5 things to know about Bruins’ first-round pick Dean Letourneau


“He’s a hell of a player and he’s really creating a lot of buzz. I call him like a Tage Thompson 2.0.”

Dean Letourneau, center, adjusts his cap after being selected by the Boston Bruins during the first round of the NHL hockey draft Friday, June 28, 2024, in Las Vegas.
Dean Letourneau adds plenty of upside to Boston’s prospect pool. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

For just the fourth time since 2017, the Bruins found themselves back in the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night.

And with the 25th overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, the Bruins swung for the fences with a high-upside prospect down the middle. 

Boston selected center Dean Letourneau (St. Andrew’s College) with their re-acquired first-round pick, bringing in a 6-foot-7 forward who boasts both a high ceiling — but also a fair share of questions regarding his floor at hockey’s highest level.

Here’s five things to know about Boston’s first-round selection:

Letourneau’s size makes him a difference-maker 

Letourneau is far from the only first-round talent in his draft class who has earned high marks for his playmaking capabilities and skating skills.

But few NHL prospects boast that skillset in a 6-foot-7, 214-pound frame. 

Even though there have been plenty of viable NHL prospects who have projected as bruising power forwards, Letourneau is cut from a different cloth in that he doesn’t necessarily play like a 6-foot-7 skater. 

Rather than rely on just his size to impose his will in the offensive zone, Letourneau’s agility and poise with the puck are regularly mentioned in his scouting reports — with his intimidating frame used more as a complement to his overall skill set, rather than the primary avenue for his success.

“He moves really well for a big guy,” St. Andrew’s coach David Manning told’s Adam Kimelman. “His skating and his agility and his explosiveness are all very different for a bigger guy like him. … I think he’s going to shock a lot of people with his athleticism. 

“He’s not your typical big, lanky guy.  His athleticism is probably a little bit unknown. You watch him, you see it in his skating ability, he’s got good agility, he turns well, there’s no awkwardness to how he moves. He is long but there’s no awkwardness to him. He’s very athletic.”

While he’s viewed as a bit of a project given his unorthodox path toward becoming a first-round talent, Letourneau’s blend of size and skill makes him a gamble that could pay off if his game translates to higher levels of competition. 

“He’s very intriguing to me, has a ton of potential and could have a really high ceiling,” NHL Central Scouting’s Nick Smith told Kimelman of Letourneau. “I think it’s hard to find a player with his size and length to have soft hands and good feet. He can make plays with sense and vision with a scoring touch around the net. He still has a ton of filling out to do as well.”

He lit up the prep circuit 

While most hockey prospects in North America raise their stock through the collegiate ranks, the USHL, and the CHL, Letourneau opted for a different path. 

Despite getting drafted by the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL in the ninth round (No. 174) of the 2022 OHL draft, Letourneau chose the prep-school route with St. Andrew’s College. 

Letourneau promptly torched the competition against fellow prep opponents, especially during the 2023-24 season. The 18-year-old pivot scored a whopping 61 goals and 127 points in just 56 games for St. Andrew’s, including a league-leading 25 points in 14 games within the Prep Hockey Conference. 

While the level of competition at the prep circuit is a drop from other leagues, Letourneau’s video-game stat line is eye-popping, especially when factoring in his unique profile as a big-bodied, agile forward. 

“I got to play 20-plus minutes a night: power play, PK. I started every game, I finished every game,” Letourneau said of what he got out of his time at St. Andrew’s College. “A lot of people, they don’t like the league that I played in — because it was a little lower in competition.

“But I mean, we played U-20 in Prague and  Germany. We played U-20 teams in Canada. We played all the prep schools in the state. So that’s Shattuck-St. Mary’s, Mount Saint Charles. So our competition wasn’t as low as everyone kind of says it is.”

He’s been compared to an All-Star forward

Considering his unique makeup as a 6-foot-7 playmaking forward, it should come as little surprise what current NHLer Letourneau has drawn comparisons to — at least if he hits his ceiling. 

“He’s a hell of a player and he’s really creating a lot of buzz. I call him like a Tage Thompson 2.0,” Leland De Langley, a skills coach at St. Andrew’s College, told Scott Wheeler of The Athletic. “His skating, his shot, and the way he can control a puck in tight for a guy that’s 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8, it’s crazy.”

Thompson — a 6-foot-6 forward who relies on far more than just his imposing frame to dominate in the offensive zone — has developed into one of the more unique and effective forwards in the league over the last few seasons. 

Over his last three seasons with the Sabres, Thompson has averaged 38 goals and 72 points. 

The Bruins would be thrilled if Letourneau followed a similar trajectory as Thompson within their organization. It should be important to note that even though Thompson is one of the more impactful players in the NHL, he also took some time to develop and find his footing at the pro game. 

Before taking off in his first full season in Buffalo in 2021-22, Thompson scored just 18 goals over his first 145 games in the NHL ranks. 

Patience will also need to be preached for an intriguing, but raw, prospect like Letourneau. 

His competition in prep league raises concerns about his NHL upside

Even though Letourneau preached the benefits of playing at St. Andrew’s College, the primary knock regarding his potential as an impact NHLer revolves around the level of competition he feasted on in 2023-24 — and whether or not his impressive production will continue to translate to high levels.

As Corey Pronman of The Athletic noted, Letourneau’s potential as a top-six center – coupled with his size — makes him a player worth rolling the dice on.

But it remains to be seen if he’s the next Tage Thompson, or maybe more of a middle-six player whose sterling scoring numbers are due for some regression moving forward. 

“Letourneau isn’t a high-energy compete and some scouts question his effort at times, but he gets to the middle well enough and isn’t afraid of using his body,” Pronman wrote. “The debate on Letourneau will be how real his offense is. The athleticism is obvious, but is he actually NHL smart or does he have NHL scoring ability?

“It’s so hard to pinpoint at the low level of competition he faced all season. He could be Tage Thompson, but he could be Joe Colborne or Riley Tufte.” 

He’s playing in the Bruins’ backyard this fall

Don Sweeney and the rest of the Bruins’ front office won’t have to travel very far to watch Letourneau develop. 

Letourneau is set to play for Boston College in the fall, with the Ontario native making the jump up to the college ranks in 2024-25 after former Eagles star Will Smith signed his entry-level contract with the Sharks in May. 

“I mean, their track record of developing elite NHL talent is pretty huge,” Letourneau said of his decision to commit to the Eagles. “They’ve just got guys last year that were picked fourth, eighth, and I think 23rd in the first round. So they get a lot of guys that develop to be great NHL players. So that was kind of the biggest decision for me.”

Letourneau, who initially committed to Northeastern in 2022, plans to develop at Chestnut Hill for at least a few seasons before hopefully making the jump to the NHL

“I’m gonna try to make Boston as soon as possible—  that’s my goal is to make the NHL as soon as possible,” Letourneau said. “So I’m gonna work my best this offseason and next year at Boston College and kind of see where it takes me. But I would probably say one or two years until I think I’d be ready to step into Boston.” 

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