The Bruins know better than most about the trials and tribulations that come with striking gold in the first round of the NHL Draft.
A poor stretch of selections — over the years or ... well, in one draft — can potentially set your franchise back a decade, while finding a diamond in the rough can accelerate a rebuild or put an already stacked roster over the top.
It's a game of calculated risk when it comes to navigating the perilous waters of the first round— an undertaking that Don Sweeney and the Bruins likely won't get a chance to participate in for the second time in the last three seasons.
Thanks a February deal that saw Boston acquire Ondrej Kase and ship most of David Backes' albatross contract over to Anaheim, the Bruins are set to enter this offseason without a first-round pick in what is expected to be a very deep pool of intriguing prospects up for grabs on Tuesday when round one of the 2020 NHL Draft — held virtually this year — gets underway at 7 p.m.
Here’s a look at the Bruins’ current spots on the draft board for Wednesday — with Round 2 set to commence at 11:30 a.m.
- Round 2: No. 58
- Round 3: No. 89
- Round 5: No. 151
- Round 6: No. 182
- Round 7: No. 213
*Along with the lack of a first-round pick, the Bruins also relinquished their 2020 fourth-round pick as part of a February 2019 deal that brought aboard Marcus Johansson from the Devils.
As was the case in 2018 when the Bruins attempted to barter their way back into the first round after dealing their top draft capital in a deal to acquire Rick Nash from the Rangers, Sweeney is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to potentially earning another shot at drafting a top-30 prospect on Wednesday evening.
“I obviously would love to, as hard as it is to get back into the first round or accumulate picks in the middle rounds, we are looking to acquire some — again, some of the teams have a monopoly to some degree, so how eager they are and player movement associated with picks, they get to determine that," Sweeney said Monday on NESN. "They’re canvasing as wide as possible. But I’d love to increase the volume overall.”
But even if the Bruins are unable to find a way back in the first round, there stands a good chance that a top-tier prospect could be up for grabs by the time Boston is currently scheduled to begin drafting — starting with No. 58 overall in the second round.
“It’s a deep draft," Sweeney said. "I think the upper echelon of the draft has some really, really high-end players. I think the later part of the first .. probably all the way through the second, is quality. And after that, I think there’s a lot of variants that each individual team will find, whether that’s positional or size, some sort of flavor that I think really draws their attention and I think you’ll see some players follow traditional list orders."
With the 2020 NHL Draft set to get underway shortly, here's a look at a few prospects that Boston should keep tabs on in the second round and beyond:
Luke Tuch – Wing
Weight: 203 pounds
Team: U.S. National U18 Team
Stats: 47 GP - 15 goals, 15 assists
Rankings: No. 43 (TSN / Bob McKenzie), No. 40 (Central Scouting / North American), No. 58 (TSN / Craig Button), No. 56 (Future Considerations)
Target Range: 2nd Round
The Bruins have made the center position a priority over the last few seasons when it comes to finding suitable replacements for when both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci eventually hang up their skates and call it quits. As such, Sweeney and his staff have added young pivots like Jack Studnicka, John Beecher and Trent Frederic into the B's prospect pipeline over the last few years — hoping that this next wave will be able to supplement at least some of what will be lost when the Bruins' veteran core departs.
While it wouldn't come as much of a surprise if Boston continues to target centers in the early stages of the 2020 Draft, Boston is in need of more top-flight wings in the organization — capable of injecting some scoring punch down the road as Boston hands over the keys to the franchise to the likes of David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy. Luckily, there are a number of young wings that could be available when Boston gets on the board to pick in the later stages of the second round — such as BU freshman Luke Tuch.
While some draft projections have the power forward scooped up a bit earlier in the second round, the appeal of a young player like Tuch does make him a logical fit for Boston if he falls to where TSN's Craig Button projects him to drop in this draft. The younger brother of Golden Knights forward and BC alum Alex Tuch, Luke projects as a two-way winger with an already sturdy frame that should serve him well against older competition in Hockey East.
Even if he didn't exactly light the world on fire in terms of his scoring totals with the US National Team Development Program, Tuch's size and straightforward style of play could make him a potential middle-six weapon in Boston as he rounds out his offensive game.
Some time in the NCAA, with the shorter schedule, will be good for Tuch. It will allow him time to continue to add muscle to his frame, getting ready to play his physical style in the NHL. If he develops well, he could become a top-six forward in the NHL but one would like to see him increase his offensive production in college. Even if Tuch doesn’t become a top-six player, with his size, skating, and defensive responsibility he still has a good chance of carving out an NHL career, making him a somewhat safe pick. Tuch’s game is reminiscent of his brother, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.