It was clear the Bruins scouting department was in the midst of some changes when Boston drafted a handful of players out of the Swedish Leagues during their 2013 Draft, and then subsequently relieved Wayne Smith of his duties as scouting director within the same week.
The B’s announced a few more changes this week as they named Keith Gretzky as the new director of amateur scouting, and named P.J. Axelsson and Keith Sullivan as amateur scouts.
Gretzky was hired by the Bruins as an amateur scout in 2011, and was formerly the director of amateur scouting for the Phoenix Coyotes before joining Boston. It had been expected that he would be named director of amateur scouting.
The Bruins made the move ostensibly to cast a wider net to snare amateur hockey prospects from around the world rather than focusing largely on the OHL,
It’s also clear Boston has struggled to produce NHL talent in the last six years of the draft. Only Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton have turned into everyday NHL players, and first-round picks like Zach Hamill, Joe Colborne and Jordan Caron have failed to establish themselves in the league.
Boston’s scouting department has done a good job of identifying college talent like Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug as trade/undrafted free agent acquisitions over that same period of time. In the 2007-2011 drafts only Lane MacDermid, Colborne and Caron are currently pushing for regular NHL gigs, and the Bruins have failed to draft any “diamond in the rough” type players in the later rounds.
Gretzky played a prominent role in Phoenix drafting standout Swedish defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and has proven equally adept at unearthing scouts in the OHL as well as in the European leagues. According to the B’s press release, Gretzky will oversee the efforts of the team’s amateur scouting staff in addition to scouting those North American and European players eligible for the annual NHL entry draft.
In his hockey career, Gretzky spent five seasons in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the third round (56th overall) of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft.
The former centerman played in various North American and European minor leagues from 1982-1993 before embarking on a head coaching career in the West Coast Hockey League and United Hockey League from 1995-2000. He is the brother of NHL Hall of Famer, Wayne Gretzky.
Axelsson joins the Bruins as an amateur scout after spending 11 memorable seasons (1997-2009) wearing the Spoked-B. The former Bruins forward skated in 797 career NHL games, and produced 103 goals and 184 assists for 287 points.
Following his time with the Bruins, Axelsson played for Frolunda HC in the Swedish Elite League from 2010-2013 before announcing his retirement from pro hockey on April 10. Born in Kungalv, Sweden, Axelsson will be based out of Sweden and responsible for scouting European Amateur Prospects.
Sullivan joins the Bruins as an Amateur Scout after spending four seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes (2007-2011) and one year with the Winnipeg Jets (2011-12). In 2012-13, Sullivan served as the General Manager for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League. He will be based out of Omaha, NE.