How Each Offseason Addition and Departure Will Affect Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins made several changes to their lineup after losing in this year's Stanley Cup Final. They made a blockbuster trade, let some free agents walk and signed some new faces as well.
Now that the bulk of free agency is over, how did the Bruins do? Will their lineup be better than the one they put on the ice this past season? How will the Tyler Seguin trade affect them?
Here is a look at how each addition and subtraction will affect the B's in the 2013-14 season.
The Loss of Tyler Seguin Benefits Team Chemistry
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The Bruins made fireworks on the Fourth of July when they traded Tyler Seguin, who was taken No. 2 overall in 2010, to the Dallas Stars for Loui Eriksson. Rich Peverley was also included in the deal.
Seguin, a speedy center who led the team in scoring in 2011-12 with 67 points, fell out of favor with GM Peter Chiarelli as the season wound down. There were reports that Seguin wasn't taking his job seriously, and that he was too much of a partier. On top of that, he wasn't producing on the score sheet.
Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald reported that things got so bad between Seguin and the Bruins that he was ordered to stay in a hotel room in Boston, with security making sure he behaved himself.
The loss of Seguin will have two consequences. First, Boston loses speed. Seguin was the fastest skater wearing black and yellow and was a good contrast to the other forwards who are known for being big and bruising (i.e., Milan Lucic). Eriksson is quick, but he's not as fast as Seguin. Second, it improves team chemistry, which is exactly why he was dealt. The Bruins are a tightly run ship, and anyone who has the chance to go overboard won't be asked back for next year's cruise. Without Seguin, there won't be media members asking Claude Julien and captain Zdeno Chara about the antics of any player, which will allow the team to focus more.
Once the reports about Seguin's antics were made public, there was no turning back. There would have been a dark cloud hanging over TD Garden if nothing was done. The trade had to be completed.
Eriksson Will Be a Top-Six Forward
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Loui Eriksson left Big D for Beantown to compete for a Stanley Cup. This was the perfect replacement for Seguin because in addition to his playmaking, Eriksson is known for being a professional, according to Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe.
Eriksson's best statistical season came in 2010-11, when he had 73 points, including 10 goals on the power play. He's a strong two-way forward, with better defensive skills than Seguin had. Boston's strength under the tenure of Claude Julien has been defense, and Eriksson will only add to that.
Eriksson told Shinzawa about the style of coaching he will be joining:
“I’ve been through a lot of coaches,” Eriksson said. “It will be nice to find one that fits your style. It was tough the last couple years. We were changing coaches almost every second year. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the coach in Boston. I’m really looking forward to coming there to show I can play some good hockey too.”
Fluto Shinzawa also reports the former alternate captain of the Stars is expected to be on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
That will be one tough line to compete against, three strong defensive forwards who can all put the puck in the net. If Eriksson can develop chemistry with those two, the Northeast Division should look out.
The loss of Seguin hurt them in terms of skating, but Eriksson is a more than adequate replacement. He's a better locker room guy, and his passing is head-and-shoulders above Seguin's. Eriksson's addition to the lineup will be welcomed by the fans.
Iginla Brings Veteran Presence to Lineup
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After spurning Boston at the trade deadline, Jarome Iginla is finally in Boston.
Iginla, who scored at least 30 goals in 11 straight seasons before this past lockout-shortened tilt, will provide grit and scoring for the lineup, much like Nathan Horton did.
He will most likely start out on the top line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci, according to Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe.
Iginla will be on the power play and is always willing to stand up for his teammates. Expect him to drop the gloves four or five times next season.
More importantly, he brings leadership to the locker room and will be a mentor to the younger players on the ice. He wants the Stanley Cup badly and will play in whatever role the team needs him to in order to lift the Cup.
This was a great signing by Chiarelli, and Bruins fans shouldn't hold a grudge against him for playing for Pittsburgh. He's a Bruin now and should be welcomed into the family.
Horton's Departure Negated by Signing of Iginla
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When the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that Nathan Horton signed a seven-year deal with the club, Bruins fans weren't surprised. He had told Boston he was going to test the free-agent market and most likely wouldn't return to the club.
Horton was a big part of the B's run to the Stanley Cup in 2011. Before getting injured against the Canucks, he scored two series-winning goals. (He beat Carey Price in overtime to eliminate Montreal in the first round and shoveled the puck past Dwayne Roloson to break a scoreless tie in the third period against the Lightning in the Game 7 Eastern Conference Final.)
But luckily for Boston, the addition of Iginla is enough to replace Horton. The two wingers play similar styles, with a mix of tough, physical play as well as skill and a scoring touch.
It was clear Horton wanted to get paid, and if he re-signed with Boston for less money than he would have gotten elsewhere, he wouldn't have been all in.
But we know that Iginla is. Bruins fans know all Iginla wants is the Cup, and the franchise made the right move in letting Horton go and adding Iggy.
While it may have seemed like a big loss when Horton left, it really isn't. Iginla does the same things as Horton, and he cost the team a lot less money. The Bruins made the right move in this case.
Andrew Ference Will Be Missed
The Bruins couldn't afford to keep Ference, and he signed with his hometown Edmonton Oilers as a result.
The 34-year-old former alternate captain of the B's provided leadership and grit for Boston, and the two youngsters (Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug) who will be charged with replacing him don't have either.
After breaking his foot in the first round against Toronto, Ference came back in the Pittsburgh series and played on the No. 2 defensive pairing with Johnny Boychuk for the remainder of the playoffs. He scored the game-winning goal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against Chicago to even the series at one game apiece.
Sure, Krug had a nice run against the Rangers in which he scored his four goals in his first five playoff games, but he wasn't as steady as the playoffs wore on. Young defensemen are always a liability, and the defensive corps of Boston is clearly getting younger.
The Bruins will miss the steady play of Ference next year as their young defensemen adjust to the everyday grind of being in the NHL.