SUNRISE, Fla. — Gary Bettman stepped to the podium ahead of the No. 13 pick at the BB&T Center on Friday night, and the NHL commissioner quipped, “We’ll do these one at a time.”
The Bruins had the next three picks, the No. 13 from the Kings as part of the Milan Lucic deal, their No. 14 pick, and the No. 15 from the Flames in the Dougie Hamilton deal.
And while general manager Don Sweeney said he tried hard to move up to select one of the three top defensemen in the draft — BC’s Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov, and Zachary Werenski — he was not able to do so.
All three of those defensemen were gone by No. 8, and Sweeney and the Bruins had to settle for Jakub Zboril at No. 13.
“I had tried to get up further in the draft, wasn’t able to do that,” said Sweeney, who added that the Bruins were committed to taking at least one defenseman in the first round.
“Everybody knew there were sort of three defensemen that stood out. We speculated all along where I thought they would break, and it went as advertised. That’s why I think we tried as hard as we did to get into that grouping of players.”
In addition to Zboril, Boston chose left wing Jake DeBrusk and right wing Zachary Senyshyn.
Sweeney said the team could have moved back, but decided against it because they weren’t sure that Senyshyn would still be there.
Zboril, who played with David Pastrnak at the world juniors for the Czech Republic, was expected to go in the first round— many predictions had him going to Boston — but the other two were surprise choices. Senyshyn is regarded as a reach in the middle of the first round.
“I think it was a surprise for me. I can’t believe it right now,” said Senyshyn, who compared his game to that of Chris Kreider of the Rangers. “I think I’m a very explosive kid. I play with a lot of pace and I play with a lot of speed. I think I can really take the puck to the net and score goals like he can.”
Senyshyn spent this past season with Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL, scoring 26 goals and 19 assists in 66 games.
Defenseman Zboril spent last season with Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, with 13 goals and 20 assists in 44 games, after coming over from the Czech Republic.
“I had a good feeling from their interview,” said Zboril, who could be two or three years away from the NHL. “And then when you’re sitting on the chair and you’re just hoping and hoping and then they call your name, it feels awesome.”
Said Sweeney, “Zboril is a two-way guy that moves the puck. He’s got skating ability, but he’s a first-pass guy right away, and I think that is so important now for guys that can go back, identify it as early as possible. There are just very few defensemen that have the ability to carry the puck through the neutral zone.”
DeBrusk comes from a hockey lineage, the son of Louie DeBrusk, who played 401 games in the NHL, who DeBrusk called his “biggest fan.”
The elder DeBrusk was, in fact, coached by Claude Julien in Hamilton in the AHL in 2001-2002. DeBrusk said he intended to push to make the team this season, but said he believes that two or three years is a safer bet.
The Bruins re-signed unrestricted free agent Adam McQuaid to a four-year, $11 million deal that comes with a $2.75 million cap hit.
“Adam McQuaid re-signing with us is a big plus,” general manager Don Sweeney said.
“He’s a big part of our organization. He’s a tremendous leader on and off the ice. He brings an edge and a physicality that we need to maintain.”
Sweeney had maintained in recent days that the team would like to get McQuaid signed. That became significantly easier with the subtraction of a little more than half of Lucic’s salary, along with Hamilton’s contract no longer an issue.
McQuaid earned $1,566,667 last season, when he played 63 games, in a season interrupted by injury.
Logjam in net
In the haul the Bruins got back from Lucic was an interesting name: 25-year-old goaltender Martin Jones, who is a restricted free agent.
The move means the Bruins are now loaded with goaltenders, with starter Tuukka Rask and prospects Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre.
Sweeney said he would be proactive talking to teams about his goaltenders, but also sounded fine with the idea that Jones would back up Rask.
“We felt all along that Tuukka was put in a tough spot last year and we’re very comfortable now with Martin as potentially part of our group,” Sweeney said. “So I think it’s a real depth in the organization.”