Bruins draft Swedish players and local prospects

Bruins draft Swedish players and local prospects
June 30, 2013, 11:30 pm
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NEWARK – The Bruins didn’t select a player until the end of the second round with the 60th overall pick, but still felt pretty good about their class of players from the 2013 NHL Draft class.

The B’s first selection was Linus Arnesson out of the Swedish League, an 18-year-old 6-foot-2, 187-pound defenseman that’s considered a good-skating, stay-at-home type in the mold of a Dennis Seidenberg. Arnesson put up an assist in 31 games for Djugarden last season and isn’t expected to hold much more than average offensive pop, but was a player the Bruins felt good about at the end of the second round.

“We were really excited to get Arnesson. Anytime you can get an underage player that played in the world junior tournament, you’ve got to be excited about that,” said Boston Director of amateur scouting Wayne Smith. “He’s a good, steady defenseman that takes away ice and is very difficult to beat one-on-one. He’s responsible and sticks up for his teammates. He plays a good puck-moving game, and has good size to go with it.”

In the third round the Bruins selected Peter Cehlarik, a 6-foot-2, 192-pound forward out Lulea in the Swedish junior league and originally a native of Slovakia. The 17-year-old finished with 17 goals and 37 points in 38 games and really flourished with a strong finish that put him fully on Boston’s radar. The names Michael Handzus and Anze Kopitar were both used as comparables to Cehlarik, and that is some pretty good company.

“He’s smart, skilled and well-sized young Slovak guy that has played two years in Sweden,” said Bruins European scout Jukka Holtari. “He’s a little bit of a secret player early in the season, but late in the season he played very well for the Slovaks at the world championships. He was no more of a secret player then. His style of play reminds a little of Kopitar, but Kopitar was a little ahead of him at the same age.”

In the fourth round the Bruins selected Malden Catholic alum Ryan Fitzgerald, who comes from great Boston hockey bloodlines as the son of former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald and nephew of B’s assistant director of scouting Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is committed to Boston College next season, and has a bright future ahead of him in the Hub of hockey.

“He’s a really smart hockey player. He plays hard and he competes hard. He’ll fit right into our culture,” said Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning. “With his competitiveness, I think he’s going to be a really good player for us.”

In the fifth round the Bruins went local again and selected 6-foot-6 defenseman Wiley Sherman from the Hotchkiss School, who put up 4 goals and 10 points in 26 games for the Connecticut Prep School. Bruins scouts indicated that Sherman was a raw project, but will have plenty to time to develop as he readies for the Harvard University hockey team in a couple of years.

“He’s a raw player right now, but he’s a good skater that can make the good first pass,” said Benning. “We hope he develops into a good stay-at-home defenseman that can make the good first pass, and play physical. If he hits his high side, we hope he can play a Hal Gill-style game.”

In the sixth round the Bruins encountered some computer issues as they tried to enter their selection into the NHL computer system, but finally chose Swedish hockey prospect Anton Blidh. The 18-year-old native of Molnlycke, Sweden screams out scrappy grinder with 17 goals and 17 points along with 80 penalty minutes in 43 games, and was spotted via his twitter account with pictures of him wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball hat.

The scouts say he’s a Bruins-style player.

“He plays a Bruins style of game,” said Smith. “He’s a hard-nosed kid.”

Peter Chiarelli actually mistakenly announced the player Boston planned on taking in the seventh round when the computer issues cropped up one round before, but the player was still there in the form of Mitchell Dempsey with the 210th selection overall. Dempsey only managed one goal and five points in 36 games for Sault Ste Marie in the OHL as an 18-year-old, but battled through injuries and a case of pneumonia during a particularly trying draft year.

“He had some injury problems with a high ankle sprain and pneumonia, but we were very familiar with him. We took a chance that he’ll have a comeback season this year. Having seen him play at the midget level when he was younger, we’re really excited about the possibilities. He’s a big, strong kid.”

It was interesting to note that the Bruins didn’t take a Canadian prospect until their final selection in the draft. Otherwise it was all Swedish League players and New England hockey prospects for the Bruins without their first round selection lost in the Jaromir Jagr deal.