The Boston Bruins experienced dramatic turnover this summer. They had a tough go of things in 2014-15, finishing with a solid 96 points but they still were eliminated from playoff contention on the season’s last day. The Bruins felt they needed change despite finishing as close as you can to the playoffs, and canned general manager Peter Chiarelli, promoting assistant GM Don Sweeney in his place. What followed was a series of head-scratching moves. The club traded a number of it’s high-profile players, and made some curious selections in the draft. Sending Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for three draft picks was a bad move, but not all of Sweeney’s deals were as bad as initially thought. The Bruins have not been the dumpster fire many expected, as they have a healthy 21-15-5 record and are in the thick of playoff contention.
While it’s hard to give credit to Sweeney for the Hamilton move, or his three consecutive first-round blunders, in retrospect his offseason wasn’t that bad.
Sweeney’s best deal was trading power forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings for goaltender Martin Jones, defenseman Colin Miller and the 13th overall pick. Sweeney subsequently traded Jones to the San Jose Sharks for a 2016 first-round pick and prospect Sean Kuraly. The Kings have enjoyed Lucic’s contributions as he’s on a 20-goal pace and brings a physical edge, but the Bruins are clear winners here.
— NHL (@NHL) June 26, 2015
The 23-year-old Miller has scored 3 goals and 11 assists in 32 games this season while averaging 16 minutes per game. Boston has sheltered him (he leads the B’s with 43.0 percent offensive zone starts) but he’s an offensive weapon and a building block on the backend. Boston took Jakub Zboril with the 13th pick, who’s coming off a strong world junior tournament, and the 2016 pick could be a potential lottery pick.
Matt Beleskey, who the Bruins signed to a surprisingly reasonable five-year, $19.8 million has picked up some of the slack in Lucic’s absence. He’s scored 7 goals and 20 points this season and has been a physical, all-effort player for the Bruins. He’s a perfect secondary player for the team. Yes, like many predicted he hasn’t continued his scoring pace from last season, but he’s no David Clarkson either. At just under $4 million per season this was a solid move by Sweeney.
Trading Jimmy Hayes for Reilly Smith was basically a wash, as both players have similarly produced this season, but Sweeney managed to include Marc Savard’s $4 million cap-hit for the next two years. The move allowed the Bruins to have some cap protection while the Panthers had the money to spare to take on a slightly younger, slightly better player. The move allowed the Bruins to get Beleskey. Sweeney wrapped a nice little bow around the deal by signing Hayes to a reasonable three-year extension worth $2.3 million – for a player who should be good for 15-20 goals per season, that’s fairly solid.
So, the Bruins offseason was far from perfect, but it wasn’t as deadly as many (myself included) predicted. Sweeney has made some seemingly boneheaded decisions, but he’s also made some good hockey moves which have kept the Bruins afloat. It’s easy to chastise him, and he deserves some flack, but he should be commended for the good works he’s done as well.