“The Bruins are Ruined!”

Each year, all NHL teams are given seven draft picks, roughly in the reverse order of how they finished in the standings. Teams are free to trade those picks for other picks or for players. In a normal year, if you can get an NHL contributing player out of your first two rounds, you’ve done pretty ok for the team. Definitely not something that I’d consider a failure.

From the 2015 draft, the Bruins did exactly that, and more. They got at least two contributing NHL players from the first two rounds, Jake DeBrusk and Brandon Carlo. Jakub Zboril can also even be considered a bonus. However, some segment of the Bruins fan population like to claim that the franchise was ruined, destroyed, by that draft.

The Bruins franchise was NOT destroyed by that draft. Teams whiff on draft picks every year. There is no single draft that destroys a team. However, the Bruins could have done much, much better at the draft. There is no question about that. There were much better players available than they took. But being able to do better and destroying the team are two vastly different things. I do think that if they drafted better, the Bruins would be better. But again, that is totally different than “ruined the team.”

In 2015, the Bruins whiffed, and whiffed badly. Their picks of Zboril, DeBrusk and Senyshyn were not the best players available at the 13, 14, and 15 draft slots. This is not an apology for the Bruins draft that year (it was terrible!) but more of an explanation that yeah, teams miss. So let’s try this. With the 100% benefit of hindsight, let’s redo the 2015 draft and see who each team would end up with.

In past articles, I’ve explained the system I’m using based off the Point Shares metric from Hockey Reference. If we’re going to use the narrative that the Bruins should have been perfect and nailed all three of those picks in 2015, then let’s be consistent and use the narrative that every team nailed their picks too. So either “stuff happens” and teams miss on picks (as the Bruins did) or “everyone should be perfect” and we’ll see what the first round of the 2015 draft looks like, if every team took the Best Player Available.

Redrafting 2015
Redoing the 2015 NHL Draft

There we have it. The Bruins should have ended up with Timo Meier, Thomas Chabot and Vince Dunn. No question, that’s still far better than what they ended up with, but all the clamor that they should have Barzal or Connor or Boeser doesn’t hold water. We can’t expect the Bruins to be perfect and not expect that everywhere else.

Some of the other interesting spots, DeBrusk isn’t even the highest ranking Bruin. Brandon Carlo was one spot after the Bruins selected, going to Winnipeg. And DeBrusk, rated as the 19th best North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting rankings is the 19th best player from the 2015 draft, just five spots lower than he was actually selected.

We see that McDavid and Marner were selected right where they’ve turned out. But imagining Carolina with Mikko Rantanen instead of Sebastian Aho. Imagine Kyle Connor on Broad Street with the Flyers. Noah Hanifin going to Colorado, instead of Rantanen. The emerging Mangiapane in Anaheim. And imagine Roope Hintz in Montreal instead of in Dallas.It’s a fun exercise and sure, yell and scream for Don Sweeney to be fired. But to claim that the team was ruined by this one draft is just nonsense. If someone wanted to make the argument that the Bruins have been more harmed by the four years of 2017 to 2020 first round draft picks being:

  • 2017: Urho Vaakanainen
  • 2018: No pick
  • 2019: John Beecher
  • 2020: No pick

then that could hold more weight. The team is still waiting on Urho to develop into an NHL player, Beecher is still in college and when you give up your first round pick, you’re hampering the team’s ability to add young, cheap talent later.

The Boston Bruins are far more hampered by these four draft years than it is from the result of the 2015 draft.