The great Kirk Luedeke of Red Line Report was kind enough to join me for our annual pre-draft podcast. Kirk is an expert on NHL prospects and the draft in general, so his insight is always extremely valuable as we look ahead to the draft.
Listen above for the entire conversation. Following are notes as we reviewed some of the players Boston took in last season’s draft. Check back soon for a post detailing his thoughts on players who might be fits for Boston come Friday.
– Brandon Carlo is indeed the closest of Boston’s three top-60 pick defensemen to reaching the NHL, but Luedeke notes that much of that is based on age. Luedeke doesn’t expect him to make the Bruins out of camp, but that’s “not the end of the world for him” because he has AHL eligibility.
– Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon are “a little further away” and have to go back to their junior teams if they don’t make the Bruins.
Luedeke notes that Zboril, whom the Bruins chose with the 14th overall pick last June, took a step back offensively. Issues that Luedeke had prior to the draft about Zboril’s motor have not gone away, and thus Luedeke considers next season something of a critical year for the player’s development. He notes that the Bruins have emphasized with the player that he can’t puck watch as much as he has in the past.
“There are too many nights where he’s just kind of passive and unengaged and he’ll go long stretches where he’s not really doing much and you have to really look for him. With a player who has that much talent, that’s kind of an issue.”
Added Luedeke: “When he’s playing physical and he is engaged, he is a snarly, surly, atypical European defenseman in that he will lower the boom on people. I’ve seen him fight guys and do very well because they kind of grab the tiger by the tail. He has that big, booming shot and he is capable of delivering that on-target lead pass and distributing the puck on the man advantage. All the things that you like in a defensemen — good in puck retrieval. It’s just that he hasn’t put it together. This is going to be a huge year for him.”
– Lauzon is Luedeke’s favorite of the three defensemen.
“He’s just a solid blend of the three. Not as big as shutdown as Carlo, but solid defensively, good positionally. Not as offensively gifted as Zboril when Zboril’s on top of his game, but still has a real good shot, good vision, can really move the puck. His skating’s fine — probably could stand to improve his pivots and directional change, but it’s coachable stuff. It’s not a major glaring weakness, and that’s really the thing with Lauzon: there are no glaring weaknesses in his game. … I think when you look at what makes a successful pro in this day and age, Lauzon has all those attributes.”
– Luedeke was satisfied with both Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn this season. He notes that though Senyshyn scored 45 goals in the OHL this season, the player’s 200-foot game still needs improvement before he can be considered close to a full-time NHLer. Luedeke feels Senyshyn has a small chance of a nine-game trial to begin the NHL season, but that he’ll be better served to mature with another season in the OHL.
DeBrusk, who could be sent to the AHL if the Bruins chose, impressed Luedeke with his work around the net. Luedeke notes that he’s far from a flashy player, but that he’ll be a productive one.
“He’s not flashy in the way he goes about it, and I think that’s the knock on DeBrusk. There’s this tendency for fans to want to be entertained. They want players to bring them out of their seats and be flashy and electric. I get that, and Kyle Connor was certainly that kind of forward for the University of Michigan this year. I get that it just fueled the debate of ‘Why did the Bruins take DeBrusk?’ but DeBrusk is one of those guys where he’s just kind of there and then all of a sudden he’s jumping on a puck and burying it, or he’s pulling a couple D to him and then sliding a perfect sauce pass to a wide-open teammate for a back-door tap-in. You can’t put a price tag on that. That’s just natural offense and he’s got it.
“If you’re looking to be dazzled every time DeBrusk is on the ice, you’re going to be a little disappointed. If you peel back the onion and you look closer at what he does and how he’s quietly effective — he’ll put that little burst on the puck and beat the defender in a footrace and then get the puck to the net and either score it himself or set it up for a goal by a teammate, he’s doing all the things you look for.
“I really like Jake DeBrusk. I continue to like him. I think he got a raw deal just in terms of how he was perceived because the Bruins didn’t take other people, but he couldn’t control that.”