Offseason Analysis: BOSTON BRUINS

Boston Bruins

BOSTON BRUINS: 2014-2015 By the Numbers

Overall Record: 41-27-14-96
Home Record: 24-10-7
Away Record: 17-17-7
Shootout Record: 4-10
Playoff Result: Did not make the playoffs
Standings: Atlantic Division: 5, Eastern Conference: 9, League: 17
Goals For: 209 (NHL rank: 22)
Goals Against: 201 (NHL rank: 23)
Power Play Percentage: 17.8 percent (NHL rank: 18)
Penalty Kill Percentage: 82 percent (NHL rank: 12)
Leading Scorer: Patrice Bergeron (23-32-55)
 

2015-2016 Outlook:

The Bruins missed the playoffs by three points, with the race coming down to the final day of the regular season. Though the team was not its typical dominant self over the course of the regular season, the team fought through a lot of adversity and remained competitive all season. The Bruins were one of the most active teams this offseason, completing seven trades and accumulating three consecutive first-round draft picks in this year’s draft. Though the team will be without five of last year’s 12 forwards (Milan Lucic, Carl Soderberg, Reilly Smith, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell), the Bruins added several talented players and stocked the system with fresh young talent. It may be difficult for all of the roster changes to come together quickly enough for the Bruins to mount a playoff run this year, but the team is still in good shape and should continue to be considered a contender for many years to come.
 

Remaining Preseason Game: Bruins @ Capitals, Friday 10/2 at 7pm EST

Offseason Overview

Trades:

  • Rights to F Carl Soderberg to Colorado for 2016 6th-round pick
  • F Milan Lucic (with $2.75 million salary retained) to Los Angeles for 2015 1st-round pick (13), G Martin Jones and D Colin Miller
  • D Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for 2015 1st-round pick (15) and two 2015 2nd-round picks (45, 52)
  • 2017 3rd-round pick to Philadelphia for F Zac Rinaldo
  • G Martin Jones to San Jose for 2016 1st-round pick and F Sean Kuraly
  • F Reilly Smith and F Marc Savard to Florida for rights to F Jimmy Hayes
  • 2015 5th-round pick (135) to Minnesota for 2016 5th-round pick

Re-Signed:

  • D Chris Breen (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • F Brett Connolly (1-year contract at $1.025 million)
  • F Jimmy Hayes (3-year deal with AAV* of $2.3 million)
  • D Adam McQuaid (4-year deal with AAV* of $2.75 million)
  • F Anton Blidh (3-year ELC with AAV* of $784,166)
  • F Tyler Randell (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • D Tommy Cross (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • G Zane McIntyre (2-year ELC with AAV* of $925,000)
  • F Ryan Spooner (2-year deal with AAV* of $950,0000
  • G Jeremy Smith (1-year contract at $600,000)
  • D Jakub Zboril (3-year ELC with AAV* of $925,000)
  • D Brandon Carlo (3-year ELC with AAV* of $925,000)

Free Agents Signed:

  • F Matt Beleskey (5-year deal with AAV* of $3.8 million)
  • F Brandon DeFazio (1-year contract at $575,000)
  • D Matt Irwin (1-year contract at $800,000)
  • F Joonas Kemppainen (1-year contract at $792,500)
  • F Noel Acciari (2-year deal with AAV* of $792,500)
  • F Andrew Cherniwchan–PTO
  • F Eric Neiley–PTO
  • G Matt Ginn–PTO
  • D Max Everson–PTO
  • D Max Iafrate–PTO
  • G Jonas Gustavsson–PTO

Draft Recap:

  • Round 1 (13) D Jakub Zboril
  • Round 1 (14) LW Jake DeBrusk
  • Round 1 (15) RW Zach Senyshyn
  • Round 2 (37) D Brandon Carlo
  • Round 2 (45) C Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson
  • Round 2 (52) D Jeremy Lauzon
  • Round 3 (75) G Dan Vladar
  • Round 4 (105) LW Jesse Gabrielle
  • Round 6 (165) C Cameron Hughes
  • Round 7 (195) C Jack Becker

Notable Extensions:
None

Free Agents Lost:

  • D Matt Bartkowski–Vancouver
  • F Matt Lindblad–New York Rangers
  • F Gregory Campbell–Columbus
  • F Justin Florek–New York Islanders
  • F Rob Flick–Florida
  • F Paul Carey–Washington
  • D Jiri Slegr–retired
  • G Niklas Svedberg–Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL-Russia)
  • F Bobby Robins–retired
  • F Daniel Paille–PTO (Chicago)
  • G Adam Morrison–UFA
  • D David Warsofsky–Pittsburgh

Buyouts:
None

Organizational Changes:

  • Fired general manager Peter Chiarelli
  • Promoted assistant general manager Don Sweeney to general manager

 
*AAV=Average Annual Value (cap hit)
 

Significant Moves

Here are the most significant moves the Bruins have made this offseason, and how they will affect this upcoming season:

  1. Trading Milan Lucic:
  2. lucic

    Bruce Bennett-Getty Images


    lucic

    Dominick Reuter-Reuters


    Though there were rumors that it might be possible, the Bruins certainly sent a few shockwaves through the hockey world by trading Milan Lucic, one of the Bruins’ most popular and most heart-and-soul players. The Bruins traded Lucic, retaining $2.75 million on the last year of his 3-year $18 million contract, to Los Angeles in exchange for the Kings’ 2015 1st-round pick (13), backup goalie Martin Jones and defensive prospect Colin Miller. The team later traded Jones to San Jose for a 1st-round pick in 2016 and forward prospect Sean Kuraly.

    Lucic’s numbers were down last year, like those of most Bruins forwards. He scored a total of 44 points last year (18 goals, 26 assists) compared to multiple 60-point seasons over the past several years (he scored 62 points in 2010-2011, 61 in 2011-2012 and 59 in 2013-2014). Though the Bruins barely missed the playoffs last year, the team looked nothing like the Bruins from the past several years and struggled offensively on a consistent basis. This move demonstrates the fact that Boston was either unwilling or uninterested in signing Lucic to a long-term extension after this season; it’s also possible Boston knew that Lucic might not want to stay in Boston long-term, though that seems unlikely based on the way Lucic thrived in Boston. The Bruins were able to acquire a mid-level 1st-round draft pick along with a valuable backup goalie and a prospect. The salary retention was something the Bruins added to the deal to get it done, since the Kings are also very close to the cap ceiling; however, considering Lucic’s contract expires at the end of this season, this is not a concern for Boston and will not inhibit the team’s ability to improve moving forward. Though Lucic was not the only Bruin to struggle last season, he was one of many familiar faces who will not wear the spoked B next season. The additions of Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey should make up for some of the grit and toughness Lucic brought to every game, but Lucic’s playoff presence could be sorely missed in the future.
     

  3. Signing Matt Beleskey:
  4. beleskey

    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


    One of the most sought-after free agents this offseason was winger Matt Beleskey, whom the Bruins signed to a 5-year $19 million deal on day one of free agency. Though the hype surrounding Beleskey may have been overkill, the $3.8 million cap hit the Bruins were able to arrange was certainly lower than most expected of Beleskey’s contract.

    Beleskey, drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 4th round (112) of the 2006 draft, has 112 points in 329 career NHL games, all with the Ducks. Beleskey had his most productive season last year, scoring 32 points (22 goals, 10 assists) in 65 games; he followed that up with 8 goals and an assist in 16 playoff games. Not including the 2008-2009 season in which he only played two games, over the past six seasons Beleskey has scored 18, 10, 15, 13, 24 and 32 points, respectively. These numbers certainly don’t shout superstar free agent, but Beleskey’s physical and all-around game was appealing to many teams, including the Ducks, who were unable to negotiate a deal to keep him. The Bruins won the Beleskey “sweepstakes” but were able to sign him to a reasonable deal without overpaying, which is typical of free agency, especially day one. Beleskey will add grit and finesse to the Bruins lineup, and he is hopeful to build on last year’s performance, the most successful season of his career. This was a decent signing for the Bruins, though Beleskey has never played a complete season and may regress if the Bruins are unable to improve the team’s lackluster offensive output from a season ago.
     

  5. Trading Smith and Savard’s contract for rights to Hayes:
  6. smith

    Reilly Smith
    USA TODAY Sports


    hayes

    Jimmy Hayes
    via thehockeywriters.com


    The Bruins were very active on day one of free agency, as the team also traded right winger Reilly Smith and the contract of Marc Savard to the Florida Panthers in exchange for the rights to right winger Jimmy Hayes. The Bruins then signed Hayes to a 3-year deal with an average annual value of $2.3 million. This was a solid deal for the Bruins.

    Firstly, the team can unload the contract of Marc Savard. Though Savard would be put on LTIR at the start of the season, it gives the Bruins more flexibility in the offseason to not have to worry about Savard’s $4.03 million cap hit. On the flip side, Florida can take on Savard’s contract, originally a 7-year $28.15 million contract, to help the team reach the salary cap floor with the $4.03 million cap hit this year and next year; however, the team will only have to pay $575,000 in salary.

    The move also saved the Bruins $1.125 million in cap space for the next two seasons, as Smith’s cap hit is $3.425 million compared to Hayes’ $2.3 million.

    Smith, drafted by Dallas in the third round (69) in the 2009 draft, has been with the Bruins for the past two seasons after being acquired as part of the Tyler Seguin deal. Though Smith had an excellent season in 2013-2014 (20-31-51), excelling on a line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, his numbers dropped last season (13-27-40) and he was not as effective. In 12 playoff games with the Bruins, Smith scored 5 points (4 goals and 1 assist). In 203 career NHL games, Smith has scored 36 goals and 64 assists for a total of 100 points.

    Hayes, on the other hand, was originally drafted by Toronto in the second round (60) in the 2008 draft. In the past two seasons with Florida, Hayes has scored 18 points and 35 points, respectively; however, he only played in 53 games in 2013-2014 and 72 games last season. Hayes, a Boston native, adds considerable size to the Bruins’ lineup with his 6’5″, 215 lb. frame. In 168 career games, Hayes has accumulated 66 points (36 goals, 30 assists).

    Though the two forwards are both talented right wingers capable of playing top-six minutes, Hayes will make up for some of the size and grit lost in the Milan Lucic trade.
     

  7. Losing Dougie Hamilton:
  8. hamilton

    Dougie Hamilton
    Jared Wickerham-Getty Images


    The Boston Bruins rocked the hockey world by pulling off a shocking draft-day deal that sent restricted free-agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for three draft picks (Toronto’s first-round pick, number 15 overall, and two second-round picks, numbers 45 and 52). The Bruins made several offers to Hamilton’s camp but were unable to reach an agreement. It is likely that because the draft was soon approaching the Bruins decided to make such a bold trade somewhat spontaneously in order to get the best return for Hamilton even if the team may have been approached with stronger offers had the team waited. In any case, the cap-straddled Bruins were forced to move Hamilton, though it’s unclear if Hamilton would have accepted any deal that would have kept him in Boston for six or seven years. Hamilton signed a six-year $34.5 million extension with Calgary shortly after the trade.

    There is no way that Boston’s management would give up easily on such a talented and valuable asset. Most teams were not even aware that Hamilton was even available, and several general managers expressed that they would have made offers had they known. Not only was the move a shocking trade, but it was step one in a day of startling trades made by the Bruins on draft day, which led to the Bruins possessing three consecutive picks in the first round (13, 14, 15).

    The Bruins will greatly miss Dougie Hamilton this year and for many years to come. Since being selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft, Hamilton has developed into a solid, dependable two-way defenseman. Playing alongside Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has certainly helped Hamilton’s development in all aspects of the game. Spanning his three-year career, Hamilton has accrued 83 points in 178 games (22-61-83) and 10 points in 19 playoff games (2-8-10). Last season, Hamilton, 22, reached career highs in goals, assists and points (10-32-42) in 72 games.

    It is quite possible that Boston was backed into a corner and had no choice but to trade him. Could there have been better offers out there? Yes. But the Bruins made a collection of moves that changed the face of the franchise while setting Boston up with a lot of talented young players for the future. Hopefully newly-named Bruins general manager Don Sweeney salvaged a seemingly-disastrous situation and brought the Bruins back to relevance once again. Only time will tell.

 

Possible Line Combinations

It is difficult to know for sure how lines will shape up after training camp and the preseason. Bruins’ defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will miss 8 weeks after having surgery for a herniated disc; forward Seth Griffith has a sprained MCL and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who was invited to Bruins training camp on a PTO, has played well in the preseason and will most likely earn a contract; if not, the Bruins will rely on one of the many talented goaltenders in the system, such as Malcolm Subban. David Pastrnak will be entering his sophomore season; he could have a breakout year playing alongside David Krejci. The Bruins will be without many familiar faces, including Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, Reilly Smith, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell. Zac Rinaldo will add toughness and energy to a lineup that has become smaller and less physical in the past two seasons with the departure of the entire Maroon Line along with Lucic. It is hard to know if newly-signed Joonas Kemppainen, who has been playing in the Finnish Elite League, will be the fourth line center, making Rinaldo the most likely candidate to be the 13th forward; however, the fourth line could be some combination of Rinaldo, Chris Kelly and Max Talbot. That being said, here are two possible sets of line combinations for the Bruins at the start of the 2015-2016 season:
 

Forwards
Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson
Beleskey-Krejci-Pastrnak
Hayes-Spooner-Connolly
Rinaldo-Kelly-Talbot

–OR–

Marchand-Bergeron-Hayes
Beleskey-Krejci-Pastrnak
Kelly-Spooner-Eriksson
Talbot-Kemppainen-Connolly

Defensemen
Chara-Trotman
Krug-Irwin
Miller-McQuaid

Goalies
Rask
Gustavsson
 

Disagree?

Explain in the comments below!
 

Final Thoughts

The Bruins made a splash of offseason moves this year that not many were expecting. Though former Bruins’ general manager Peter Chiarelli was fired and the team missed the playoffs, the season wasn’t so dire that so many moves were necessary. It’s obvious management felt that changes were needed and that the team needed somewhat of a “reset” in order to remain relevant in the playoff picture while the team’s best players (Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, etc.) are still in their prime. Though the team struggled throughout the season, the Bruins missed the playoffs on the last day of the regular season and were certainly in the playoff hunt for the entire season. The Bruins have been one of the most elite teams in the NHL over the past five years, along with Chicago and Los Angeles, and have been considered a perennial Cup contender. It’s unclear whether these offseason changes are severe enough to change that, but it’s hard to tell how the new lineup will shape up once the regular season is underway. Having David Krejci healthy for the year will be a huge boost to the Bruins’ offense and overall success and will also take some of the pressure off Selke-winner Patrice Bergeron. Though the team’s blue line looks thinner than it has in past years, it is still solid enough, with the help of goaltender Tuukka Rask, to allow the Bruins to reclaim their dominant two-way game. The organization has much more depth after acquiring so many high draft picks, which will be key for the future. All in all, though the Bruins said goodbye to many familiar faces, the team has enough talent and is capable of making a playoff run; however, with so much turnover it would not be a shock if the Bruins were to miss the playoffs for a second year in a row.
 

Be sure to check out HFL’s offseason overviews of all 30 NHL teams.
 
Featured image via bruins.nhl.com