Grading the Top Offseason Moves for the Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins have had an interesting offseason to date, and the front office has been rather aggressive. Some players such as Dougie Hamilton have been shipped out of town, and others such as Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes bring their talents to Boston looking to lead the Bruins back to the playoffs.
The Bruins have been a bit quiet after getting off to a fast and furious start, but there's still a chance new general manager Don Sweeney wheels and deals some more before opening night in October.
With that in mind, here is a look at some of the Bruins' top offseason moves to date.
Bruins Trade Reilly Smith and Contract of Marc Savard
The Bruins became the latest team to take advantage of a loophole that allows the trading of dead contracts, and by doing so, they acquired a very good young player in the process.
Boston acquired former Boston College star and Dorchester native Jimmy Hayes in exchange for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard's contract.
Smith is a 24-year-old forward who tallied 33 goals and 58 assists for 91 points in 163 games with the Bruins, but he wasn't a fit for the physical style Boston wants to play.
Hayes will be a natural fit as a 6'6" winger who comes in at 221 pounds, and he has a chance to fill the void left by Milan Lucic if he lives up to his potential.
The Bruins are huge winners for getting rid of Savard's contract, and they got a pretty nice player as well. The ex-Panther scored 19 goals and added 16 assists for 35 points in 72 games last season, and he got stronger as the season went on.
Hayes has promise and potential, and with more ice time in Boston, he could be a 50-point player in 2015-16.
The Bruins quickly locked him up to a contract extension that pays him $2.3 million a season for the next three years. That is quite the bargain and cheaper than what it would have been to keep Smith around for the immediate future.
Signing of Matt Beleskey
The Bruins nabbed Matt Beleskey in free agency, and the deal was a lot more reasonable than most expected it would be. The 27-year-old winger signed a five-year deal worth $19 million, so he will cost a mere $3.8 million against the salary cap.
The former Anaheim Duck is coming off a season in which he recorded a career-best 22 goals and 32 points, and it will be interesting to see what type of success he has in Boston.
Beleskey comes into Boston as a wild card because his 2014-15 season was a career year made possible by playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
He is a talented player who should be able to have success with centers Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci, and his contract is very affordable when you consider he was a top target on the free-agent market.
Dougie Hamilton Traded to Calgary Flames
The Bruins made the shocking decision to trade top defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames just hours ahead of the 2015 draft. There were concerns that the prized rearguard would become the target of an offer sheet, so Hamilton was shipped off to Alberta for picks No. 15, 45 and 52 in the 2015 draft.
The Flames went on to sign Hamilton to a contract extension worth $34.5 million over six seasons, and he will earn $5.75 million a year for his troubles.
According to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, the Bruins offered a contract that would have paid him $5.5 million a year for six seasons, so there may be validity to the thought that he wanted out of Boston.
The Bruins were afraid to lose Hamilton via an offer sheet, but that doesn't mean you give him away for pennies on the dollar.
Though Boston was in a tough spot, it could have done better than a first-round pick and two second-rounders. It would have made even more sense to pay him what he is worth because he's already illustrated that he has the makings of an All-Star defender.
Boston had more options at its disposal and simply let fear and doubt creep into the decision-making process with Hamilton.
There had to be a team out there willing to offer something of value, and getting back a lesser NHL-ready defender in the trade would have at least softened the blow.
Milan Lucic Trade
Milan Lucic is set to become a free agent on July 1, 2016, and he certainly will be in a position to earn another big contract.
The Bruins dealt their top power forward ($2.75 million retained) to Los Angeles for the No. 13 overall pick in 2015, Martin Jones and prospect Colin Miller, and from their perspective, it made more sense than holding on to him and auctioning him off at the trade deadline.
The strategy proved to be effective within hours of finalizing the deal, as the Bruins flipped Jones to San Jose for a 2016 first-round pick and prospect Sean Kuraly before the goaltender could even exit the California border.
This is a trade that made sense because Lucic was likely a goner at the end of the season. He is a depreciating asset as an aging power forward who already has a lot of miles on his body.
Dealing him before the draft allowed the Bruins to add an extra first-round pick, and that led to some flexibility once it was time for Boston to make its picks. In addition to the picks, the Bruins were able to add a blueliner after trading Hamilton.
Colin Miller is a defender who should be in the Bruins' top six this season, and his upside may help soften the pain caused by dealing a franchise rearguard like Hamilton.
The Bruins' newest prospect is known for a booming slap shot, and the 22-year-old finished the 2014-15 AHL season with 19 goals, 33 assists and 52 points. That total was good for second among AHL defenders.
It is interesting that the Kings were willing to give him up, especially when you consider their need for defenders.
General Manager Swap of Peter Chiarelli for Don Sweeney
The Bruins primarily fired Peter Chiarelli for failing to make the playoffs in 2014-15, and it can be said that some of his negotiations put Boston in salary-cap hell.
It could also be said that axing Chiarelli was a rash decision, and it might have made sense to give him the summer to retool the roster.
Boston's powers that be opted to cut ties with the current general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, hiring Don Sweeney is his place. Sweeney certainly has made his mark on the franchise, and as you have seen in the previous slides, his deals have had mixed results.
The logic here is that the move has been slightly better than average at best for now.
Chiarelli was a pretty good GM for Boston, but some of his contracts were brutal. Sweeney has been able to undo some of the effects of these deals by freeing up cap space in exchange for draft picks and prospects, but the impact of his decisions will not be fully known for quite some time.
While you would think that the Bruins as a team are going to be worse without players such as Hamilton and Lucic, Sweeney has found a way to add some players who—in conjunction with prospects and draft picks—should make the team stronger in the coming years.
Though the Bruins are shaping up to be slightly worse in 2015-16 than they were in 2014-15, the moves made put them in a position to be successful in the future.
The additions of Miller, Hayes, Beleskey, Matt Irwin and assorted others are good and well, but the loss of Hamilton is tremendous. Lucic’s departure may be felt at some point, but Boston got good value and made subsequent additions to compensate for it.
It would have been nice if the Bruins had taken advantage of their additional picks at the draft—especially when you consider they picked Zach Senyshyn, who would have likely been available if they had traded down.
It is too early to see how everything is going to shake out, but the fact remains that the blue line is less than optimal without a long-term replacement for an aging Zdeno Chara.
Offensively, the Bruins added players who should round out the team, and you would think that a full season for David Pastrnak (27 points in 46 games in 2014-15) will help.
Tuukka Rask is the Bruins' saving grace because the netminder has shown the ability to steal games when needed. The Bruins could end up surprising a lot of people this season, and it will be interesting to see if any other moves are made before the start of the campaign.