As we’re approaching the 2011 NHL Draft, it’s a good time to take a look at previous drafts and see how teams were built through proper drafting.
The Boston Bruins are the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions, but several key pieces of their success came to them at the 2006 NHL draft.
The Bruins drafted Phil Kessel first overall in the 2006 draft. Kessel had at one point been considered the top ranked prospect in the draft, but he had a disappointing final year leading up to the draft and dropped to fifth where he was snatched up by the Bruins.
Of course, we all know what happened with Kessel.
He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009 and one of the picks that came back to Boston was used to select Tyler Seguin. This year Seguin put up two goals and two assists in game two against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.
Since the Bruins have the Leafs 2011 first-round pick as well, that allowed them to ship their own first-round pick to Toronto in exchange for Tomas Kaberle, who won the Cup with the Bruins. Kaberle was tied for the points lead among Bruins’ defensemen in the playoffs.
In the second round of the 2006 draft, the Bruins had two picks. They used their first, 37th overall, to select Yuri Alexandrov. Alexandrov is currently playing in the AHL with the Providence Bruins.
Boston’s second pick in the second round was 50th overall and it was used to select Milan Lucic. Lucic’s physical play, dedication and strength was a big part of the Bruins championship run. The Vancouver native was calm and collected while playing for the Cup against his hometown’s favourite team and his hitting frequently tilted the games in the Bruins’ favour.
In the third round, the Bruins selected another key piece of their championship team: Brad Marchand.
Marchand was a thorn in the side of the Canucks all series. From punching Daniel Sedin several times because he “felt like it” to scoring a big shorthanded goal in game three to generally agitating whenever he had the chance, Marchand made life difficult for the Vancouver Canucks and got himself a Stanley Cup in the process. He scored 11 goals in the playoffs, just one fewer than David Krejci for the team lead.
While it doesn’t look like there were any hidden gems for the Bruins in the later rounds, Boston also made a trade at the 2006 draft. They sent goaltender Andrew Raycroft to Toronto getting Tuukka Rask in return. Rask effectively took the Bruins starting job from Tim Thomas in 2009-2010, before watching from the bench as the Bruins won the 2011 Cup.
Obviously players drafted in other years also contributed to the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup championship, but the 2006 draft brought several key pieces to the team that put them over the hump. Boston may not have won the Cup without players like Lucic and Marchand on their team. The Bruins’ physical edge was a big reason why they were able to defeat the Canucks in the final.