I can honestly say that I have not heard the Boston Bruins mentioned in so many different rumors, trades, and transactions in one day since I started covering the team from this perspective. June 26, 2015, will certainly go down as a historic day in Bruins history.
First off, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has come in and taken the reigns with an eagerness unlike anyone else we had ever seen at the helm. The organization understood that the scrutiny would be in abundance and the backlash from the media would be high if they did not get a jumpstart on this offseason.
Now that the smoke has cleared, the Bruins definitely did their due diligence.
The Bruins made a minor move by re-signing defenseman Adam McQuaid to a four-year extension worth $11 million. Although the depth and ruggedness that “Quaider” brings will be immense, giving out that kind of money to a bottom-pair blue liner who missed 87 games in three years and scored only three goals (career high) in any season as a professional is a head scratcher.
Perhaps it was just a coincidence or a mastermind of a plan to bury this news, but Sweeney also altered the blue line by trading Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for draft picks. According to Sweeney, he felt that Hamilton “would not be comfortable in Boston long term.” Allegedly, he was seeking a deal worth multiple years near $7 million per season, and the Bruins reportedly made him a significant offer. If that was the case, then not one person can blame the Bruins for making this move. An offer sheet would have pried the 22-year-old stud away from the Bruins anyway, so at least they got something in return.
The team was not done at that point as they traded one of the prodigal sons of Boston (Milan Lucic) to the Los Angeles Kings for backup goaltender Martin Jones and the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft.
Lucic, 27, has one year worth $6.5 million remaining on his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2015-16 season. He was looking for a contract extension with Boston.
The Bruins originally drafted Lucic in the second round (No. 50 overall) of the 2006 NHL entry draft. He played eight seasons for the Bruins and accumulated 139 goals and 203 assists for 342 points in 566 regular-season games. With the recent drop off that power forwards tend to experience combined with the above-mentioned contract details, the time was now to sever the chord.
One of the biggest needs that has gone under the radar for the Bruins this offseason is the lack of a backup goaltender. Jones, 25, will be a solid netminder behind Tuukka Rask. Jones posted a 16-11-2 record in 34 career NHL games playing behind Jonathan Quick. Someone who can come in and play 12 to 15 games to give Rask a breather will pay dividends. With the acquisition of Jones, the goaltending duties will not look as lopsided as it did last year. Believe me, those stories and numbers from Rask’s 2014-15 workhorse season have been well documented.
So, the Bruins entered the 7 p.m. hour on this past Friday night holding the 13th, 14th, and 15th picks in the first round of the draft. The Bruins had been behind the scenes trying to shoot to the top of the draft and claim a future franchise-altering player or even explore a trade for established players. The Black and Gold had the assets to do just that.
What did they do? They held on to those picks and made three-straight selections. Jakub Zboril (overall solid defenseman), Jake DeBrusk (goal scorer), and Zachary Senyshyn (two-way forward) are now part of B’s nation. Boston addressed three needs by drafting these three guys all at different positions.
At the end of the day, Sweeney and the rest of the B’s organization are going in a different direction…and they obviously believe in their convictions. With Carl Soderberg officially signing a long-term deal with the Colorado Avalanche, are these the kids that are expected to step in and replace the lost veterans? No, not yet at least.
The level of complacency that was shown on the first day of the draft was mind-boggling. The day had such promise with the metaphorical “house cleaning” that took place on the roster. However, the benefit of the doubt should be considered here. There is no question that the gentlemen in management were trying everything in their power to come through with a splash. Unfortunately, no takers.
Free agency officially begins on July 1st, the second opportunity to turn a franchise around. The Bruins should be players come next week with the shredding of salaries and creating some cap flexibility.
Silver lining? Let’s go with that. It is all we have at this point.