This article isn't going to be about taking shots at Don Sweeney. Even though the general manager of the Boston Bruins has had his rough patches, I've actually thought he's done a pretty good job drafting players during his 2-year tenure in Boston. Sweeney has drafted 2 defensemen that seem to be on a fast track to Boston for next season even though both guys are 19 years old. Jakub Zboril, Sweeney's first draft pick as general manager, had 41 points in 50 games in the QMJHL this past season. Some scouts are actually referring to Zboril as the potential home run pick in the 2015 draft all-together. The other defenseman is Charlie McAvoy who has had tremendous seasons at the junior and NCAA levels this year. Other Sweeney first round picks, Zach Senyshyn and Jake Debrusk have looked very good as well with Debrusk having 15 goals and 28 assists in Providence and Senyshyn scoring 42 goals in the OHL this season. Trent Frederic, the last of the Don Sweeney first round picks, has had a good season at the University of Wisconsin as well, having 33 points in 30 games. Those 5 players all came from the past 2 years alone. Not to mention, in the second round of Sweeney's first draft, he drafted Brandon Carlo who has been a top-line defenseman in Boston all year. It really looks like this group has the potential of being a special group of guys. So far, I'd say Sweeney's ability to draft is very good. My beef is mainly with Peter Chiarelli towards the end of his era here in Boston.
"But Mully, Chiarelli drafted Pastrnak!"
Well, I'll give him props for that one. Pastrnak has developed into one of the best young goal scorers in all of hockey and getting him with the 25th overall pick was an absolute home run for Chiarelli in his last draft as the Bruin's general manager. But from 2007-2013, Chiarelli's drafts weren't very good. I'll outline some of the draft picks that he made during these times, and hopefully, the readers won't get too upset reading these names.
I'll start out with Dougie Hamilton and Tyler Seguin. Though these 2 guys are proven to be good NHL players, they were traded because they both weren't good fits in Boston (both of them had different kinds of maturity issues). When 2 players have to be traded because they aren't a good fit for an organization, I consider those picks failures on the GM and his scouts.
The biggest bust during this time was goalie Malcolm Subban (pictured). Though many were surprised with a goalie going in the first round that year, Subban posted a 29-11-4 record with a .934 save percentage in the OHL the year before, prompting Chiarelli to take a shot at him. Since then, he's played in 2 NHL games in the past 4 years and has looked horrible in both outings. Another thing to note is that every year, statistically, he has gotten worse in the AHL and Boston is calling up other goalies in the system. Subban was looked at as a future starter at the NHL level, but right now it looks like his ceiling may be as a starting AHL goalie...yuck. Other recent picks such as Alex Khokhlachev and Anthony Camara have been disappointing as well. Both have spent the majority of their careers at the AHL level.
A little earlier we have the Jordan Caron, Joe Colborne, and Zach Hamill picks! Good lord, what a rough few years it was for Chiarelli and his staff. To give you an idea of just how rough this time was, the best remaining pick from the 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 drafts is Ryan Spooner and don't get me started on how inconsistent Ryan Spooner is. That is a blog post for another time. I could go into other bad draft picks like Brian Ferlin, Matt Gryzelcyk, Craig Cunningham, Justin Florek and Lane MacDermid, but you probably get the picture. Not to mention Chiarelli also traded away Michael Hutchinson, a solid back-up goalie (who is better than every other goalie on Boston's roster or system not named Tuukka Rask) to the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets.
Even though the Chiarelli era in Boston led us to a few great picks and trades, down the stretch it got rough and it seemingly put the aging Bruin's roster in a hole with very little promising young talent to shine a light at the end of the tunnel. Towards the end of his time in Boston, Peter Chiarelli was a really bad drafting general manager. One thing that Bruins fans can certainly be optimistic about is that it seems like Don Sweeney is much better in that area and has seemingly added 5 very good prospects to the Bruins farm system. This has allowed the fans to be very optimistic about the future of the franchise because we also have to keep in mind that both Marchand and Pastrnak are still improving on a yearly basis as well. Though things might be a little rocky right now, this team could be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in a few years and for that, I think Sweeney should keep his job even if the Bruins miss the playoffs yet again.
Ryan "Mully" Mulligan