Bruins are banking on Dean Letourneau’s upside


The 6-foot-7 Letourneau will play at Boston College this upcoming season after leading the U-18 AAA Prep League in scoring last year.

Dean Letourneau was selected by the Bruins in the first round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

LAS VEGAS — In keeping their 25th pick and selecting Dean Letourneau, the Boston Bruins are banking on his potential upside.

Granted, the Bruins had multiple targets in mind with their first-round pick. But amid some trade movement in the two picks in front of the Bruins, Don Sweeney received his round of calls regarding the 25th selection.

The tenth-year Boston GM confirmed they might have moved down the draft board had Letourneau been picked earlier. But with the shortage of potential NHL centermen in their pipeline, the Bruins kept their pick to select the 6-foot-7 centerman out of St. Andrew’s College of the U-18 AAA Prep League.

“When Dean was on the board, we had several opportunities to slide back as you saw a couple of teams here in front of us do the exact same thing in terms of where they were and where the Draft was heading,” Sweeney said following his first Round 1 pick since selecting Fabian Lysell three years ago. “Our guys were very excited from day one that he may be in that room. Again, we’re never being target-focused on one player, but I think had he not been there, we might have been trying to move on.”

Letourneau, who sat 23rd among North American skaters in the final NHL Central Scouting ratings, stood out with his size, quickness, smooth hands, quick shot release, and offensive instincts during Boston’s scouting process. But Boston’s latest selection took an unconventional route during his time in the Canadian College ranks.

The Bruins won’t have to travel too far to keep tabs on Letroneau as he takes the next step in his hockey development. The Braeside, Ontario, product committed to Boston College last season and will head to The Heights in the fall for his freshman season in 2024-25.

Indeed, Letourneau will encounter a pretty significant transition adjusting to the U.S. college game after leading his league in scoring with 127 points in 2023-24. But he’ll have a chance to play valuable minutes immediately after two of Boston College’s top forward talents, Will Smith and Cutter Gauthier, departed for the pros following the team’s run to the National Championship game last spring.

“What stood out is the frame of the player and his skillset to tell you the truth. Not so much the positional side of things, but he moves very well at the size. He’s got very good hands, got an elite shot,” Sweeney said of the scouting process with Letourneau. “Most people will talk about the quality of competition at the level he’s played at. It’ll be a big jump for him to go to Boston College next year, but the opportunity is laid in front of him with Smith leaving. So we think that’s going to be a great development opportunity for Dean to continue to grow and filling the gaps in his game.”

As strange as it sounds, Letourneau feels his biggest area for improvement involves using his frame more often against tougher competition.

Again, Letourneau isn’t the prototypical hockey big man, relying more on his quickness and skillset over his physical frame to date. But over the next few years, he’s looking forward to the opportunity of adding some heavier traits to his game to complement his high offensive motor.

“I think it would be just to get bigger and stronger and maintain my speed. I want to play a bigger boys game where I’m using my size more,” Letourneau said. “I’m still learning how to do that, and that’s something I’ll try to work on this off-season.”

Letourneau will begin his summer training on Monday when he reports to Development Camp in Brighton. From there, he envisions spending a year or two in Chestnut Hill before pondering his future with the Bruins.

Between now and then, Letroneau feels that his competitiveness will direct his path to realizing his dream of becoming an NHL player.

“I feel that will be my meal ticket will be, and it depends how competitve I am,” Letourneau said. “I want to win. I want to make it there. So that will probably be my meal ticket.”

The Bruins made a boom or bust selection on Friday to put the finishing touches on the Linus Ullmark trade earlier in the week. Letourneau drew similar comparisons to another skilled big-body player in Buffalo’s Tage Thompson during Draft Day.

Letourneau will cash in his meal ticket to the pros if he develops similarly to Thompson. In turn, the Bruins would also receive a worthwhile investment following the Ullmark deal.

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