Bruins select Quinn Olson in third round of NHL Draft
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Bruins added to their modest haul of fresh-faced Black-and-Gold wannabes here Saturday in the final day of the NHL Draft, picking up three forwards, a defenseman, and the requisite pocketful of hope that one or two of them may find steady employment one day on Causeway Street.
“I think we got some depth,” said Scott Bradley, Boston’s longtime chief talent evaluator. “We spread it out pretty good — a couple of good forwards and a defenseman from Russia. So we are excited.”
Less than 24 hours after selecting Elmira (N.Y.) long man John Beecher, a 6-foot-3-inch center, in the first round with the No. 30 overall pick, the Bruins began Saturday by nabbing Quinn Olson, a rawboned left winger from Alberta, who collected 66 points in 54 games this past season for the Okotoks (Alberta) Oilers.
Olson was Boston’s lone pick in the third round (No. 92), their highest pick of the day after surrendering their Round 2 pick to the Devils in the trade-deadline deal that brought in Marcus Johansson for the playoff push.
Olson gave a scouting report on himself: “I think the strengths are my competitiveness. I think I work hard in the corners. My hockey IQ. I make good plays and just try and finish on my opportunities as much as I can, and I just think I’m a 200-foot player as well.”
With their following three picks, the Bruins selected two forwards and a defenseman:
■ Round 5 (No. 154) — Roman Bychkov, D, from Russia’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
■ Round 6 (No. 185) — Matias Mantykivi, F, from SaiPa in the Finnish Elite League.
■ Round 7 (No. 192) — Jake Schmaltz, C/W from the USHL’s Chicago Steel.
None of Saturday’s four draft picks attended the draft.
Mantykivi, 5-10, is listed on some internet sites as only 143 pounds, but Bradley asserted the tricky Finnish forward is a little heavier.
“Maybe Pavel Datsyuk,” said Mantykivi when asked whose game he tries to model. “He’s been my idol since a young boy, just like the forechecks and stickhandling and passing skills.”
Bradley, whose father, Bart, long ago advocated for the deal that brought Cam Neely to the Bruins in 1986, obviously sounded the most intrigued by Beecher. Rarely have the Bruins drafted a forward with Beecher’s size (6-3, 210) and Bradley, though hesitant to draw a direct parallel, understood why Beecher likes to model himself after Blake Wheeler’s game.
“He’s special,” said Bradley. “He can really skate. He has a great pair of legs — big, strong, strong on pucks. We project him to be a two-way guy. And we think he has more offense than he showed this year [with the US National Team Development Program]. He chipped in pretty good. They had such a high-profile team, right? He was overshadowed by their big guns. We expect him to come in and show some good things in development camp . . . and then he’ll go to Michigan. We’re excited about him.”
The Bruins hope all five of the weekend draft picks will attend the upcoming Development Camp (June 26-28) in Brighton. The one exception, said Bradley, could be Bychkov, the club unable to confirm his attendance when the draft closed shop at Rogers Arena late in the afternoon.
“This was a tough draft,” said Bradley. “We hit on a lot of guys on our list, so we got down 110 or 120 names on our list . . . and we were not short on names, but we were getting down to the nitty-gritty. So you start scrambling a little bit at the end. We had an interest in a goalie late, but that didn’t develop.”
The last pick, Schmaltz, was traded late in the USHL season, said Bradley, from Chicago to Green Bay, and will attend the University of North Dakota for the upcoming academic season.
“He’s got a lot up side to him,” Bradley said of the 6-1, 167-pound Schmaltz. “He’s got a two-way element to his game, as well. We look heavily at the centers who maybe can play both positions.”
Mantykivi, noted Bradley, played for SaiPa Lappeenranta, his hometown team, a first-division championship club.
“Very smart player” said Bradley. “Hockey sense . . . not elite, but very special, and maybe can be [elite] one day.”
The speedy Olson also projects as a two-way center, said Bradley.
“Deceptive speed,” he said. “Excellent vision. Can make high-end plays. A little undersized [5-11/170], so we are hoping for some development, physically. But we are excited about him as well. He can develop and put some muscle on . . . he’s got some jam. He’s just 170 pounds and all our guys liked him.”
Olson will play at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the upcoming season, helping to fill out a Bulldogs roster that will see many players depart after winning the NCAA Div. 1 championship.
“I know they are excited about him coming in,” added Bradley. “He has some layers to his game.”
Beecher will play at Michigan, while Olson is expected to remain in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and Bychkov with Lokomotiv. Schmaltz, though from Wisconsin, will suit up for Div. 1 North Dakota.
Time to decide
The Bruins were the only team to arrive late at the draft podium Friday night, with GM Don Sweeney later saying the delay was because there was some debate at the table whether to deal the pick, possibly to flip down in the order (from No. 30) and then add a pick.
The possible target if they dropped: 5-8 right winger Bobby Brink, who ultimately was nabbed at No. 34 by the Flyers.
Brink, from Minnetonka, Minn., collected 35 goals and 68 points for Sioux City of the USHL. His middle name: Orr.
“After Bobby Orr,” Brink told NHL.com in recent days, “because my dad played hockey and loved Bobby Orr. I think being named after one of the best players in the history of hockey is pretty cool actually.”