(Photo: Courtesy of USA Hockey)
When General Manager Don Sweeney addressed the media via conference call on Friday, June 19, he was asked about where his team sits in the draft lineup and if his camp was happy with that 14th pick.
“I think we are comfortable because we feel very good about the list in general. We know the type of play, and the quality of player, that will be there,” he said. “We’ve had talks moving in both directions, to be honest with you, and I think every general manager is going to have talks to see what may or may not transpire. I’m really not going to turn down anything. This situation I’m in now, I have to have my ears wide open.”
However, if Sweeney and group stay with the pick as it stands now, one player who is likely to be available when they are called to the podium for their first rounder is center Colin White.
White is a Boston, Massachusetts native, who grew up watching the Bruins play. The Hanover, Massachusetts 18-year-old spent this past season in the U.S. National Under-18 Team of the USHL and played on the U18 Team USA World Championship team. He is a Boston College commit.
During the NHL Combine that took place June 5 and 6, White met with the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers among other teams. Of course he was asked if he was excited to have met with the Bruins and if that interview was harder for him than the others.
“Definitely [it was exciting]. It was my hometown team. It was great to meet with them,” he told media. “I tried to stay as calm as I [could] throughout them all, but you know, it was definitely more exciting than the others because it was hometown again.”
The Bruins have drafted a hometown player in the last three years: Ryan Donato (Round 2, 56th overall – 2014); Ryan Fitzgerald (Round 4, 120th overall – 2013); and Matt Grzelcyk (Round 3, 85th overall – 2012). White has made it known that he would like to play for the Boston organization.
Given the depth of this season’s draft—perhaps one of the deepest in almost 20 years (though overshadowed by the generational players Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel)—the first round pick while still important may not need to be spent on a player who could immediately slot into the lineup. Sweeney indicated that their choices in the draft would not likely be dictated by a particular position.
“Well, I mean overall, I think the philosophy in general, especially I think when you’re looking in the top 14 where we’re drafting, it’s probably going to come down to best player available,” he said. “You know, that’s not always, because we may have things that transpire between now and then that alter that philosophy. I think in general, our scouts have worked and covered the mileage that they have to get the guys in the order that they want to draft them, not just how they see the board falling and that’s important.”
And for White, that could also be important. Mock Drafts and prospect books that suggest the potential pick where a player may be taken usually only agree on the top couple before beginning to spread out in their variances. This year that means that everyone agrees that McDavid will go first overall and Eichel will go second. After that the third player could be Noah Hanifin, Dylan Strome, or Mitchell Marner depending on which list you consult. In White’s case, he has been slotted at 15 (ISS), 17 (Sportsology), 19 (The Hockey News), 23 (Hockey Prospects), and 29 (Central Scouting).
So, should the Bruins take White with their first round pick? Well, he is a solid two-way forward with an elite level hockey IQ.
“Rises to the occasion providing character and leadership,” said ISS scout Steve Cocker. “Competitor who displays an effective 200ft game and unrelenting checking game off the puck.”
HockeyProspect.com agrees with his hockey IQ and discussed his style. “He is a skilled power forward style with good speed in an honest stride, nice accurate shot and hands.”
His season was hurt this past year with a bout of mono that caused him to start out slowly, but he’s a clutch player. His OT winning-goal at the U18 World Championship gave Team USA the gold medal.
“I just go out there and try to play my hardest every game, stay consistent throughout the year,” he said at Combine. “In bigger games I seem to pick it up even more.”
He has been described by ISS as “a player who coaches love to have on their side who can be relied upon to eat up big minutes and add character along the way.” In fact he sounds a lot like a current Boston Bruin, Patrice Bergeron, who just won his third (and second consecutive) Selke Award in four years.
“I like to watch a lot of Bergeron in the video room a lot. He plays that two-way game,” White said. “I watch how he does all the little things around the ice so I try to take parts of his game, try to model it a little bit.”
Not only does he have hockey IQ but also he is watching perhaps one of the best, and until recently, under-appreciated two-way forwards in the NHL. Some of the scouting reports even talk of White’s skill at the face off wins and ISS compares his overall style to that of Bergeron. Perhaps another way in which he reminds many of Bergeron is that he is not a flashy player; he simply goes out there to get the job done.
“He plays a strong 200-foot game who can score with his hard, accurate shot, win face-offs, and play physical when needed,” said HockeyProspect.com scout Russ Bitely.
And while some do not believe he will put up huge numbers of goals, this past season, despite missing 11 games to the mono and a wrist injury, he averaged a point a game with 54 points (23 goals and 31 assists) in 54 games.
Should the Bruins use their 14th pick in the first round on White? In a word, yes.