The Boston Bruins had to wait a long time before they could get involved in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Once they finally got their opportunity on Wednesday, the B’s put an end to the significantly longer wait times of two prospects.
Shut out in their attempts to trade back into Tuesday night’s first round, the Bruins used their second- and third-round choices in a draft held remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic to select players who had been passed over in the 2019 Draft. Mason Lohrei, a United States Hockey League defenseman, and Trevor Kuntar, who is about to start his first season at Boston College, were claimed with the No. 58 and No. 89 picks, respectively.
The Bruins were without a first-round pick for the second time in the last three years, sacrificing this year’s Round 1 choice, No. 27 overall, plus defense prospect Axel Andersson (a second-round pick two years ago) and little-used veteran David Backes, who has one year left on a contract that carries a $6 million salary cap charge (the B’s retained $1.5 million of Backes’ 2020-21 salary) to the Ducks for winger Ondrej Kase.
The Bruins also were without a fourth-round pick on Wednesday. That pick went to the Devils late in 2018-19 as part of a package to obtain winger Marcus Johansson.
Here’s a look at the Bruins’ selections on Wednesday.
• Round 2, No. 58 overall: Mason Lohrei, D, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL): The son of a longtime minor league and USHL coach, Lohrei is something of a late bloomer: He was eligible for last year’s draft and went unclaimed, and wasn’t assigned a rank by NHL Central Scouting (No. 132 among North American skaters) until this year’s final report.
A 6-foot-4 defenseman who plays at about 200 pounds, Lohrei is coming off a productive season with the Gamblers, for whom he scored eight goals and 29 assists for 37 points over 48 games in 2019-20. He’ll play another year in Green Bay before attending Ohio State in 2021-22.
Lohrei, on being passed over last year: “I felt like I was being overlooked, but it’s the way things go. I wouldn’t say it was a struggle ... I kind of just kept my head down and went to work every day, because I knew this would come.”
• Round 3, No. 89 overall: Trevor Kuntar, C, Boston College (Hockey East): An incoming freshman at BC who also has hockey bloodlines — Kuntar’s father, Les, was a long-time minor league goalie who played six games for the Canadiens in 1993-94 — Kuntar, like Lohrei, was passed over in last year’s draft. Ranked at No. 143 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Kuntar is a stocky 6-foot center who plays at close to 200 pounds, and he’s coming off the best of three seasons with the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms: He scored 28 goals with 25 assists for 53 points in 44 games, one year after a 19-17--36, 61-game campaign.
Kuntar, on going undrafted last year: “I’ll never forget that day for the rest of my life. I thought about that every day. That’s one of the things that motivated me (this season) to keep pushing and keep going.”
• Round 5, No. 151 overall: Mason Langenbrunner, D, Eden Prairie (Minn.) HS: Talk about easy background checks. Langenbrunner is the son of Jamie Langen-brunner, the former NHLer who is currently the Bruins’ director of player development. The younger Langenbrunner is committed to Harvard University for the 2021-22 season.
• Round 6, No. 182 overall: Riley Duran, C, Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass.
The Bruins’ attention now shifts to the opening of the free agent market at noon on Friday.
They stand to lose unrestricted free agent defenseman Torey Krug, and also haven’t come to terms yet with fellow blue-liner Zdeno Chara.
Lafreniere goes No. 1
Five days before his 19th birthday, left winger Alexis Lafreniere received a nice present: The New York Rangers selected him with the top overall pick in the NHL draft on Tuesday.
“It’s a big honor for me,” Lafreniere said. “Obviously, the New York Rangers are a big organization with a lot of history and a lot of great players. So for me, it’s a big honor and I’m really excited to join this team.”
Lafreniere was viewed as the certain No. 1 overall pick after leading the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in assists (77) and points (112) for Rimouski Oceanic last season.
He was selected the QMJHL’s Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row, this time posting 2.15 points per game, the best average in a top Canadian junior league since Connor McDavid’s rate of 2.50 per game in 2014-15.
The Rangers never previously selected first overall in the draft since the current format was established in 1979. They chose Andre Veilleux with the No. 1 overall pick in 1965.
New York finished the 2019-20 season with a 37-28-5 record, the 79 points ranking next-to-last in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers still made the expanded Eastern Co