Why Less Is More for the Boston Bruins This Offseason
The Boston Bruins don't have a Stanley Cup championship to look back on as they prepare to start of training camp.
There are no celebrations this summer and no tales of travels with Lord Stanley's Cup. There will be no talk of hangovers and a short summer vacation.
For the Bruins, a first-round playoff loser to the Washington Capitals, it's back to business as usual.
Except there's one small difference. While most teams were scrambling to sign free agents or hold on to their own, the Bruins basically stood pat. They were basically satisfied with the core of their team and they did not make big moves for free agents like Zach Parise or Ryan Suter.
General manager Peter Chiarelli has proven during his run with the Bruins that he understands the game and will work hard to make the team better whether it's in the offseason or prior to the trade deadline in the middle of the year.
But aside from re-signing head coach Claude Julien to a contract extension (source: Boston Herald) and moving Benoit Pouliot to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Chiarelli has done very little.
Instead of checking into the Bruins' administrative offices, Chiarelli could have plopped himself on his hammock and sipped lemonade, for all we know.
That's not what happened.
Chiarelli knew exactly what kind of team the Bruins had and how deep the roster was. Instead of making moves for the sake of making moves so media members could say how "active" the team was, Chiarelli came to the conclusion that there was sufficient strength on the roster and in the minor-league system that big-time free-agent moves weren't necessary.
If the Bruins had made trades and signings, it might have impacted the core of the team in a way that Chiarelli did not want to.
Less, in this case, was more.
Less means keeping the core of the team intact. Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Dennis Seidenberg and Rich Peverley will all be back. Young stud Tyler Seguin will be the team's cover boy. He may not be the best all-around player on the team, but he is its most exciting offensive star.
There's another youngster who is ready to join him this season. The Bruins have another potential blueline star in Dougie Hamilton, who is ready to make the jump to the big club. Hamilton was the team's first-round pick in 2011 and he has met all expectations in his development to this point.
It would be a big surprise if Hamilton was not one of the top rookies in the NHL this season.
Chiarelli could not completely rest on his laurels this offseason. Shortly after the Bruins dropped their first-round matchup to the upset-minded Capitals, goalie Tim Thomas announced that he was taking the 2012-13 year off.
While the decision was unexpected, the Bruins believe they are prepared for the hiatus because they have a potential All-Star goalie in Tuukka Rask ready to step in. Rask has been the goalie in waiting for several years and he had to take over No. 1 duties in 2009-10 when a hip injury prevented him from playing his best game and eventually sidelined him.
Rask had excellent numbers that season with a 1.97 goals against average and a .931 save percentage, but the year ended on a painful note when the Bruins lost their second-round playoff series to the Flyers by dropping the final four games after winning the first three.
Should the Bruins have made more moves in the offseason?
Rask has every chance to be an excellent goalie, but he still has to prove that he can be a solid No. 1 from start to finish.
On the same front, Anton Khudobin must show he can be a solid No. 2 goalie. He has skills, but he is quite unproven at this point.
The Bruins go into the season as a clear division favorite. But finishing in first place in the Northeast Division will not satisfy Chiarelli, Julien, the players, ownership or the Bruins' fans.
They tasted champagne just two years ago and they want more. Chiarelli's less-is-more approach appears to have given the Bruins a roster that is fully capable of competing for the NHL title again.
There may be some uh-oh moments along the way, but that's what the trade deadline is for and that's when Chiarelli will fine-tune the roster and bring the team up to speed, if that's what is demanded.
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