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2019 NHL Draft: First Round Centers For The Bruins

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The Boston Bruins will select 30th overall tomorrow night in Vancouver at the annual NHL Draft. Unlike other leagues, a late first round pick likely won’t see the NHL for at least two seasons. The prospect Boston comes home with tomorrow very well could be a quality one, but he won’t be part of the equation in 2019-20.

That makes it easier for NHL teams to select the best player available. The Boston Bruins have both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci down the middle, but both players are over 30. It stands to reason that both players are entering the final five years of their respective NHL careers.

Center can be argued as the most important position when it comes to skaters. Experts will say you can never have enough of them. Could the Bruins add to their stable of centers tomorrow night at the NHL Draft  in Vancouver? If that is their plan, there should be some solid players left on the draft board.

Connor McMichael

Consistently mocked in the late first round of the NHL Draft, McMichael very well could be on the board when it is Boston’s turn. The skilled center plays his junior hockey with the powerhouse London Knights of the OHL. London has produced countless NHL’ers over the years under the watch of head coach Dale Hunter and his brother Mark. It’s a breeding ground for prospects and a place where countless skill players honed their craft before moving to the NHL.

McMichael has the ability to play both center and wing, with his speed and skill combination being his biggest asset. McMichael is more sniper than playmaker, evident by the fact he already hit the 30 goal mark before the month of February. He’s got great vision, is creative and often displays patience in the offensive zone.

McMichael does have flaws, most notably his two-way game and faceoff ability. He’ll need to work on those tools if he wants to be a top-six forward in the NHL.

Jakob Pelletier

At just 5’9″, Pelletier is often overlooked because of his lack of size. Forgetting about the QMJHL star because he is a smaller skater could be a mistake. Although he is small, Pelletier plays with a high-pace. His calling card is his speed and quickness, along with his competitiveness. Yes, he’s undersized, but Pelletier isn’t afraid to mix it up and be a pest. Sound familiar Bruin fans?

He registered 89 points (39g, 50a) in 2018-19 and was arguably the best player for the Moncton Wildcats. In addition to his offense, Pelletier is a player who projects as a 200-foot player. He could make the NHL in a variety of ways as a result, and that makes him even more valuable as a prospect.

He’ll need to work on his strength, but the tools are there with this player. Pelletier has real potential to be a steal late in the first round of the draft, perhaps someday emerging as a newer version of Brad Marchand. High-end skill combined with tenacity and bite on the forecheck. He could be a fan favorite in Boston.

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Nathan Legare

Another QMJHL product, Legare may be considered a reach late in the first round. He could be an option if Boston elects to move back five spots and collect more picks later on in the NHL Draft. Math loves Legare, who might be overlooked heading into tomorrow night’s event.

Legare is a physical center with goal-scoring ability, evident by his 45 goals in 2018-19 for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL. The Montreal native projects to be a goal scorer in the NHL, with a strong shot and knack for wrecking havoc in the high-traffic areas. He’s got good anticipation and is an underrated set-up.

Among his faults is Legare’s tendency to sacrifice defense for offense. He’s quick to get back on the attack even when things aren’t settled in his own zone. He’ll need to work on that to make it to the NHL. His skating isn’t a strength either, although scouts say that he has steadily improved in this area year-over-year.

Ryan Suzuki

The odds that Suzuki falls to 30 aren’t great, but he has continuously slid down the board of many scouts in recent weeks. In fact, some scouts we’ve talked to indicate that he will in fact fall into the second half of Friday night’s first round. That gives the Bruins a chance to snag the Barrie Colts star.

With 75 points (25 g, 50a) in 65 games this season, Suzuki didn’t exactly light up the best junior league in the world. He’s a smart and quick scorer however, who possesses a quick release and has a knack for finding the open space to fire off his shot. Suzuki is a quick thinker who processes the game at a high level. That’s allowed him to excel as a two-way player in the OHL. An argument can be made that he is the best two-way player of the bunch.

Suzuki isn’t just a five-on-five threat either. He’s handled large roles on both the powerplay and penalty kill with Barrie over the years. His issue, however, is his lack of physicality and unwillingness at times to go to the dirty areas. That won’t fly in an organization like Boston.

Suzuki is a strong prospect that should be a middle-six NHL center one day down that line. He’ll need at least one more junior season, likely two, and then a minor league stint to get that. He’s a project, but Suzuki could be a steal at pick 30.

Alex is a 2016 graduate of Springfield College who is currently a writer with Boston Hockey Now and The Oilers Rig. Outside of writing, you can find Alex in rinks around New England as the Play-by-Play voice of the USPHL’s Boston Junior Bruins. In addition, he does broadcasting work for Northeastern University, Holy Cross And UMass-Lowell. Reach him on Twitter: @Alex_Thomas14

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