2022 NHL Draft: Analyzing Bruins' biggest needs with their six picks

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2022 NHL Draft: Analyzing Bruins' biggest needs with their six picks originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins have finally found a new head coach in Jim Montgomery, but there is still plenty of offseason work remaining for general manager Don Sweeney and his staff.

The 2022 NHL Draft begins Thursday night in Montreal. The Bruins do not have a first-round pick because they sent it to the Anaheim Ducks as part of the Hampus Lindholm trade earlier this year. Boston will begin its draft Friday in the second round.

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Even though Boston has just three selections in the first five rounds, it's a very important draft for this franchise as it tries to re-stock a prospect pool that ranks among the league's worst.

Here are three needs the Bruins should address in the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft.

Offensive-minded center

The Bruins are woefully unprepared to replace Patrice Bergeron whenever he decides to retire. Boston lacks a top-tier center prospect even though it's had over a decade to draft and develop someone capable of filling a top-six role whenever Bergeron's career was winding down.

How bad is the Bruins' situation at center? They desperately need a 36-year-old Bergeron and 37-year-old David Krejci to return if they're going to have a chance at competing in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins have drafted just two centers in the first, second or third rounds over the last four drafts. John Beecher was a first-rounder (30th overall) in 2019 and did not make the kind of offensive impact at the University of Michigan that many people were hoping to see. He'll likely play with the Providence Bruins (AHL) next season and doesn't project to be anything more than a third-liner.

Brett Harrison was a third-round pick in 2021, and he just had a strong season with the OHL's Oshawa Generals, tallying 61 points (27 goals, 34 assists) in 65 games. Harrison is the only Bruins center prospect who might have top-six potential, and even that is a bit of a stretch.

The Bruins' No. 1 goal over the next couple drafts has to be finding a legit top-six center who consistently creates scoring chances for himself and teammates. Bergeron cannot play forever, and right now, the options to replace him on the NHL roster and throughout the prospect pool are laughably weak.

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Goal-scoring winger

Fabian Lysell's first season in North America was an excellent one. He posted 62 points (22 goals, 40 assists) in 52 games for the WHL's Vancouver Giants. Lysell shows great promise as a potential top-six winger in the NHL. In fact, he could potentially become a permanent fixture on Boston's roster as soon as next season.

Bruins' top prospect Fabian Lysell leads historic WHL playoff upset

The issue for the Bruins is they don't have another player like Lysell -- a speedy goal scorer with high-end offensive talent -- in their prospect pool. This is a problem for the Bruins because outside of David Pastrnak (26) and Jake DeBrusk (25), the franchise doesn't have any other wingers in the NHL under the age of 30 who can score 20-plus goals in a top-six position.

Pastrnak also is entering the final year of his contract. Regardless of whether he re-signs, the Bruins must continue to add high-end scoring ability to their organization. Boston ranked 15th in goals scored last season and a lack of scoring depth has been an Achilles heel for this team in its last four playoff runs.

Goaltender

The Bruins have seen two young goalies graduate to the NHL level in recent years, Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar. Vladar was traded to the Calgary Flames last summer in exchange for a 2022 third-round draft pick. Boston essentially chose Swayman over Vladar, and so far, it's proven to be the correct decision.

Swayman posted a 23-14-3 record with a .914 save percentage and a 2.41 GAA as a rookie last season. The ideal scenario for the Bruins is Swayman establishing himself as the true No. 1 netminder over veteran Linus Ullmark next season.

Even though Swayman could be the Bruins' top goalie for the next decade, they still need quality depth at the position. They have selected only one goaltender -- Sweden's Philip Svedeback in the fourth round last year -- over the last four drafts.

The Bruins don't need to invest a 2022 second-rounder in a netminder, but it would be a good idea to select another player at the position this week to strengthen their depth at the most important position.