Not long ago the Boston Bruins were one-quarter of Northeastern sports royalty. The 2010 Stanley Cup champions managed to remain a threat throughout the playoffs until missing the second season this year. Not to worry though as new GM Don Sweeney would rescue the team from a tough cap situation, keep important young players and have the Boston Bruins competitive again next season.
Then the NHL Draft happened. In a few short days the Boston Bruins managed to go from “we need to move a few tough contracts” to a scorched Earth, nobody is safe and the franchise is directionless series of events that left fans of the Bruins, and of hockey in general, in shock.
The first trade didn’t seem anything unusual as the rights to Carl Soderberg were sent to the Colorado Avalanche for a sixth-round pick that once belonged to Boston. Soderberg then signed a five-year contract averaging a cap hit of $4.75 million per season. Soderberg is a big center at 6’3” and over 210 pounds but if that salary buys you an average of 46 points over two NHL seasons from a 29-year old, the Bruins did the right thing here.
After that trade sanity went out the window for the Boston Bruins. June 26th, 2015 will live in infamy in Boston as the day Dougie Hamilton moved to the Calgary Flames and Milan Lucic was traded to the West Coast, landing with the Los Angeles Kings. Neither of these deals wound up getting the Boston Bruins what they needed in return.
First, let’s look at Hamilton. He was the heir apparent to Zdeno Chara as the teams best on the back-end. Young, very talented and suddenly traded because he was going to cost too much. Spare me the character assaults on the way out the door. The Bruins offered him a contract they thought was fair market, Hamilton balked and landed in small market Calgary.
The rest of it post-trade is embarrassing to the Boston Bruins. Why was this only an issue brought up once Hamilton was out the door? Why was it made public? Most locker room issues we will never hear about because the majority of players, coaches and front office staff handle business like this professionally. Not as anonymous sources after the fact. Did this not happen with Tyler Seguin too?
So the Bruins tried to save face by lighting into Hamilton after his trade. Allegedly. What about the other deal made the same day, sending Lucic to the Kings? From a cap perspective trading Lucic was nearly certain and I understand you want to get the best value in return for a player. I also have no doubt Lucic still has plenty in the tank and will be energized with the Kings in the last year of his deal before free agency.
But the return? The 13th pick in the draft (ok, good), prospect Colin Miller (ok…) and goaltender Martin Jones (WHAT?!). I’d like to get Tuukka Rask in front of a microphone for his thoughts on that one. Have the Boston Bruins seen enough to give up on Malcolm Subban after a grand total of one NHL start? Or does this signal a willingness to shed more salary and move on from Rask? There isn’t a doubt in my mind the Kings won that deal.
When the dust settled the Boston Bruins were picking 13th, 14th and 15th in the NHL Draft. At least there was a chance to redeem themselves with those assets. Rumors flew about moving up to the third spot but that never happened. So the Bruins made the three picks and seem to have left greater talent on the board with the last two of them.
The Boston Bruins are far from barren. Plenty of talent remains led by Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Torey Krug, David Krejci and Rask. But Chara is nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career and the cap situation is still less than ideal with only $7.8 million to the ceiling after the draft weekend. There are only five defencemen under contract now while Loui Erickson and Reilly Smith are on the horizon for new contracts.
That means nobody is safe on the Boston Bruins roster. I’d say anyone is available for the right price but after the NHL Draft some of the Bruins could be available for the wrong price too. Risks were taken and mistakes were made. Now a proud franchise heads into free agency seemingly without a direction, a plan, or a hope of making the playoffs this season. Clearly the Boston Bruins did not come out winners at the NHL Draft.
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