This is a compilation of the Boston Bruins’ top acquisitions via trade or free agency of all time. All of these players had an impact on the franchise, but not all of them resulted in championships.
These players skated for the Bruins for many years or a short while. However, they are listed here because they all helped the Boston Bruins for the better during their stay.
Oates had a stellar career with Detroit and St. Louis prior to coming to Boston. In St. Louis, he was paired up with sniper Brett Hull. They were one of the most feared tandems in the game. Hull had three straight seasons with at least 70 goals and Oates was feeding him the puck.
The Blues dealt Adam Oates to the Bruins after a prolonged hold out. Saint Louis would get pivot man Craig Janney and defenseman, Stephane Quintal in return.
Boston’s management probably had the images of Oates feeding Neely as he did with Hull. However, that dream never came to fruition due to Neely’s injuries.
With Neely sidelined, Oates became a better all around offensive player. In ’92-’93, he had his best career scoring season. Oates posted 45 goals and 97 assists for 142 points which was good for third in the NHL (Mario Lemieux and Pat Lafontaine finished first and second respectively).The Bruins finished with the best record in the league but got swept in the first round of the playoffs.
Oates had another great season in ’93-’94 season when he finished third in the NHL yet again with 112 points. Oates had 53 points in the lock out season of ’94-’95 and finished his tenure in Boston with two more 70-point-plus seasons.
The Bruins were going with a youth movement and traded Oates on March 1, 1997 to the Washington Capitals with Bill Ranford and Rick Tocchet for Jim Carey, Anson Carter, and Jason Allison. The players the Bruins got in return had sparks of greatness but never had the consistent numbers of Adam Oates. He shouldered the offensive load during his stay in Boston especially with the injuries to Cam Neely.
His journey to the Bruins has been long to say the least. Thomas was originally drafted in 1994 by the Quebec Nordiques after graduating from the University of Vermont. He spent the early stages of his career playing in the minor leagues and in Europe.
In 2006-2007, Thomas took over the starting job posting a 30-29 record with a 3.13 GAA. Thomas has become a fixture between the pipes ever since. In the 2007-2008 season, he recorded a 28-19-6 record with a 2.44 GAA and helped the Bruins return to the playoffs.
Thomas had his best career season in 2008-2009, when he posted a 36-11-7 record with a league low 2.10 GAA. His play catapulted the Bruins to the top of the Eastern Conference and to their first playoff series win in almost a decade (he went 7-4 in the playoffs with a microscopic 1.85 GAA).
Thomas took home the Vezina trophy as the best goalie in the NHL in 2009. Not bad for a guy who was on the scrap heap? He is been a constant for the Bruins who have adopted a strong defensive strategy under coach, Claude Julien.
Savard was signed as a free agent from the Atlanta Thrashers after the 2005-2006 season. He was coming off his best career year scoring 28 goals and 69 helpers for 97 points.
The Bruins landed the highly touted free agent and signed him to a four-year deal. Savard made an instant impact with his new club. In his first season as a Bruin, Savard had 96 points and his 74 assists were good for third in the NHL.
In only 74 games in 2007-2008, he scored 78 points which led the team in scoring again. The following year, Savard was healthy and it showed.
He was on top of the stat sheet yet again for the Bruins. Savard had 88 points in the 2008-2009 season. The Bruins finished first in the Eastern Conference and won their first playoff series in 10 years.
Marc Savard has been worth every dollar of his first contract. He has been the top offensive threat for Boston since his arrival and management has awarded him. Savard just inked a seven-year extension to stay in the hub of hockey.
Park was drafted by the NY Rangers No. 2 overall in the 1966 draft. He was a top defenseman for the club from 1968 to 1975 averaging 53 points per season.
The Rangers were suffering through one of their worst seasons in 10 years and began to clean house during the ’75-’76 season. Park, Jean Ratelle, and a minor leaguer, Joe Zanussi were traded to Boston for prolific scorer, Phil Esposito and defenseman, Carol Vadnais.
Esposito and Vadnais played well for the Rangers but the team was still at the bottom of the standings. However, Park and Ratelle helped kickstart the Bruins and rejuvenated the franchise. Brad Park was looked as the heir apparent to Bobby Orr which could have been unfair. No one is Orr, but Park filled the void nicely.
The Bruins would go on to win three divisions titles led by Park and Coach Don Cherry from 1977-1979. The Bruins would make two Stanley Cup appearances during that time, but would fall to the hated Canadiens.
Park’s best season was in 1978 when he recorded 79 points. He had his share of injuries as he got older, but he provided some memories. His most memorable was his seventh game overtime goal to beat Buffalo in the ’83 playoffs. Brad Park was then traded to the Red Wings the following year, but he made his mark in Beantown.
Drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the seventh round in 1980, Moog was part of a dynamic goaltending duo with Grant Fuhr. He led Edmonton to the Cup finals in 1983 but the Oilers were swept by the Islanders. Oilers GM, Glen Sather, chose to go with Grant Fuhr the following year.
Moog won Stanley Cups backing up Fuhr but his play was drastically cut. He became expendable.
The Bruins traded goalie, Bill Ranford to the Oilers for Moog at the ’87-’88 trading deadline. Moog had a goal keeping partner in Boston as well. He was teamed up with Reggie Lemelin.
Both goaltenders played well in their roles and as the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1988 and 1990. The duo would help the Bruins capture the President’s trophy for the most points/best team record in the NHL during the ’90 season.
Moog would gain a reputation as a “Hab” killer for his play against long time rival Montreal. He beat them in the ’91 and ’92 playoffs leading the Bruins to the Conference Finals both those years. The Bruins would succumb to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion, Pittsburgh Penguins.
Moog didn’t have eye popping numbers in Boston but performed when it mattered, in the playoffs.
Middleton was drafted in the first round by the New York Rangers in 1973 (14th overall). After two seasons with NY, where he averaged 45 points, he was shipped to the Bruins for the aging Kenny Hodge.
This trade could be considered one of the most lop sided in Bruins history. Hodge would only play one plus seasons with New York. Middleton, on the other hand, would have a long and stoic career with the Boston Bruins.
Middleton would play for the Spoked B from 1976-1987. He would score 402 goals and add 496 assists. Middleton was a forty goal scorer four times and potted 51 in the 1981-1982 campaign. He also holds the team record for the most points by a right winger with a 105 points in ’83-’84.
Rick Middleton was also chosen as Co-Captain along with Ray Bourque in 1985 upon the retirement of Terry O’Reilly which he held until his retirement in 1987. “Nifty” as he was nicknamed was indeed just that. He brought a scoring touch, grit, and leadership to Boston for over 10 years.
“Z” was drafted by the New York Islanders 56th overall in the 1996 draft. He spent four seasons in NY before being traded Ottawa for Alexi Yashin.
He flourished in Ottawa becoming an elite defenseman with a scoring punch and booming shot. Chara averaged about 35 points a season with Ottawa over his four seasons as a Senator.
The Bruins signed Chara to a five year free agent deal in 2006. Ever since Chara has sported the Spoked B, he has been the best defenseman and leader since Ray Bourque left for Colorado in 2000.
His game rose in Boston. He was making the All Star game on an annual basis and was considered one of the top ten defensemen in the league. His presence was always felt on ice either by his physical play or his 100+ mph slap shot.
The 2008-2009 season was Chara’s best. He helped propel the Bruins to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. He recorded 50 points including career high 19 goals. “Z” also captured the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman.
This could be the best free agent signing in team history. The Bruins were able to acquire an elite defenseman, a leader, a captain, and a physical force all at once.
Neely was chosen ninth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1983 draft. Cam Neely was a young player who was physical and could put the puck in the net. He was the prototype power forward.
He averaged about 16 goals over his three seasons as a Canuck. The Bruins then made one of the most one sided trades in NHL history prior to the ’83-’84 season. Boston sent over gifted center Barry Pederson, who scored over 100 points twice by age 25, for Cam Neely and a pick which would become defenseman, Glen Wesley.
Neely made an instant impact. In his first season with the Bruins, the rugged winner recorded 36 goals (which led the Bruins) and 36 assists. He also added over 140 PIM’s which showed that he wasn't afraid to be physical.
Cam Neely continued his elite play. In the ’87-’88 season, he broke the 40 goal plateau for the first time in his career as he helped the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals.
He was an integral part of the Bruins team who reached the Stanley Cup Finals again in ’89-’90. Neely scored a career high 55 goals and 92 points.
The following year, Neely had another stellar year with 51 goals. However, he suffered a knee injury at the hands of Ulf Samuelsson which restricted him to play no more than 49 games a season from 1991 to 1996. Cam Neely had one more magical run when he scored 50 goals in 49 games during the ’93-’94 season. He finished his Bruins career with 395 goals and 299 assists.
This trade had a dramatic impact on the franchise. Neely was the dominant sniper and physical presence that enabled the Bruins to become an elite franchise in the late '80s and early '90s.
Phil Esposito signed with the Chicago Blackhawks fresh out of junior hockey in 1962. He made his NHL debut in 1964 centering Blackhawks great, Bobby Hull. “Espo” proved himself to be a playmaker as he averaged over 50 points in each of his three years with Chicago.
In 1967, Esposito along with Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield were sent to Boston for Pit Martin, Jack Norris and Gilles Marotte. This trade would lay down the ground work for the Big Bad Bruins of the 1970’s. Esposito, Hodge, and Stanfield were all major contributors to Boston’s Stanley Cup runs in 1970 and 1972.
Esposito’s game would reach superstar heights. In eight plus seasons with the Black and Gold, Phil broke the 100 point plateau six times. He led the NHL in scoring in ‘69, ‘71, ‘72, ‘73, and ‘74. “Espo” led the league in goals for six straight seasons. His career high was 76 goals in 1970-71.
With likes of Ken Hodge, Johnny Bucyk, Bobby Orr, and Phil Esposito, the Bruins captured the Cup in ’70 and ’72. They could have one a few more if the puck bounced their way. Phil Esposito was an offensive juggernaut of a NHL dynasty.
Phil Esposito was then a key component of a trade to the NY Rangers during the ’75-’76 season which brought Brad Park to Boston. Park helped the Bruins become competitive again in the late '70s.
Bourque was drafted by the Boston Bruins with a first round draft pick acquired in a trade with the Kings for goalie Ron Grahame. Grahame had only played one season for the Bruins before the move.
Bourque continued the long legacy of great defenseman that wore the Black and Gold of the Boston Bruins. You had Bobby Orr, Brad Park, and now Bourque was ready to grab the torch. Raymond Bourque showed signs of greatness from the get go.
Bourque won the Rookie of Year in 1979 and an all star. Throughout his career he posted solid numbers and was considered an elite defensemen. He also was recognized for his leadership and was named team captain in 1985 which he held until his trade to Colorado in 2000.
He won the Norris Trophy presented to best NHL defenseman five times. Bourque is third all time in plus/minus behind Larry Robinson and former Bruin, Bobby Orr. He could also score. Bourque is only the sixth defenseman in history to score 30 goals in a season (1984).
Bourque was the face of the Bruins since his rookie year. He played with grit, determination and an undying passion throughout his whole career. However, something was still missing for him.
A Stanley Cup.
He came close in ’88 and ’90 but fell short. Bruins management honored his request to be traded to a contender in the 2000-2001 season. On Mar. 6, 2000, Bourque was traded to Colorado with fellow veteran Dave Andreychuk for Brian Rolston, Martin Grenier, Samuel Påhlsson and a first round draft pick (terrible trade for the Bruins). The Avs fell short but won the Cup the following year.
Bourque’s resume was complete.
The trade with LA has to be considered the best trade in franchise history, hands down. The Bruins gave up virtually nothing to acquire a future elite defensemen and Hall of Famer.