Cam Neely voiced frustration over ‘narrative’ from 2015 draft

"I’m tired of talking about 2015."

Cam Neely Draft
Brighton, MA—10/10/2022 - Cam Neely, President of the Boston Bruins (R) speaks to reporters during Media Day Cam Neely speaking during the Bruins' media day in Oct. 2022. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Even in 2022, the Bruins are still living at least partly in the shadow of the 2015 NHL Draft.

That year, newly-installed general manager Don Sweeney decided to trade established players Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, netting two first-round picks as part of the return. It gave Boston three consecutive first-round selections heading into the draft.

Using picks 13, 14, and 15, the Bruins selected Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zach Senyshyn. While Zboril has drawn preseason praise after recovering from a 2021 ACL tear and DeBrusk earned a contract extension (while retracting his earlier trade request), the picks have long been a point of criticism.


Bruins analysts view the decision to skip players like Matthew Barzal or Kyle Connor (both taken immediately after Boston’s picks) as a major mistake.

But while much of the discussion regarding a draft from seven years ago has receded to the background, a portion of it was relaunched after recent comments from Bruins president Cam Neely.

Neely, speaking at the team’s Monday media day ahead of Wednesday’s season-opener against the Capitals, admitted frustration about the 2015 draft.

“Well, the narrative, quite frankly, is a little frustrating to me,” he said. “I mean we’ve said it many times from a draft perspective, we have missed on the high side, especially in 2015 and I’m tired of talking about 2015.

“But if you look at who the Boston Bruins have drafted, say from maybe 2015 to 2018 — it may be a little unfair to look at players from 2019 through 2021 in their development stage — but if you look at the players the Boston Bruins have drafted and how many NHL games they’ve played, I think it’s amongst some of the highest in the league.”

Neely spoke in defense of Sweeney, who was given a contract extension earlier in 2022 even as the team’s now-former head coach Bruce Cassidy was fired in June.


“The narrative is a little old for me,” Neely said. “Every GM in the league makes mistakes and we’re going to continue to make mistakes, but hopefully we learn from those mistakes and limit those mistakes. I think that Don has certainly evolved over the last few years and our scouting staff has evolved. We certainly have high expectations and high standards, but mistakes are going to happen, but I don’t think it’s as bad as the narrative is out there.”

To Neely’s point, Boston selected David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy in the first round on both sides of the 2015 draft, both of whom have established themselves as top NHL players (among other successful picks during Neely’s tenure). Yet given the prominence of the team’s position in 2015 — with three first-round picks — Bruins’ historical draft analysis may always end up circling around what might have been.


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