Not too long ago, the Boston Bruins were one of the top teams in the NHL and consistent Stanley Cup contenders. Yet after a handful of abysmal decisions made by general managers Peter Chiarelli and Don Sweeney, the Bruins now find themselves as an average club that cannot find an identity. Now, that is not to say that the Bruins are a bad team, but they no longer are at an elite level. It is honestly surprising to see how badly they have fallen off. During their golden days, they were still a young team on the rise. It has been incredibly challenging to watch them decline in the fashion they have because it is not the players’ faults, but rather the idiotic decisions made by management.
With all that said, in this article we will be looking at eight bad moves the Boston Bruins made and seven moves they need to make to improve their current situation. The amount of superstar players they have given up on is truly baffling because not only did they lose a lot of talent, but they never effectively replaced them. Luckily for the Bruins, they have drafted a handful of elite players, such as David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy and they are already making an immense impact. Due to this, the Bruins do have a lot of potential to mark themselves as legitimate contenders again, but they need to make significant changes as soon as possible.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at the worst moves made by the Bruins since their Stanley Cup win and the roster changes they need to make to save the franchise.
15 Bad Move: Trading For Jimmy Hayes
During the 2015 offseason, the Boston Bruins knew that they needed to reshape their roster after missing the playoffs for the first time in about a decade. The Bruins were very unhappy with the production of their top-6, so they decided to part ways with Reilly Smith and send him to the Florida Panthers for hometown boy, Jimmy Hayes. At the time, the deal made sense.
Jimmy Hayes just came off a career year with the Panthers and it appeared that he was growing into a top scorer. Yet once he arrived in Boston, the pressure of playing in his childhood city caught up to him and his production fell off. His first year started off pretty well, but he completely fell off. After an abysmal 2016-17 season that saw him put up a measly five points in just under 70 games, the Bruins bought him out.
14 Saving Move: Extend McAvoy
The Boston Bruins truly struck gold when they drafted Charlie McAvoy with the 14th overall selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Since arriving with the team during the Bruins’ playoff run, McAvoy has already shown signs of being an elite, top-2 defender for the club. At age 19, McAvoy is clearly the best defenseman on the Bruins and playing with Zdeno Chara is helping him progress even more.
The only negative with Charlie McAvoy starting his career last year in the playoffs is that it shed a year of his entry level deal. With that said, the Bruins need to lock up McAvoy long term this offseason. If the Bruins have learned anything over the past few years, it is to not lose their top young players so easily. McAvoy very well has the ability to be their franchise player in the future, so they need to give him the big deal.
13 Bad Move: Signing Matt Beleskey
When the Boston Bruins signed Matt Beleskey, it was deemed as one of the best deals of the 2015 NHL offseason. Beleskey had just come off a career year with the Anaheim Ducks and was a playoff hero for them. The Bruins signed him to replace Milan Lucic and it made a lot of sense. Beleskey plays with a lot of grit like Lucic and appeared to have a solid scoring touch.
The first season of the deal was actually great for the Bruins because Beleskey actually put up a new career high in points. Yet, the next season was a complete bust because Beleskey only registered eight points in 49 games. This season, Beleskey has yet to even register a point and it is apparent that he will soon be bought out by the club. The Bruins are paying this guy just under $4 million dollars to be a healthy scratch. Let that sink in.
12 Saving Move: Trade For Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
There has been an ongoing trade rumour that the Boston Bruins are interested in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and there is substance behind that claim. The Edmonton Oilers are off to another horrible start and are looking to shake up their roster. The Bruins could use Nugent-Hopkins down the middle on their third line because David Backes now is primarily used on the wing and Ryan Spooner’s fate is unknown.
Ryan-Nugent Hopkins is off to the best start of his entire career, so his value may be a bit high. Yet the Bruins appear to be pushing toward the playoffs this season and most likely would be okay with parting ways with a prospect or two. The Oilers likely would want Spooner back in the deal and I think the Bruins should do it if it means they would be bringing in RNH in return.
11 Bad Move: Never Replacing Nathan Horton
When Nathan Horton hit the open market in during the 2013 NHL offseason, the Boston Bruins were desperate to bring him back. Horton was an elite winger who still had many years left in his prime. When Horton opted to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets, it was a monumental hit because they had just traded Tyler Seguin as well. This ultimately set the Bruins back immensely.
The Bruins made a smart decision in signing Jarome Iginla that offseason and had they given him an extension afterwards, they would have had their replacement for a handful of seasons. However, the Bruins refused to offer Iginla a three year contract and since then, have yet to find a solid replacement. Although they have David Pastrnak as their top right winger, they still do not have Horton 2.0.
10 Saving Move: Trade For Noah Hanifin
The Boston Bruins were pushing very hard to move up in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft because they wanted to draft Noah Hanifin. They ultimately were not able to make a deal to get him, which has still left a sour taste in Bruins’ fans mouths. This feeling of anger is mainly because they got rid of Dougie Hamilton to get an extra first round pick to get Hanifin. This did not work out.
Fast forward to the 2017-18 season and the Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly listening to offers for Hanifin. This makes a lot of sense because the Hurricanes have a plethora of young defensemen and they will need to move at least one out. The Bruins should look at acquiring Hanifin because it would not only bring in an elite, young defenseman, but also a worthy hometown boy.
9 Bad Move: Signing David Backes Long Term
Personally, I am a huge fan of what David Backes brings on the ice because he not only is an effective power forward, but an outstanding leader. When the Bruins signed Backes in the 2016 NHL offseason, it initially was said to be a one year deal. TSN analysts thought it was an outstanding move by the Bruins, but when they found out it was five, their positivity quickly changed and rightfully so.
David Backes was already showing signs of being out of his prime during his final season in St. Louis and that is simply because of his decreasing speed. Now, Backes is still a talented hockey player who put up just under forty points last season, but this contract is going to hurt the Bruins soon. Backes’ cap hit is $6 million per season and he is clearly already dropping. Backes is more of a third line guy these days, so his hit should be far less.
8 Saving Move: Extend Zdeno Chara
Although Zdeno Chara is already 40 and definitely is not the defenseman he used to be, he still is a top notch NHL player and one of the best on the Boston Bruins. Chara has dedicated the entire second half of his career to the Bruins and is one of the essential reasons why the Bruins won the Stanley Cup back in 2011. Chara still is valuable today and very well should be given an extension after this season.
Realistically, there is no free agent that the Bruins will be able to acquire this offseason that can replace the importance of Zdeno Chara. Chara may be a bit slower these days, but he does provide an outstanding amount of leadership to the young guns on the Bruins. The Bruins should keep him because of the chemistry he has with Charlie McAvoy and mainly because of his dedication to Boston.
7 Bad Move: Trading Martin Jones
Back in the 2015 offseason, the Boston Bruins started their major retooling by trading Milan Lucic away to the Los Angeles Kings. The main asset that the Bruins got back from that deal was solid goalie Martin Jones. Martin Jones was expected to be a solid backup option for Tuukka Rask that would take a lot of pressure of him. Yet just a few days later, the Bruins traded him to the Sharks for a first round pick.
Since the trade, Martin Jones has been an elite goalie for the San Jose Sharks, while Tuukka Rask has been average at best. The Bruins could have benefitted immensely with Jones there because he very well could have beat Rask for the number one job. Although the Bruins got the Sharks first round pick, they used it to draft a player that was expected to be a late second pick. Overall, this trade was an absolute bust.
6 Saving Move: Trade For Gabriel Landeskog
The Colorado Avalanche are having a yard sale of their top talent and Gabriel Landeskog may be the next guy out. The Avalanche have already traded away Matt Duchene and Landeskog has been on the trading block since last year. The Bruins reportedly were interested in Landeskog last season and with the state they are in currently, they should look at his services again.
Landeskog is deceptively large in size and uses that to his advantage with the physical side of the game. The Bruins need to add some grit for sure, but Landeskog also provides a lot of skill and finesse type play as well. The price for Landeskog would probably cost the Bruins one of their top forward prospects and picks, but with the state the Bruins are in, they should still consider this.
5 Bad Move: Trading Johnny Boychuk
Right before the start of the 2014-15 NHL season, the Boston Bruins traded Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders for two second round picks and a conditional third rounder. This trade was a very hard one for Bruins’ fans to swallow because Boychuk was an extremely important player in the Bruins’ defensive core and was a fan favorite for his bone jarring hits.
The Boston Bruins made this trade solely because they needed to open some more cap space. This trade quickly created a new weakness for the Bruins and ultimately dropped them from being true contenders. Once Boychuk arrived to the Islanders, he instantly became their best defenseman and put up a career high 35 points. The Bruins definitely could have handled the situation better with him.
4 Saving Move: Trade For Oliver Ekman-Larsson
The Arizona Coyotes have a great prospect pool and are heading in the right direction, but right now, they are incredibly bad. The Coyotes had the worst start in NHL history this season and it took them over twenty games to get their first regulation win. The Coyotes should look to trade away all of their veterans for draft picks, especially star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Although Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been an important piece of the Coyotes for years, it is time for them to move on from him because realistically he will opt to leave them when he is a free agent in 2019. The Bruins should look to trade for Ekman-Larsson because he has a good contract right now and he could be a solid replacement for Chara later on in the future.
3 Bad Move: Trading Dougie Hamilton
The Boston Bruins are by far one of the dumbest teams when it comes to handling their young players. This is exactly the case with former top defenseman, Dougie Hamilton. During the 2015 NHL offseason, Dougie Hamilton was a restricted free agent and he was seen as the future of the Boston Bruins. So, what did the Bruins do? They shipped him away to the Calgary Flames for the 15th overall selection in the 2015 NHL draft.
Dougie Hamilton has continued to get better since joining the Calgary Flames and is one of the main reasons why they are still good. The return for Hamilton could have been far greater for the Bruins because Hamilton was and still is so young. The biggest wound from this is that with the 15th pick the Bruins passed on Islanders’ young star, Mathew Barzal, and drafted Zach Senyshyn. Senyshyn has yet to play an NHL game and does not have a high ceiling.
2 Saving Move: Trade Tuukka Rask
During the early 2010s, Tuukka Rask was one of the top goalies in the NHL and as a result, the Boston Bruins gave him a big extension. Since his Stanley Cup collapse in 2013, Rask has not been the same goalie and has been incredibly inconsistent. This season, Rask is having his worst by far and the Bruins should consider moving him before his value completely plummets.
There is a pretty big risk trading your number one goalie, but in this case it would not be very hard finding a replacement. This may be a move that will take a bit of time to occur, but it appears that it should be done. Rask has not been playing like a top notch goalie in the NHL and with that, the Bruins need to find stability. A potential Rask deal could make a huge difference.
1 Bad Move: Trading Tyler Seguin
Ding. ding, ding! We have a winner! Back in the 2013 offseason, the Boston Bruins traded away Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars because they felt that he did not fit into their hockey culture. When trading away a future franchise player, one would expect to receive a large sum of top notch prospects and veteran stars. Instead, the Bruins received squat!
The best part of the deal for the Bruins was that they acquired Loui Eriksson, but that is not saying much. Eriksson only had one good year with the Bruins (his last one) where he managed to score thirty goals. As for the rest of the deal, Reilly Smith turned into Jimmy Hayes and Joe Morrow is now and forever will be an AHL defender. Oh, and Morrow is in Montreal’s system now. So, at the end of the day, the Boston Bruins officially have nothing left from the deal and the Stars have one of the best players in the league in Seguin.