Should the Bruins be looking to trade for a first round pick?

Should Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney trade for a first-round pick in this week'd upcoming draft?
2014 NHL Draft - Round 1
2014 NHL Draft - Round 1 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

With the draft days away, the rumor mill is in overdrive and X (formerly Twitter) is awash with speculation on potential trades. As it stands, the Bruins do not have a first-round pick in the 2024 draft and some commentators and fans are looking for ways to pick one up. Everyone knows that picking up a first-rounder will mean giving up someone of value and there are plenty of articles here on Causeway Crowd looking at who could be offered up as part of any trade deal.

Assuming the Bruins can make a trade, the next question is whether they should. There are two factors in this decision, firstly, what is there on offer in the draft. Secondly, if the Bruins are able to get a pick in the first round, are they likely to make the most of it? The first question is being hotly debated around the hockey world, with a huge range of opinions on the strength of this draft class and won’t be properly answered for a few years (at least). The second can be answered by reviewing the Bruins’ draft history.

Since 2014 the Bruins have had 9 first round draft picks. Some of them have been hits, and others have definitely been misses. Let’s delve into the last 10 years and look at how the Bruins first round picks have panned out.

David Pastrnak, Matt Grzelcyk, Pavel Zacha, Charlie Mcavoy, Jake Debrusk
Pastrnak, McAvoy and DeBrusk / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

The easiest group to assess are the guys who have come into the team and have stuck around. Pastrnak, DeBrusk and McAvoy are all Bruins stalwarts and have demonstrated their value to their team. Time will tell whether DeBrusk stays around, but all three are important pieces in the Bruins’ setup and demonstrate how they really get it right when the B’s front office gets it right.

Close behind this group is Trent Frederic (2016). After being drafted 29th overall he spent a couple of seasons developing in the NCAA and AHL before properly breaking into the Bruins lineup in the 20/21 season. His numbers haven’t been stellar (94 points in 278 Bruins regular season appearances) but he has performed well in the B’s bottom 6, showing even more promise when paired up with Charlie Coyle. His performance has improved over the last two seasons, with the 23/24 season netting a career-high 40 points. It may have been a slow start, but Frederic has demonstrated that he has been good value, and going into a contract year in 24/25, fans can hope to see him grow even more. Check out Scott Roche’s assessment of Frederic’s 23/24 season here.

John Beecher
Johnny Beecher / Rich Gagnon/GettyImages

The next pair to consider are Fabian Lysell and Johnny Beecher. Both were drafted relatively recently and both still working through the system. Unlike Pastrnak, DeBrusk, and McAvoy who were drafted and then broke into the NHL within a season or two, Lysell and Beecher are taking a little longer to get to where they need to be. Beecher is definitely on his way and managed to get a solid 52 NHL games under his belt in the 23/24 season. Coming into a contract year, Beecher needs to demonstrate continued growth if he wants to stick around in Boston, but based on what we saw over the last year, it might just be worth keeping him around.

Fabian Lysell, on the other hand, has been the source of some frustration for Bruins’ fans. Coming into the 2021 draft, there was a lot of excitement about the right winger, but after being selected 21st overall, there is a growing sense of disappointment and frustration that he has yet to make his NHL debut. Fans will be asking how long the organization will wait until they decide to move on (a question Zander Manning looks at here), but there is hope. Looking at his AHL stats, he has shown improvement, though maybe not at the rate impatient fans would hope for. Hopefully, this improvement continues as the young Swede continues to adapt to the North American game, and given that he has 2 seasons left on his contract there is time for him to demonstrate this to the Bruins and we will get to see him pull on the spoked B in the NHL.

Jakub Zboril, Johnny Brodzinski
Jakub Zboril / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

That brings us to the final trio, Jakub Zboril, Zachary Senyshyn, and Urho Vaakanainen. Combined they played 121 games for the Bruins and put up 25 points between them (less than Trent Frederic on his own). Unfortunately, none of these guys can be considered anything other than a bust. Zboril gave it a good run, pulling on the black and gold 76 times, but played out last season for the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate and is yet to re-sign. Senyshyn is playing for the Schwenninger Wild Wings in the DEL and doesn’t look likely to return to the NHL. The most successful of the trio is Vaakanainen, who is still plying his trade in the NHL for Anaheim. However, he is far from setting the world alight, with 68 games, 14 points, and a +/- of 0 in 23/24. His lack of production for the Bruins has continued and seems to stem more from him than the system that he was playing in.

So, of the 9 first-round picks that the Bruins have had over the last 10 years, 4 have been hits, 3 have been misses and the jury is still out on the other 2. This probably puts the Bruins in the middle of the pack when it comes to being able to draft high-quality talent in the first round. Given the type of value that they would have to trade away to get into the first round, it doesn’t make sense for the Bruins to make a move when they already have options later in the draft. The best option for them is to keep their powder dry, keep their talent, and look to the later rounds to build for the future. If they are desperate to make some trade moves, it would be better to see which veterans they can pick up to strengthen the lineup.