PHILADELPHIA – The Bruins planned to stockpile skilled players in the 2014 NHL Draft and started off well by selecting David Pastrnak with their first-round pick on Friday night. They tapped three more forwards, along with a Swedish defenseman, with their four picks in the second day of the draft on Saturday.
“Our theme today, as you could see with all the teams, was skill early,” said Bruins amateur scouting director Keith Gretzky, who was instructed by general manager Peter Chiarelli to zero in on a little more offensive skill. “We jumped on some good offensive players that we’re excited to have. Everybody wanted skill, and you could see that was really going in the early rounds. The plumbers didn’t come until a little later in the draft.
“We were really excited to get [Ryan] Donato and [Danton] Heinen – two really skilled players – where we got them.”
First in the second round (56th overall), the Bruins drafted a familiar name in Ryan Donato, of Scituate, Mass., and son of former Bruins forward Ted Donato. The skilled center has impressed at the Dexter School playing for his uncle, and really caught the attention of Peter Chiarelli and the B's Gretzky when he showed up to the NHL combine in fantastic condition.
“We were happy to get Donato there. I’ve watched him for many years, and we really like him,” said Chiarelli. “He’s got a tremendous skill set and bloodlines, and he’s got to work on his skating and his strength.
“From the time when he finished playing prep school until we interviewed him, he really dialed in on his conditioning, and his diet. He’s really toned up, and he needs that. He needs to keep doing that, so we were really impressed when we saw that.”
The skill has never been in doubt.
In 2013-14, Donato skated for the Cape Cod Whalers U18 team, where he notched eight goals and nine assists for 17 points and racked up 33 penalty minutes in nine games. In that same year, the forward played his junior season for the Dexter School in Massachusetts and became the leading scorer in prep school hockey. He notched 37 goals and 41 assists for 78 points in 30 games.
Donato was the Dexter’s leading scorer in his sophomore season (2012-13) with 29 goals along with 31 assists for 60 points in 28 games. The forward is also a part of the USA Hockey’s Development Camp Program. The 6’0”, 176-pound forward played his freshman season at Dexter in 2011-12 where he scored 14 goals and tallied 22 assists in 26 games played.
Donato is deciding between the Dexter School and the Omaha Lancers of the USHL next year and is committed to playing for his dad at Harvard for the 2015-16 season. All of that stuff will come with him, but Saturday was simply about being pumped to realize his dream with the hometown Bruins.
“I follow the team religiously — just being in Boston, it’s such a big part of Boston. I couldn’t be happier going to this team — just being around the guys, growing up with all the Bruins players in the house, being friends with all the Bruins players,” said Donato. “There really are no words to describe it right now. I think [Ted] was nervous just the whole time. I think he was more nervous than I was the whole week, just because of the whole process, but I think he was happy.”
In the fourth round (116th overall), the Bruins selected forward Heinen of the Surrey Eagles (BCHL). As captain for the Eagles, the 6’0”, 170- pound forward racked up 29 goals (first on the team) and 32 assists (third on the team) for 61 points (first on the team).
In the playoffs, Heinen scored two goals and tallied two assists for seven points in six games. In 2012-13, the native of Langley, British Columbia, skated in 43 games for the Richmond Sockeyes (PIJHL), where he totaled 21 goals (third on the team) and 28 assists (second on the team) for 49 points (third on the team).
Throughout the playoffs, the forward played in six games where he notched two goals and five assists for seven points. For the 2011-12 season, the 18-year-old skated for the Valley West Hawks (BCMML), where he notched 19 goals (third on the team) and 24 assists (fourth on the team) for 43 points (third on the team).
Heinen is committed to attend the University of Denver in the fall, and is already taking classes in Denver this summer.
“He’s an offensive player…a high skill player,” said Gretzky. “He’s got to get stronger, and that’s the one concern about him. It’s the big concern about a lot of these kids.”
In the fifth round with the 146th overall pick, the Bruins selected forward Anders Bjork from the USHL’s National Team Development Program. In the 2013-14 season, the 6-0, 183-pound forward skated with the United States National Team Development Program Juniors team (USHL), where he netted nine goals and accrued 12 assists for 21 points in 26 games. Bjork also skated for the U.S. National U18 team (USDP) where he racked up 21 goals (fifth on the team) and 21 assists for 42 points in 61 games.
At the World Junior Championship (U18), the forward skated in seven games where he notched two goals. In his time with the USHL’s National Team development Program in 2012-13 (USNTDP Juniors, U.S. National U17 Team, WHC-17), the native of Mequon, Wisc., skated in 100 games and totaled 20 goals and 20 assists.
Bjork is committed to attend Uotre Dame in the fall, and will follow in the footsteps of his dad and cousin (Erik Condra) playing hockey for the Fighting Irish.
In the seventh round (206th overall), the Bruins selected Swedish defenseman Emil Johansson of the Swedish SuperElite League. In the 2013-14 season, the 6’0”, 194-pound D-man skated for the HV71 J18 team (J18 Elite and J18 Allsvenskan), as well as the HV71 J20 team (SuperElite).
Johansson appeared in 48 games and notched four goals and 10 assists for 14 points and 48 penalty minutes. Johansson also played for the Sweden U18 team (International-Jr.), where he tallied one goal and one assist in 13 games played. In 2012-13, Johansson skated in 38 total games where he accrued six goals and tallied 14 assists for 20 points. He also played for the Sweden U17 team (WHC-17 and International-Jr.) where he totaled two goals and five assists for seven points in 23 games played.
“This is a kid that all of our European scouts really liked,” said Gretzky. “He’s a good-skating D-man that moves the puck really well. He didn’t play in April because he had a broken hand, but he’s almost ready to be cleared to start working out.”