For many hockey fans, the NHL Draft is one of the most wonderful times of the year. The Draft is the first opportunity that teams have to claim the rights of newly discovered talent, with the hopes that these young guns will one day be NHL caliber players for their club. These young players bring a fresh face to the game, and in many cases, they can bring never before seen talent to the NHL. However, scouting never before seen talent is not necessarily every team's main objective in the NHL Draft. The Boston Bruins were one such team who drafted players who are well fit for their system, hardworking and efficient, but not necessarily players who have a flashy style of play.
The most buzz around the Draft every year generally revolves around the first round of the event. This is largely due to the high-end talent that is often abundant in this early stage of the Draft. The Bruins were given the spotlight with the 18th overall pick in the Draft, and they used it to select 18 year old Finnish defenseman Urho Vaakanainen. Vaakanainen is the precise definition of a solid defenseman. His 6' 1" 188 pound frame may not be anything to gawk at, and his puck handling skills are far from extraordinary, but Vaakanainen works his magic in more subtle ways, usually by using his stick to break up the opposing team's play. The offensive skills that the young, left-handed Finn lacks, he more than makes up for with his heavy stick and incredible defensive hockey IQ. Any fan that heard Don Sweeney's post-pick interview was excited to hear that Vaakanainen will be the perfect complement to balance out a player like Charlie McAvoy who has unbelievable puck skills and strong offensive upside. While McAvoy pulls his weight on the rush, Vaakanainen is an outstanding player to trust in the Bruins' own end of the ice. Vaakanainen and McAvoy will be a defensive pairing that is guaranteed to be a fan favorite in a few years time.
The second round of the Draft saw the Bruins pick 18 year old center Jack Studnicka. Studnicka fits the Bruins' brand of centermen: responsible, two-way forwards. Studnicka has a reputation for being a quick, and effective forward, who can open the ice to make plays in the offensive zone, but can also come in clutch in his own zone, particularly on the penalty kill and by winning key faceoffs. Studnicka's adept skating ability allows him to keep up with an opposing team's powerplay, and effectively shut it down. Speaking of clutch, Studnicka showed himself to be a playoff monster this past season when he led his team, the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, in points in the playoffs with 15 points in 11 games. Studnicka will most likely prove to not be the player with the most dazzling dekes and dangles, but the type of player who works hard, and plays efficiently.
The Bruins had four other picks interspersed through the Draft (one in the 4th round, one in the 6th round, and two in the 7th round). These remaining picks all followed along the same theme that Vaakaneinen and Studnicka centered around: responsibility and efficiency. Don Sweeney and the Bruins Front Office made an obvious statement at the Draft that they clearly value hard work, character, and responsibility just as much, if not more than flashy skill. Bruins fans can expect this to be the overall motto of the 2017 Draft class when they begin appearing in professional games.