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The Boston Bruins, who had not had a first-round pick in the NHL Draft for the previous two years, have jumped up in the draft following their recent trade with the Ottawa Senators. In return for Joonas Korpisalo, Mark Kastelic, and the 25th pick in this weekend’s 2024 NHL Entry Draft, they sent former Vezina-winning goaltender Linus Ullmark to their divisional rival.

Considering the return Boston got, the first-round pick appears to be the most noteworthy and spectacular addition. The Bruins had three selections in the upcoming draft before the trade, the first coming in the fourth round. Given that some people believe this year’s draft class to be weaker than average, general manager (GM) Don Sweeney’s desire to select early in the first round makes sense.

Whoever they select most likely won’t be ready to play in the NHL for another year or two while they develop. The team’s final two first-round selections, Johnny Beecher (2019) and Fabian Lysell (2021), were made in the second half of the round. Lysell hasn’t made his NHL debut yet, but it’s vital to remember that he struggled with injuries last season. Beecher just made his NHL debut.

Who are some possible targets the Bruins might choose to pursue with the 25th pick? These are a few names that may still be on the board, though.

Emil Hemming
Emil Hemming could add some offensive excitement to the team’s prospect pool, which is something the Bruins desperately need. He is currently ranked sixth among European skaters by the NHL, and most draft projections place him somewhere in the 20s, so he could be a good option for Boston to add more scoring. He is currently a student in Finland.

At more than six feet tall, Hemming is a right wing. He played 40 games in the top league and 13 games for the U20 team while playing for TPS in the Liiga during the 2023–24 season. As a result, he has more experience playing against adults than players just out of juniors. In those 40 games, he scored seven goals and totaled eleven points, but it’s crucial to remember that he played against tougher opposition than some other prospects his age.

It has been reported that he already possesses a respectable two-way game and is adept at taking advantage of his size. His shot is his greatest quality. He needs to improve in both his consistency and defense, but if he’s still available at 25, Hemming has a lot going for him.

Solberg Stian
The Bruins do need to make some changes in the defense this offseason. Although acquiring a center is more crucial, they still need to replenish their defensive pipeline because Mason Lohrei will likely be joining the NHL full-time next season. Any prospect they select in this draft won’t be an instant fix. Stian Solberg will be someone to watch if they want a higher-end prospect for the blue line, contrary to my initial belief that they should address defense with their pick in the fourth round.

With his 6-foot-2 stature, the Norwegian fits in well with the Bruins’ affinity for large defensemen (Lohrei, Brandon Carlo, and Hampus Lindholm are all at least 6-foot-4 in height). His reputation has grown following his outstanding World Juniors campaign, and similar to Hemming, he played in Norway’s top league this season against adult opponents. In addition to playing for Team Norway at the World Championship in May, where he scored two goals and added three points in seven games, he finished with 15 points in 42 games.

Solberg is recognized for being a very “old school” defenseman who plays with a strong physical style. He performs admirably in transitional situations and remains composed under pressure, which the Bruins have occasionally struggled with this season. In addition, he is a left-shot defenseman, which raises a few concerns for Boston in addition to Lohrei and Lindholm. The front office should definitely think about include him in their prospect pool if he is still available at pick 25.

Hage, Michael
Over the past few drafts, the Bruins have made a concerted effort to identify center prospects. They selected centers with three of their five picks in the 2023 draft. It paid off this season as second-round pick Matthew Poitras from the 2022 Draft made his debut and had a respectable rookie season up until his shoulder surgery in February that ended his career. I didn’t believe that centers would be a top priority for them this year, considering how many centers they’ve chosen in Rounds 2 through 4 of the previous drafts.

However, now that the Bruins have a first-round pick, this could be their chance to add a center prospect who could be ready for the NHL sooner than other prospects in the system. Michael Hage is one of the players who might still be available at pick number 25, and the team might be eager to take one given their dearth of center depth. According to a few rankings, he will explode between 24 and 28, which is ideal for Boston.

Several NHL teams are showing a lot of interest in Hage. Due to a shoulder injury, he missed the majority of 2022–2023; however, he recovered to become a valuable member of the Chicago Steel of the USHL. Scouting reports highlight his exceptional skating and playmaking prowess, as well as his improvement on the defensive end of the field over the previous campaign. With 33 goals and 75 points in 54 games, he was selected for the USHL’s inaugural all-star team. He has pledged to attend the University of Michigan, which in recent years has produced a lot of elite players.

Hage has the potential to be remembered as this draft class’s steal in subsequent seasons. Could he have been ranked higher if he hadn’t been restricted to just 13 games in 2022–2023? If he is still available at pick 25, he is undoubtedly a fascinating prospect and a great addition to the Bruins’ pipeline.

Luchanko Jett
Jett Luchanko is another center that the Bruins may still be able to select at pick 25 if Hage is not selected. His draft standing has increased recently as a result of his excellent play in the second half of the Guelph Storm’s Ontario Hockey League (OHL) season. With 74 points in 68 games, he placed among the top 30 scorers in the Ontario Hockey League.

Luchanko has garnered recognition for his exceptional skill set and willingness to compete for the puck, all while putting up impressive stats. He not only possesses excellent offensive skills but has already shown great defensive ability, and great two-way centers are highly valued in Boston. Despite his many excellent qualities, he has gone somewhat unnoticed, which could work to the Bruins’ advantage given that he is still available late in the first round.

Choose the Greatest Talent on Hand
Ultimately, it’s difficult to say with certainty who will be available when the Bruins select at number 25. To put it bluntly, the front office must choose the player who is obviously the best available if he is still available. The team just needs the best player available, not so much as to prioritize a position with this pick.

The pool of potential Bruins players isn’t always as small as people assume, in my opinion. A few of their players are still growing and could become real NHL players. However, they could still use some more well-known prospects who are likely to be ready to make the jump to the NHL sooner and who are entering the league with a little more polish.

The fact that the Bruins are back in the first round for the first time since 2021 is undoubtedly exciting. Every year, the NHL Draft marks a high point for the league. To prepare for the big day, be sure to check out The Hockey Writers Draft Guide.


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