Best: Looking back at the Bruins draft history, there are three drafts which stand out in terms of not only providing an influx of useful players but also some very high end talent. In the 2006 draft, the Bruins drafted Phil Kessel (1st round, 5th overall), Milan Lucic (2nd round, 50th overall) and Brad Marchand (3rd round 71st overall). While each player has his share of critics, they nonetheless have carved out solid careers up to this point.
Even without a second round pick, the 1980 draft ranks as the Bruins second best ever draft. With their first pick Boston drafted Barry Pederson, followed by Tom Fergus in the 3rd round and in the 4th round Steve Kasper culminated the troika of centers. In the 5th round the Bruins drafted Randy Hillier a steady and reliable defenseman. Other players who would appear in the NHL from the 1980 draft include goalie Mike Moffat (8th round) and defenseman Michael Thelvin (9th round). As a side note the Bruins would eventually trade Pederson to Vancouver for Cam Neely and a first round pick which turned out to be Glen Wesley. Not a bad return!
The best overall draft in Bruins history is 1979. Every player the Bruins selected would appear in at least 23 games at the NHL level. It begins with the 8th overall selection when Boston drafted Ray Bourque who would eventually be regarded as one of the best all round defensemen in the NHL history. Later in the 1st round with the 15th pick, Brad McCrimmon would become a Bruin. He would enjoy most of his success with the Flyers and Flames which included a Stanley Cup championship with Calgary and ranking 6 times in the top 5 plus/minus rankings for a season. Other solid selections from this draft included Keith Crowder (3rd round, 57th overall) who would score over 200 career goals with the Bruins and achieve three 30-goal seasons and Mike Krushelnski (6th round, 120th overall) who would have a long and productive career which included 3 Stanley Cup Championships while a member of the Oilers.
Worst: In the 2000 draft, the Bruins had two picks in each of the first three rounds. Certainly on paper, this would be a prospective draft quarry that many teams would envy. At the end of the day, Boston selected eight players who would eventually appear in an NHL game. Unfortunately, quantity does not equate to quality. The best of the group was Andy Hilbert who recorded 104 points in 307 games while playing for five teams. The other 7 players combined to registrar 29 points in 222 career games.
With the next pick…I came across four Boston drafts which resulted in the Bruins by-passing players who would be selected by another team with the very next pick and would prove to be clearly better than the player Boston drafted. The players by-passed represent a current NHLer entering his prime, a solid veteran with championship pedigree, a scoring winger who almost reached the 500 goal plateau and one of the best pure goals scorers in NHL history.
In 2007, the Bruins picked Zach Hamil with the 8th overall pick. With the next selection San Jose took Logan Couture. Hamil has 4 assists in 20 career games, while Couture is a veteran of 379 games and 287 points. Both players are entering what should be the prime of their careers. While Couture has established himself as one of the better all round forwards in the league Hamil appears to be running out of chances to make it in the NHL.
In the 2000 draft, the Bruins had two first round picks and selected Lars Jonsson (7th overall) and Martin Samuelsson (27th overall). Tampa selected Nikita Aleexev with the 8th pick who last played an NHL game in 2007, but with the 28th pick Philadelphia drafted Justin Williams who has won three Stanley Cups and was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 2013-14.
Gord Kluzak was an elite defense prospect when the Bruins selected him with the 1st overall pick in the 1982 draft. However, due to chronic knee injuries he would only play a few seasons in the league. With the second pick in the draft the Minnesota North Stars selected Brian Bellows who would go on to score 485 career goals.
Finally, there is the 1987 draft which turned out future NHLer’s stars like Pierre Turgeon and Brendan Shanahan and players like Andrew Cassels, Luke Richardson, Bryan Marchment and Stephane Quintal who would go on to have long successful careers. Just like the 2000 draft the Bruins had two first round picks. With the 3rd overall selection they picked Glen Wesley who was a solid if unspectacular defenseman playing close to 1500 NHL games. With the 14th pick the Bruins selected the aforementioned Quintal. The Quebec Nordiques followed the Quintal pick by selecting Joe Sakic who would go on to have a Hall of Fame career.
Late Round Bargain: For the Bruins best last round pick you have to go back to 1978 when the team selected Craig MacTavish in the 9th round with the 153rd overall pick. MacTavish laced up for more than 1000 NHL games, played on four Stanley Cup winners and on three occasions finished in the top ten in voting for the Selke Trophy. While known mostly for his strong defensive game, MacTavish reached the 20-goal plateau six times.
Shrewd Pick: In the 4th round of the 1980 draft, the Bruins selected Steve Kasper with the 81st overall pick. He appeared in 564 games with the Bruins registering 355 points including four 20-goal seasons. Known as one of the best defensive forwards during his career, Kasper was a perennial candidate for the league’s Selke Award winning it in 1981-82.
Eight years later, the Bruins once again had a 4th round selection 81st overall pick and drafted Joe Juneau who racked up close to 200 points in 161 games with Boston before continuing his career in Washington and later Buffalo and Phoenix.