in the lineup.
Bruins associate director of amateur scouting Ryan Nadeau said Poitras’a offense should develop.
“He’s got a lot to work on, as a lot of young kids do,” Nadeau said. “We see a player that’s a driver, who has the puck a lot and can make things happen. Even when he doesn’t have the puck, the motor’s running. He’s getting involved. He’s someone who keeps getting into dirty ice.”
That sounds like the NHL players Poitras enjoys watching.
“I like to look up to a guy like Brayden Point, or maybe a grittier guy like Anthony Cirelli,” Poitras said. “Gritty forward, likes to go in the corners. Obviously Cirelli scores big goals. I kind of see myself as that skilled, gritty forward.”
Poitras, who turns 19 in March, put up 21 goals and 50 points in 68 games last year, his first in the OHL. He ranked third on his team behind Anaheim draft pick Sasha Pastujov (66th overall in 2021) and Winnipeg choice Danny Zhilkin (77th in 2022). He went 1-3—4 in five playoff games.
“They’ve got the core group now,” Poitras said of the Bruins roster. “Hopefully in the future, I’ll get myself into the lineup.”
Poitras is from Brooklin, Ontario, and played minor hockey with the Whitby Wildcats program. His only connection to the Bruins: he’s buddies with fellow Whitby product Ian McKinnon, who spent the last three seasons as a Bruins farmhand. McKinnon earned a rep as a fighter in the minors. Poitras said McKinnon has not shared any grappling tips.
“I could use a few,” he said.
At No. 117, the Bruins took Spicer out of the US National Team Development Program. Spicer (5-10, 174) is headed to Minnesota-Duluth.
Spicer, who turned 18 last month, was ranked 121st among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
He scored 20 goals and had 39 points in 58 games last year with the US Under-18 team, and 3-2—5 in six games at the World Junior U-18s. He shoots left.
Locmelis, taken 119th overall, is a Latvian forward playing for Luleå HF J20 in Sweden. Locmelis moved from his home country to Sweden at 15, not unlike David Pastrnak.
A left shot, Locmelis (6-0, 170) put up 18 goals and 34 points in 44 games at the J20 (junior) level in Sweden, and appeared in two Swedish Elite League (men’s) games with Luleå (0-0—0). He will try to earn his spot in that league this season.
Naudeu called him “a shooter type in the middle.”
At No. 132, the Bruins chose smooth puck-mover Brunet, who plays for QMJHL Rimouski. Listed at 6-2 and 185 pounds, he put up 12-34—46 in 63 games last season, his second in the Q.
“It was a big year for me,” said Brunet, who said he needs to work on his defense to reach the next levels of the game. “I’ve worked a lot this year with my defensive coaches to be a bit more reliable, especially on box-outs and on the one-on-one battles, be more tougher. I think I’ve come a long way with this. I think my offense is at a good point for now.”
Brunet, who moved from Gatineau, Quebec to Quebec City last summer, has been training at the University of Laval with a group including Patrice Bergeron. He has only spoken to the Bruins captain briefly, but he has been watching.
“I was shy to talk to him,” Brunet said. “He’s kind of a big deal in the NHL. Having a guy like him in the gym is awesome. I couldn’t wait to watch him do his thing and see his example.”
Brunet had a large group of family and friends at the draft. Being a French-speaking kid, who grew up a Canadiens fan, to be drafted at Le Centre Bell, Brunet now has a wonderful memory (and a new rooting interest).
“I didn’t hear anything once I got drafted,” he said. “I was like, woah. Incredible feeling. Once you go down the stairs and you hear all the fans cheering for a Quebec guy, it’s pretty awesome. What are the odds my draft is here?”
Dyck (183rd overall), out of WHL Swift Current, is listed at 6-4 and 194 pounds. The Winnipeg-area product was ranked eighth among North American goalies by NHL Central Scouting.
Dyck, who said he looks up to Andrei Vasilevskiy (“he’s big and has great hands”), posted an .884 save percentage in 23 games last season, his first in the WHL. He played as a backup, but the Bruins believe goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham can build his game.
Among his peers, he’s known for making “Reid Dyck-ulous” saves.
“People have a time with my name sometimes,” he said. “I’ve heard a couple neat ones. My name’s Reid Dyck, you’ve got to embrace it.”
Edward, taken at No. 200, is a raw, left-shot defenseman from OHL London. The Newmarket, Ontario product (6-2, 194) was ranked 123rd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
He skated in 54 games last year in his OHL debut, picking up six assists and 51 penalty minutes. He didn’t play much, Nadeau said, but the edge in his game projects well to the NHL level.
Raised in Maple Leafs country, Edward became a Bruins fan in 2011. He said Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara were his favorite players.
“Definitely more Marchand [than Chara],” said Edwards, when asked about his game. “But with a bigger body.”
The Bruins dealt the No. 91 pick (acquired in the 2021 trade that shipped goaltender Dan Vladar to the Flames) to the Kraken in exchange for picks Nos. 117 and 132.
Seattle took Harvard-committed center Ben MacDonald, of Nobles and Greenough, at No. 91. MacDonald, the Weston-raised son of ex-Harvard captain and Hobey Baker Award winner Lane MacDonald, will play in the BCHL (West Kelowna) next season.
The Bruins punted on their final pick (215th) when a player they wanted was taken, Nadeau said. They swapped it for the Kings’ seventh-rounder next year.