NHL teams build their teams in many different ways. Some construct their clubs via free agency while others do it through trades. However, the main way teams create a roster is through the NHL Draft. Most years have maybe one or two players make the roster, but some years the general manager gets it right and gets a cornerstone or two for the franchise. The Last Word on Hockey is doing the best draft class for each team with the exception of the Seattle Kraken. Today we look at the Boston Bruins‘ best draft class.
Boston Bruins Best Draft Class: 2006
2006 was a pivotal draft for the Boston Bruins. The team was in the midst of a 34-year championship drought that would not be broken for five more years. Boston had not even won a postseason series since the 1998-99 season when they bested the Carolina Hurricanes. The Bruins franchise had not garnered the reputation they have developed in the last decade. This team did not have a clear direction. With that said, the 2006 draft changed the direction of the franchise for the next 10 years.
Phil Kessel, First Round, 5th Overall
Many people don’t think of Phil Kessel as a Boston Bruin. He only spent a few years with the team before being traded to the rival Toronto Maple Leafs. It wasn’t so much Kessel’s contributions on the ice, but his trade return, that makes him one of Boston’s best selections. While he is one of the better players to be selected, he brought a return of two first-round draft choices and one in the second round. The second-round pick would be Jared Knight, a winger who never appeared in an NHL game. But the first-round picks would be a different story. The selections would be Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. Seguin, of course, contributed to the Stanley Cup victory in 2011 and Hamilton was a critical piece on Boston’s blue line in their run in 2013.
Yuri Alexandrov, Second Round, 37th Overall
Taking a Russian player in the NHL draft is somewhat of a gamble. While many foreign players are attracted to the NHL for the money and prestige that they won’t get in their home countries, the Russian hockey market is different. The KHL is the closest thing there is to the NHL outside of North America. And they pay well too. Apparently playing at home was too attractive to pass up for Yuri Alexandrov. The defenceman played one year with the Providence Bruins in the AHL but quickly returned to Russia and most recently played for the KHL’s Sochi HC last season.
Milan Lucic, Second Round, 50th Overall
Milan Lucic played a physical game that was eponymous with the Bruins hard-nosed style. While he wasn’t the flashiest offensive player, he was still a solid top-six forward in his time with the Bruins. He could be relied upon for 45 points in a season and managed to eclipse the 60 point mark twice. Lucic was an integral piece of the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning roster as well as the team that lost to Chicago in six games in 2013. Although he has since moved on, he still managed to have a pair of solid seasons with the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers.
Brad Marchand, Third Round, 71st Overall
Boston’s tiny ball of hate, Brad Marchand was also a selection in the 2006 draft. When he first broke into the NHL, Marchand was a second line forward. He had a 35 point floor in a fully healthy season. A late-career breakout in 2016-17 redefined his role. He blossomed into one of the NHL’s premier top-line left wings. A member of Boston’s current Perfection Line, Marchand was worth more than a third-round pick. He has 715 points in 804 games. With a Stanley Cup Ring and two more Stanley Cup Final appearances in his career, Marchand makes a strong case for his draft class to be the best in Boston Bruins history.
Andrew Bodnarchuk, Fifth Round 128th Overall
Sometimes, the NHL is just out of reach. Andrew Bodnarchuk got a taste of the NHL in his 42 career games. The career AHLer played in just five games with the Bruins in his career. He made other appearances with the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche. But for the most part, he spent his career in the minors. Bodnarchuk has since moved on to playing in Germany’s professional hockey league, the DEL. While he never panned out into an NHL player, he made it further than many others and frankly, little is expected of players in the fifth round or later.
Levi Nelson, Sixth Round, 158th Overall
A few very strong seasons with the Swift Current Broncos from Nelson made him an attractive flier of a pick for the Bruins. He never appeared in an NHL contest but did spend five seasons in the AHL. The NHL may have never been in the cards for Nelson. His career came to an end following the 2017-18 season with the Sheffield Steelers of Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League.
Boston Bruins Draft Class of 1979
The Boston Bruins’ best draft class very well could have been the class of 1979. It was headlined by the eighth overall selection of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque. This class played a combined 4,934 NHL games, with all but 109 of them coming from Bourque, Brad McCrimmon, Keith Crowder, Larry Melnyk, and Mike Krushelnyski. Ultimately, what held this class back from being the best in franchise history was the lack of a Stanley Cup coming back to Boston. But the talent found here rivals or surpasses that of the 2006 group.
Boston Bruins Draft Class of 1997
The Bruins held quite a few draft selections in 1997. They drafted 12 players in that year alone. What held this class back was the lack of NHL talents. Half of this class never saw the ice for an NHL game. What put them in the conversation was the high level of talent found at the top. Boston held two picks in the first round and chose Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov. Both were traded during the 2005-06 season when Boston retooled and acquired some important pieces for the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship roster.