There is an important event coming up for the Boston Bruins which will be hosted at TD Garden. Boston will be battling for the Stanley Cup championship against the St. Louis Blues in a Game 7 on Wednesday. The Blues clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday May 21st after a 5-1 victory on home ice against the opposing San Jose Sharks. The NHL Draft is only thirty days away and it’s approaching very quickly.
The draft is very important for every NHL team because it can change a franchise for years to come with the future of the game in their hands. Most teams like to keep their first-round pick because you can find an elite player later on in the round, even if it’s not necessarily a top 10 pick. For example, Boston drafted David Pastrnak 25th overall back in 2014 and he’s arguably the best player out of that draft so far to date.
Without further ado, here is my list of players the Bruins should target in the upcoming NHL Draft.
Samuel Poulin, LW, QMJHL
Samuel Poulin was drafted second overall by the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the 2017 QMJHL Draft. During the 2017-18 season, as a rookie, Poulin picked up 16 goals, 29 assists, making for a total of 45 points. After putting up decent numbers in his QMJHL rookie season, Poulin would go on to lead his team during the 2018-19 season.
The 18-year-old left-winger notched 29 goals and 47 assists, making for 76 points registered in a total of 67 games played. Samuel Poulin is a power forward that can score a lot of goals. He has an NHL shot and he also has quick hands to deke by opponents. Poulin is hard to play against because of his size as well as his skill.
“Samuel Poulin is a junior player in an adult body. He is physically strong, plays a mature game and has a good work ethic.”- Benoit Belanger, mckeenshockey.com
It seems like Poulin can do it all, which is almost true, besides one thing. His skating needs improvement. He has all the skills besides speed. The NHL has changed into a fast-paced league and NHL teams may pass on drafting a player if he’s a slow skater.
Becoming a faster skater is definitely not easy, especially being a power forward. His hockey sense is A+. He is a low-risk, high-reward type player. Poulin is a leader for Sherbrooke and he will do anything possible if it means becoming a better player. The Laval, Quebec native is projected to go late first-round in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver.
Tobias Björnfot, D, SHL
Tobias Björnfot is one of the best defenseman in this draft. He is a two-way defensemen that has great skating ability all around. Björnfot played 39 games for Djurgårdens IF J20 in the SuperElit league during the 2018-19 season, notching 11 goals and 11 assists, making for a total of 22 points.
That’s pretty impressive, but you have to remember that he put up those number in a junior league back home in Sweden. Björnfot would then go on to play seven regular season games in the SHL, getting his first opportunity at the professional men’s game in Sweden’s capital city of Stockholm. During those games, he did not pick up a point, meanwhile, he also played in four SHL playoff games as well.
During that time, he did not any points to his resume. Even though playing seven regular season games in a professional league is just a small sample size, Björnfot is definitely ready to take the next step over in North America.
“After a regular season that saw him produce 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 42 games for Djugardens in the SuperElit he joined Sweden for the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship and did not look out of place, despite being a year younger than most of the competition.” – Derek Neumeier, Future Considerations
“Björnfot played the most minutes for Sweden, being leaned on in all situations, especially once they had injury issues. He’s not a highlight reel kind of player, but he skates very well, is smart and plays hard. He may have been the toughest defender to beat in the event with how well he closes gaps and maintains a good position on checks.” – Corey Pronman, The Athletic
Björnfot has elite hockey IQ and he can shoot the puck very well. Björnfot has also shown that he can be a leader. He has been the captain for Team Sweden during international events. Björnfot needs to work on a couple of things though, which include his strength as well as his positioning.
Just like every player, there is always room for improvement. Björnfot was playing solid defense in the SuperElit league and during the international tournament. In the SHL, things were a little different. He wasn’t the strongest guy on the ice in the SuperElit league, so going up to the SHL against experienced men was a challenge defensively.
Björnfot was out of position a lot of times and he was having trouble defending opponents that are much older than him. Besides those weaknesses, Björnfot is a very good hockey player and I could see him becoming a second-pairing defensemen at the National Hockey League level in the future. Björnfot is projected to go late-first round in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Raphaël Lavoie, C/LW, QMJHL
Raphaël Lavoie is an interesting prospect heading into the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Lavoie plays for the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL. During his 2017-18 rookie season with the organization, he struggled, putting up just nine points registered in 32 games.
That isn’t very good, especially being one of the oldest players heading into the draft. During the 2018-19 season, Lavoie let it rip and unleashed, picking up 32 goals and 41 assists, making for a total of 73 points. Lavoie is a very strong skater and he considers himself a power forward that can shoot the puck extremely well.
Lavoie, who is compacted of size, speed, power and skill, has good offensive IQ and can also pass the puck very well. The Montreal, Quebec native can also play very well on the wing, which is where he will most likely find himself when he is ready for the NHL.
“Lavoie has shown his ability to bully his way to offence and play a strong offensive game.” – Chris Peters, ESPN
Lavoie has many strengths, but he also has many weaknesses. Lavoie is one of the oldest players heading into the draft which is rather alarming. It is alarming because he is playing against younger opponents which usually is a lot easier.
Lavoie dominated the QMJHL regular season and playoffs with highlight reel goals. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very skilled player, but I know that some scouts don’t have him ranked as high as other players because of his age. It’s not only because of his age, it’s also because he has trouble leading the rush and setting a play up.
In other words, Lavoie needs his line-mates to set him up in order for him to be successful in scoring goals. With this in mind, Lavoie needs extra support from his line-mates when it comes to picking up points. This is definitely something Lavoie can work on, but until he fixes it, many scouts will consider him a boom or bust prospect. Lavoie is projected to go late first-round in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Jakob Pelletier, LW, QMJHL
Jakob Pelletier was drafted third overall in the 2017 QMJHL Draft by the Moncton Wildcats. During his 2017-18 QMJHL rookie season, Pelletier picked up 23 goals and 38 assists, making for a total of 61 points. Pelletier had a very solid junior rookie season, followed by an impressive 2018-19 season where he scored 39 goals and 50 assists, making for a total of 89 points.
Pelletier has great offensive IQ and very good skating ability as well. As much as Pelletier contributes offensively, he is also a very good defensive player. He always helps his teammates out on defence and will do anything in order to win.
“Scouts always ask themselves: does this player drive the play? With Pelletier, the answer is always a resounding yes. His hockey IQ is way too high to ignore. He makes those around him better and competes like a champ.” – Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet
Pelletier is very good in almost every category, but he does have some weaknesses. Pelletier needs to shoot the puck more. He is always looking to set up his teammates, even when he has an open shooting lane.
Pelletier also needs to get stronger on the puck. He has some work to do before reaching the NHL, but he will be a very good player once the time comes.
If Boston can get one of these players in the upcoming 2019 NHL Entry Draft, it will be well worth it. These players definitely have the potential to become top-6 forwards in the NHL.