Jakub Zboril was Boston’s first pick on Friday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SUNRISE, Fla. — With the first of three consecutive picks, the Bruins selected Saint John (QMJHL) defenseman Jakub Zboril 13th overall. The B’s then went with Swift Current (WHL) left wing Jake DeBrusk with the 14th pick and right wing Zachary Senyshyn of Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) 15th overall.
The selections add a prospect to a blue line that was weakened by the trade hours earlier and gives the Bruins a chance to groom a legitimate top-six winger for the first time since 2006 third-round pick Brad Marchand. They do not make the Bruins better in the short term, as none are expected to be NHL players next season.
Zboril is a well-rounded left-shot defenseman who stands at 6-foot-0 3/4 and 184 pounds. The Czech blueliner was considered the fourth-best defenseman in this year’s draft class behind Noah Hanifin (Hurricanes), Ivan Provorov (Flyers) and Zach Werenski (Blue Jackets), all of whom were selected in the first eight picks.
Don Sweeney said after the first round that he pushed hard to trade up to get one of the top three defensemen, but that the asking prices for higher picks were so high that they opted to wait for the 13th pick and take Zboril.
Zboril eventually will be part of a rapidly changing Bruins blue line. The Bruins lost both Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton to trades over the last calendar year and expect bigger contributions from the likes of Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow in the coming seasons.
The 5-foot-11 3/4, 174-pound DeBrusk was the 19th-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. The Edmonton native scored 42 goals last season for the Broncos, adding 39 assists for 81 points in 72 games. He is the son of former NHL player Louie DeBrusk.
Upon meeting with the media following his selection, DeBrusk — who at the very least is an extremely articulate kid — shared his family connection to the Bruins.
“Claude Julien actually coached my dad,” DeBrusk said.
Indeed he did. Julien had Louie DeBrusk as a player in the 2001-02 season when Julien coached the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.
Julien might not still be in Boston by the time DeBrusk reaches the NHL, which could be a number of years. DeBrusk estimated that he is two or three years away from pushing for an NHL job, but he hopes that comes sooner. The Bruins are very thin at left wing organizationally following Friday evening’s trade of Milan Lucic.
In taking the three players, the Bruins passed on highly rated American left wing Kyle Connor, who was not expected to be available when they picked. The selection of Senyshyn is the most eyebrow-raising in that respect, as Senyshyn was rated as the No. 38 North American skater by Central Scouting. TSN’s Craig Button had him rated as the 49th-best player in the draft.
Senyshyn did not expect to go in the first half of the first round. As such, he was pleased with how Friday night unfolded.
“[I’m] absolutely ecstatic,” Senyshyn said after being picked. “I think it was a surprise for me. I can’t believe it right now. I think [it’s] such an experience and such an honor, for sure.”
Sweeney insisted that the Bruins were especially diligent in their scouting of Senyshyn, and that though they considered moving back to select him, there were multiple teams they suspected would be interested in him if they moved down.
The Bruins did not need to trade Hamilton, so these picks — particularly that No. 15 pick from the Flames (Senyshyn) — will be watched closely over the years as Bruins fans try to gauge whether Friday was a success or a disaster.
“Exactly,” Senyshyn said when reminded that his selection might come with a little more pressure as a result of Friday’s move. “I love the pressure, though.”