Connect with us

Bruins Prospects

Bruins Draft Grades: Maximizing Picks With Big Bodies And Big Potential

Published

on

boston-bruins-nhl-draft
Andrew Fantucchio

LAS VEGAS– After two days inside the Las Vegas Sphere, the 2024 NHL Draft has come to a close, and the Boston Bruins have added four new players to their organization.

Having a limited amount of picks, it was important for the Bruins to hit on each selection they made, especially since they already had a shallow prospect pool to begin with.

So how did Boston fair in this year’s draft? Meet the newest Bruins prospects.

Round 1, Pick 25: Dean Letourneau – Center, St. Andrew’s College

It was anyone’s guess what the Bruins would do with the 25th overall pick, given that they acquired it only four days before the start of the draft and general manager Don Sweeney said they were keeping their options open and had opportunities to trade the pick throughout Round 1. Ultimately, the Bruins felt the chance to select Dean Letourneau was too good of an opportunity to pass up, as they made a selection in the first round of the draft for the first time since 2o21.

The 23rd-ranked North American skater in this year’s class by NHL Central Scouting, Letourneau comes with a high ceiling and plenty of raw talent. A massive six-foot-seven, he possesses a much more skilled pair of hands and is quicker on his feet than others his size.

“What stood out is obviously his frame and his skill set,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney following Round 1 on Friday night. “Not so much just the positional side of things, but he moves really well. He has very good hands and a very deep shot.”

The main drawback for the 18-year-old is the unconventional development path he’s taken to this point. Rather than playing in a major junior league like many elite Canadian prospects, Letourneau most recently played at St. Andrew’s College, a preparatory high school. He still recorded 61 goals and 66 assists in 56 games this past season, but it’ll be important to keep an eye on his production as he starts to face tougher competition. The Bruins will watch Letourneau’s development closely while he attends Boston College starting this fall. There, he’ll have to learn how to make his size a bigger part of his game.

One thing Letourneau is not short on, though, is determination. He may not help the Bruins Stanley Cup odds this season, but he’s dead set on doing so as soon as possible.

Round 4, Pick 110: Elliott Groenewold – Defense, USHL Cedar Rapids

The Bruins got aggressive in the fourth round, trading Jakub Lauko and the 122nd pick to the Minnesota Wild for Vinni Lettieri and the 110th pick. After jumping up 12 spots, the Bruins took defenseman Elliott Groenewold from the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders of the USHL.

Groenewold, 18, appeared in 57 games for Cedar Rapids this past season, scoring five goals and 11 assists for 16 points. The hard-nosed, six-foot-two defender was the 82nd-ranked prospect in this year’s class, according to Elite Prospects. The Bruins, who perhaps weren’t willing to wait and see if he fell to them at their original pick, got a steal by selecting him at 110 overall.

“I was certainly happy that we improved our pick, and I do think it probably helped us get him,” said Bruins director of amateur scouting Ryan Nadeau. “I don’t know what happens if he is there at 122. But it was a player that certainly we wanted to come out of the draft with.”

A native of Springfield, Vermont, Groenewold grew up a Bruins fan and likened his play to that of Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm. Groenewold will play for Quinnipiac University starting this fall, where he plans to focus on improving his puck handling and developing the offensive aspect of his game.

Round 5, Pick 156: Jonathan Morello – Center, OJHL St. Michael’s

At only 17 years old, Jonathan Morello is the youngest of the four players the Bruins selected this year. Still, already at six-foot-two and 187 pounds, Morello doesn’t believe he is fully grown and still plans to put on more weight.

“It feels like every time we meet him, he’s taller and bigger,” Nadeau said. “We’re just banking on the upward trajectory.”

The center will play for Debuqe of the USHL this season before joining Clarkson University in 2025. Playing for the St. Michael’s Buzzards last season, Morello put up 25 goals and 32 assists for 57 points.

The 98th-ranked skater by NHL Central Scouting, Morello described himself as a two-way center who has some aspects of a power forward to his game and said he takes after newly crowned Hart Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon.

Round 6, Pick 186: Loke Johansson – Defense, HockeyAllvenskan AIK

For their final pick of the 2024 NHL Draft, the Bruins selected Swedish defenseman Loke Johansson. Sticking with the theme the Bruins established with their previous three picks, Johansson is another big-body, standing at six-foot-three and 201 pounds.

“We like his physicality, and he closes down space pretty well,” Nadeau said. “We really appreciate the kind of hardness he brings as a defender

Johansson, 18, was ranked 52nd among European skaters. He spent the majority of the 2023-24 season playing for AIK J20 in Stockholm, recording five goals with eight assists for 13 points in 33 games. Johansson also played in 19 games for AIK itself, tallying one assist.

As is the case with Groenewold, Johansson will need to improve his play with the puck as he progresses toward the NHL.

“The puck play is going to need to improve, but that’s going to come with just more reps,” said Nadeau. “At times, he tends to overcomplicate it, but that’s most young defenseman at pretty much any level. We like that he wants to impact and try and make plays. Again, we’re betting on the defending art. He does have some ability to handle pucks. It’s just that it’s going to have to
continue to improve.”

Final Thoughts:

With no room to waste any of their picks, the Bruins’ strategy in this draft seemed to focus on players who possess raw talent and ways to go in their development.

Of course, we won’t know if that was a sound strategy for a number of years. But for now, consider this draft an example of the Bruins accomplishing a lot with very little.

FOLLOW ANDREW FANTUCCHIO ON 𝕏: @A_FANTUCCHIO

FOLLOW BOSTON HOCKEY NOW ON 𝕏 AND FACEBOOK

Copyright ©2023 National Hockey Now and Boston Hockey Now. Not affiliated with the Boston Bruins or the NHL.