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2022 NHL Draft: Key takeaways from Bruins' picks, trades around league originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Bruins did not own a first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, but they were still able to address several of their biggest roster weaknesses with six selections made Friday.
The Bruins clearly were intent on drafting prospects who play with offensive skill, skate well and push the pace. This is an encouraging strategy given the league's shift over the last decade toward a game where speed and skill are king.
Here are some Bruins-centric takeaways from the 2022 NHL Draft.
Bruins add much-needed depth at center
The Bruins are not prepared at all for the eventual departure of captain Patrice Bergeron, whenever that time comes. Boston's top center prospect -- 2019 first-rounder John Beecher -- had an underwhelming career at the University of Michigan and will play for the Providence Bruins next season. He projects to be a third-line center at best in the NHL.
After Bergeron, the best centers on the NHL roster are Erik Haula and Charlie Coyle, and neither is the ideal No. 2 center on a Stanley Cup contender. To put the Bruins' center depth into perspective, they are unlikely to contend in the Eastern Conference next season unless a 36-year-old (Bergeron) and 37-year-old (David Krejci) come back.
Therefore it was very important for the Bruins to bolster their depth and talent at center in the 2022 draft, and they did just that, selecting three players at the position with their first three picks.
Second round, 54th overall: Matthew Poitras, C, Guelph Storm (OHL)
Fourth round, 119th overall: Dans Locmelis, C, Lulea HF (Swedish Hockey League)
The addition of Poitras, Spicer and Locmelis provide the B's with much-needed playmaking skill, speed and grit down the middle of the ice.
"We’re happy we attacked the middle of the ice, not necessarily by design, but that’s how it played out and we like all three players that play that position because of their creativity and offensive abilities and their growth," Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told reporters. "There’s a development upside to all three of them on that, in the middle of the ice, with the creativity and the offensive production."
Sweeney later added: "The centers are definitely an area that we needed to target, and I can’t tell you that all three of those guys are going to play in the National Hockey League — I certainly hope so, because I think they’re all very talented and have special skills offensively."
It remains to be seen if the Bruins can develop these players into quality centers. The last center the Bruins drafted and developed who consistently played a top-six role was Krejci, and he was a 2004 second-round pick. But it was at least encouraging for the Bruins to recognize their weaknesses at center and waste little time addressing it Friday.
A goalie with intriguing upside
Reid Dyck's stats from the 2021-22 WHL season don't look very good. He posted a 6-12-1 record with a .884 save percentage and a 4.26 GAA in 23 games for the Swift Current Broncos. But the Broncos were among the WHL's worst teams last season.
Dyck's athleticism, size (6-foot-3) and instincts are impressive enough to gamble on his potential. He does a good job locating the puck through traffic and is pretty good at stopping breakaways.
Despite a tough season for the Broncos, Dyck was invited to the CHL's Top Prospects Game in March, where he stopped all 23 shots sent his way.
The Bruins came into Friday having selected only one goalie -- Sweden's Philip Svedeback (fourth round, 2021) -- over the previous four drafts. In that time, Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar graduated from prospects to NHL players. Vladar was traded to the Calgary Flames last year.
So it made sense for the Bruins to improve their depth at goalie.
A rare QMJHL selection
The Bruins don't often draft players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
In fact, entering the 2022 draft, they hadn't selected a QMJHL player since Cedric Pare in the sixth round in 2017. Pare, who played for the Saint John Sea Dogs, never appeared in a game for the Bruins.
The QMJHL drought was ended Friday when the B's picked left-shot defenseman Frederic Brunet from Rimouski Oceanic with the No. 132 overall selection (fifth round). Like many defensemen in the QMJHL, Brunet is a gifted offensive player and a quality skater. He tallied 12 goals and 34 assists in 63 games for Rimouski last season.
Brunet can run the PP through the point, first-pass out of the zone with the best of them or carry the puck on his stick. Solid skater and makes up for his shortcomings with his poise, natural talent with the puck. Definitely got good value here. 12G-34A-46PTS in 63GP (QMJHL).
— Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) July 8, 2022
Brunet also told reporters that his offseason workout partner in Quebec City is actually Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, so the team can be confident he's getting the proper teaching.
Atlantic Division got even better
The league's best division last season was the Atlantic. Four of the top 10 teams in the overall standings were in the Atlantic, including the Presidents' Trophy-winning Florida Panthers. The other three teams in the top 10 were the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Bruins.
This division improved even more Thursday night when several of the non-playoff teams added key pieces to their roster.
The Montreal Canadiens took Slovakian left winger Juraj Slafkovsky with the No. 1 overall pick. He has the size, skating and elite offensive skill to be a fantastic top-six forward for many years. The Canadiens took another Slovakian winger, Filip Mesar, at No. 27 overall in the first round. Mesar has impressive speed and playmaking ability. It was a phenomenal Round 1 for Montreal as it looks to quickly bounce back after a horrendous 2021-22 campaign.
The Ottawa Senators have missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons, but those painful times could be coming to an end soon. The Senators have been stockpiling a phenomenal group of talented young players over the last couple years, and they added another Thursday by trading the No. 7 pick, No. 39 pick and a 2024 third-rounder to the Chicago Blackhawks for winger Alex DeBrincat. DeBrincat is coming off his second 41-goal season at just 24 years old. The Senators are a good bet to be among the most-improved teams next season.
The Detroit Red Wings traded for Blues goalie Ville Husso. He gives the Red Wings a legit No. 1 netminder after posting a 25-7-6 record, a .919 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA in St. Louis last season.
These improvements made by the Canadiens, Senators and Red Wings will make the Bruins' challenge of reaching the playoffs even tougher next season, especially early on when Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy are out of the lineup as they recover from offseason surgeries.