BRIGHTON, MA — Could the Boston Bruins be waving goodbye to another 2015 first-round draft pick?
The Boston Bruins waived forwards Oskar Steen and Jesper Boqvist, as well as defenseman Jakub Zboril, for the purpose of assignment on Saturday.
An NHL executive source told Boston Hockey Now that he expected there will be interest to claim the 2015 first round pick by the Bruins, who is now 26, entering the final season of a two-year, $2.2 million ($1.1M AAV) contract.
“If he can stay healthy, he’s got an NHL roster spot, in my opinion,” the source said on Saturday afternoon. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if a team picked him up, even with the cap issues out there.”
In 2015, the Boston Bruins had the 13th, 14th, and 15th overall picks thanks to some draft day maneuvering on the NHL trade market by Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. As a result, the Bruins wound up with those three consecutive picks, and Sweeney, now infamously passed on the likes of Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Thomas Chabot, to name a few. Instead, Sweeney drafted defenseman Jakub Zboril 13th overall, and then wingers Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn at 14th and 15th overall.
Of those three first rounders, only Jake DeBrusk has found success at the NHL level and, in the last two seasons, taken his game to the next level. DeBrusk has 119 goals and 107 assists in 385 games. The 26-year-old is entering the final season of an two-year, $8 million contract and is primed to have a big free agent year.
In six pro seasons in the Boston Bruins organization, Senyshyn played in just 14 NHL games before eventually being traded (along with a 2022 fifth round pick) to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Josh Brown and a conditional seventh round pick.
Jakub Zboril has also struggled to gain traction in the NHL, battling numerous injuries, and entering this season, he clocks in at 76 NHL games. There was a strong feeling around the NHL when training camp began that this could be Zboril’s final crack at becoming a full-time NHL defenseman in the Bruins organization. That’s not so much about how he has played (1g, 15a) over those 76 games but more so, in the opinion of this puck scribe and numerous NHL scouts, but just pure bad luck.
That bad luck continued at the beginning of camp as Zboril suffered another injury that limited him to just two preseason games. That paved the way for recently acquired (from the Chicago Blackhawks in the Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno trade) defenseman Ian Mitchell to come in, and now likely have claimed the seventh defenseman slot on the 2023-24 roster after seizing the opportunity.
Following a scrimmage-filled practice Saturday morning that didn’t include Zboril, Steen, and Boqvist on Saturday, Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery was asked how hard it is to have to deliver potentially the bad news he did wind up giving after his daily media briefing.
“When you’re delivering news that you know isn’t what they’re hoping to hear, it doesn’t matter what your business or what the situation calls for, it’s hard. And today’s a hard day,” Montgomery replied. “It just is. Everybody’s aware, and everybody knows you gotta get down to a number at a certain point. That’s why I didn’t particularly love practice [today], but human nature comes into effect.”
So by Sunday, the Bruins may only have Jake DeBrusk left from that 2015 first round trio, or Zboril will be back with the Providence Bruins.