B's Bolster Depth with Heinen, Bjork & Johansson
BostonBruins.com — The Bruins shored up their depth in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, adding left-shot forward Danton Heinen (116th overall), left-shot winger Anders Bjork and defenseman Emil Johansson (206th overall) to round out their selections.
In Friday's first round, Boston selected forward David Pastrnak, and in the second round, it selected Massachusetts native Ryan Donato, the son of former Bruin and Harvard hockey coach Ted Donato.
“It’s a real long year — a lot of miles,” Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said after the book was closed on the 2014 Draft. “These guys — it’s kind of a celebration of their year, I think. Keith [Gretzky] — with the help of Scott [Bradley] — they did a terrific job. Our list was as tightly packed as I’ve ever seen in our time here. Our list was good. While we only had five of seven picks, I really felt confident in where we were in our list. Happy with our guys. I felt the same way last year. We’re getting some good players.”
Johansson — a native of Vaxjo, Sweden — was the sole defenseman selected by the Bruins in the 2014 Draft. The seventh-rounder played in 42 games with HV71 J18 of the Swedish SuperElit league in 2013-14, registering two goals and seven assists for nine points with a plus-7 rating. He also played in 13 games with Sweden’s U18 International Junior team, notching a goal and an assist.
“I was told he’s a good two-way player, good two-way defenseman, good skater,” Chiarelli said.
Fourth-rounder Heinen was in Denver, where he is taking summer classes as he prepares to attend the University of Denver, when he got the call that the Bruins had drafted him.
“My adviser actually called me and gave me the news,” he said. “I was definitely very excited.
“They’re obviously a great organization — Original Six team, competitive, been competitive every year the last few years, so definitely an honor to be drafted by them.”
Heinen, a native of Langley, British Columbia, describes himself as an offensive threat with special teams skills whose best attributes are his vision and his playmaking abilities. As a member of the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL in 2013-14, he put those skills on display, tallying 29 goals and 32 assists for 61 points in 57 games.
In six playoff games in 2013-14, he finished with seven points (two goals, five assists).
Prior to joining the Eagles — for whom he served as captain last season — Heinen played for the Richmond Sockeyes of the PIJHL (2012-13) and the Valley West Hawks of the BCMML (2011-12).
"[He's an] offensive player -- real high skilled player," said Director of Amateur Scouting Keith Gretzky. "He has to gain some strength -- that’s his one concern right now. There’s a lot of kids that have to get stronger, and he has to get stronger."
Heinen is one of three current or future NCAA players selected by the Bruins in this draft, joining Donato (Harvard) and Bjork (Notre Dame).
“Here’s the attraction to an NCAA pick, or even a European pick: If they’re in a good program, they’ll develop, and you get him for four years, essentially,” Chiarelli said. “Sometimes that youngster isn’t ready, or strong enough, when he turns 20 to play in the American League. So you get that little period where he gets a little stronger, and provided it’s a good program — whether it’s in the European leagues or colleges.
“Colleges, we see a little more, we’re closer to. We get a lot of good players coming out of college. I like their development, too.”
Heinen, who hopes to make the trip to Boston for development camp this summer, knows that he will have plenty to work on as he makes the transition to college hockey.
“[I’m] just always trying to improve on every aspect of my game,” he said. “I’ll just continue to work hard here in Denver and try to make the Boston Bruins in the future.”
Bjork, the Bruins’ fifth-round pick, has plenty of hockey pedigree in his family: His father played at the University of Notre Dame — which Bjork plans to attend in 2014-15 — before playing in Europe and the AHL. His cousin is Erik Contra, currently a member of the Ottawa Senators.
“They’ve taught me a lot, especially on work ethic and perseverance,” Bjork said of his father and cousin. “Especially — they’ve always told me it takes a lot of effort overcoming adversity, but it’s how you bounce back from that adversity that makes you stronger.”
The winger, a native of Mequon, Wisc., is eagerly anticipating his arrival in South Bend, but first, he is finishing up some classes in order to graduate high school early.
“I’m real excited about that,” Bjork said. “It’s a great place to play, and they have great coaches and players and everything.”
In 61 games with the U.S. National U18 Team in 2013-14, Bjork registered 21 goals and 21 assists for 42 points. His team also won the gold medal at the world championships, which has been a highlight of Bjork’s career thus far.
“They’ve been great and really helped me develop my game a lot,” Bjork said of the U18 team. “All the people there, they just really try to help you succeed. They do whatever it takes and they taught us how to work hard, and the lifestyle, and that you got to be real disciplined in everything and it all paid off.”
Gretzky was thrilled the B's were able to bring in Bjork.
"He’s an up and down winger," Gretzky said. "He played in the Under-18 program, but we like what he brings. He’s well liked by his teammates, he seems to have a lot of character by what we hear and we’ve seen it on the ice and we’re excited to have him."
Bjork is the first to say there is plenty he can improve upon as he transitions to the next level — particularly in terms of his strength and his battling skills — but as a responsible, hard-working, two-way forward, he already models his game after someone near and dear to Bruins fans’ hearts.
“I really like watching Patrice Bergeron,” Bjork said. “He’s just an all-around good player — great offensive ability and really good hockey sense.”
When he found out he had been drafted by the Black and Gold, Bjork was “ecstatic” and is eager for the next stage of this journey to begin.
“It’s obviously great to be drafted by such a great organization and a successful organization,” he said. “They’re obviously one of the best franchises in the NHL, and they have always been one of the better teams in the NHL every year.
“They’re just a great organization, and they do things the right way there. I’m very happy to be a part of it.”