The state of Massachusetts has existed since the year 1788, and in the almost 230 years since then, the state has managed to become home to some of the most iconic, historic, and successful professional sports franchises in the world. Massachusetts houses teams such as the Boston Celtics, who have won 17 NBA Championships, the New England Patriots who have won 4 Super Bowl titles, and the Boston Red Sox who have won the World Series 8 times. The state though, possesses a team from each of the 4 major North American sports, which means that it also contains a professional hockey team, a team known as the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins were founded in 1924, and have the distinct honor of being one of the National Hockey League’s original six teams, and in their long 93 year history, the franchise has won the coveted Stanley Cup 6 times. Over the decades, the Bruins have had some truly great Hall of Fame players wear their jersey, including the likes of Cam Neely and Phil Esposito, as well as players like Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque, who are considered to be two of the best defensmen to ever play the game of hockey. The team may have had some great players throughout its history, but it has also had some bad players over the years as well, and this list will be focusing on the eight best players that the Bruins have had since the year 2000, as well as 7 of the worst.
15 Best: Tyler Seguin
In every sport, there comes a time when a team agrees to trade a talented player because that player exhibits certain traits off the field of play that the front office staff deem to be problematic for the rest of the locker room; and that was part of the reason why the Boston Bruins traded Tyler Seguin to Dallas in 2013. Since being traded to Dallas, Seguin has become one of the most potent offensive threats in the entire NHL the past few seasons, and although he is far more experienced now than when he was in Boston, his offensive potential was still plainly evident when he debuted as an 18 year old in 2010. The Bruins selected Seguin 2nd overall in 2010, and in his first season with the team he not only scored 11 goals and 22 points, but he was also rather important in the team’s Stanley Cup win that year. In just 3 seasons with Boston, Seguin was able to score 56 goals and 121 points in 203 games.
14 Worst: Loui Eriksson
When the Bruins traded Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars, fans expected that the team would receive a decent amount of compensation in return, and the major component of what Dallas sent back to Boston was Loui Eriksson. The Swedish winger was taken by Dallas 33rd overall in 2003, and he ended up spending parts of 7 seasons with the Stars, where by the 2008-09 season, he became one of the team’s best 2 forwards. When Boston traded for Eriksson, they expected that they would be getting the same player who could score over 70 points, but in his first 2 seasons with the Bruins, he scored a combined 84 points. It is true that last season was his best year with Boston statistically, where he scored 30 goals and 63 points, but a lot of that could be chalked up to the fact that he was playing for a new contract, which he got from Vancouver, where so far he is underperforming.
13 Best: Brad Marchand
In hockey, there are players who are considered pests, players who get on the nerves of everyone on the opposition, but these pests also happen to usually be beloved by their own teammates, and Brad Marchand is one of these pests. Marchand was drafted by Boston in 2006 at 71st overall, and although he debuted with the team in 2009, he did not become a permanent member of the team’s roster until the 2010-11 season. He may in fact be considered a pest, but unlike most of the players who fit under this category, Marchand happens to actually be a talented player, as he currently happens to be one of the team’s top scorers. In parts of 8 seasons now with the Bruins, Marchand has scored 158 goals and 305 points in 470 games.
12 Worst: Jordan Caron
Every professional sports team draft players who they expect big things from. but end up turning out to be duds, and this has happened to the Bruins as well, and several of those duds will be appearing on this list. Jordan Caron is one of these players, and he was actually a very good player while he was in junior, and it was because of his performance that Boston drafted him late in the 1st round in 2009. Caron may have been a decent point getter in junior and the minors, but he was never able to be productive whenever he was brought up to the main roster. Caron spent his tenure with Boston split between the main roster and the minors, where in 134 games he scored only 12 goals and 28 points; and if you think he just could not thrive in the Bruins’ system, he scored 0 points last season in 23 games split between both Colorado and St. louis.
11 Best: Joe Thornton
Tyler Seguin is not the only talented player that the Bruins have traded away, and as it turns out, just like Seguin, Joe Thornton went on to remain a point producing machine after he was traded-to the point that he has been one of the most productive players in the NHL the past 10 years. Boston selected Thornton 1st overall in 1997, and went on to debut with the team later that same year, where he remained on the Bruins’ main roster until 2005 when he was traded to the San Jose Sharks. In his time with San Jose, Thornton has basically been a point-per-game player, but he also had that level of production when he was with Boston, where in 532 games, he was able to score 169 goals and 454 points.
10 Worst: Dennis Wideman
Dennis Wideman may have been drafted 241st overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2002, but the defenseman did not make his NHL debut until the 2005-06 season as a member of the St. Louis Blues. After spending parts of 2 seasons with St. Louis, Wideman was traded to Boston in 2007, and he would end up remaining with the Bruins until 2010 where they traded him to Florida, and in the 4 seasons he did spend with Boston, he managed to score 33 goals and 119 points in 256 games. It is true that Wideman was able to put up decent offensive numbers as a defenseman, which is a good thing to be able to do in the current NHL, but the reason for his appearance on this list, is because of his tendency to make mistakes in his zone, which is evidenced by the fact that he has a +/- of -63 for his career, which is terrible for a top 4 defenseman.
9 Best: Zdeno Chara
So far, there have only been 2 European born players who were able to captain their teams to a Stanley Cup victory, and one of those is Boston’s current captain Zdeno Chara, who has been the team’s captain since he arrived in 2006. Chara was initially drafted in 1996 by the Islanders, who traded him to the Ottawa Senators where he played for 5 seasons before signing with Boston as a free agent. In 11 seasons now with the Bruins, Chara has played in nearly 800 games where he has scored 122 goals and 404 points. It is true that the past 3 seasons, Chara has begun to show his age, as he has become a lot slower and more ineffective, but he has offered far too much to not be mentioned as one of the team’s best players since 2000.
8 Worst: Matt Lashoff
With this entry we have defenseman Matt Lashoff, who is another former draft pick that the Boston Bruins had high hopes for, but who was never able to produce the stats that warranted his 1st round selection. Boston drafted Lashoff in 2005, and he stayed with the franchise until the 2008-09 season’s trade deadline when he was dealt to Tampa Bay, but in the 3 years that he was with the Bruins’ organization, most of his time was spent in the minors where he would put up good numbers. Unfortunately for Lashoff though, he was only able to put up numbers while in the minors, seeing as he was only able to get 1 goal and 8 points in a combined 46 games, and it is because of this lack of production that Lashoff has not played in an NHL game since 2011.
7 Best: Tuukka Rask
In order for an NHL team to win the Stanley Cup, they need to have a good goalie in front of their net, and the Bruins were fortunate enough to have 2 such goalies on their roster during their championship season in 2010-11. Tuukka Rask was one of those goalies, and he was actually a 2005 1st round draft choice of Toronto, but he never got to play a single game for the Maple Leafs before being traded to Boston. Rask made his Bruins debut in 2007, and went on to serve as the team’s backup from the 2009-10 season to the end of the 2011-12 season. For the past 5 seasons, Rask has served as Boston’s number one goalie, and was quintessential to the team making the Stanley Cup Final in 2013, and as of now he has a save percentage of over .920 and a goals against average of under 2.25 in less than 400 games.
6 Worst: Shawn Thornton
When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, they did so with a team that consisted of big and very physical players, which was a composition which allowed them to conquer many of the other teams that year which were comprised of smaller more speed based rosters. Shawn Thornton was probably the most physical player on the entire Bruins roster at the time, which was not all that surprising considering that he basically served as a fighter throughout his entire NHL career. Thornton was drafted in 1997, and before signing with the Bruins in 2007, he spent most of his professional career in the minors, but with Boston, he became an everyday player whose best season came in 2010-11 where he scored 20 points including 10 goals. Despite that career year though, Thornton would barely get 10 points a season, including his last 2 with the team where he scored 8 and 7 points respectively, and this low production combined with his vastly inferior speed, is why Boston chose not to re-sign him in 2014.
5 Best: Tim Thomas
It was mentioned that the Bruins were able to win the 2011 Stanley Cup with 2 good goalies on their team, and that Tuukka Rask was one of those goalies, but at that time, he served as Tim Thomas’ backup. It was at the 1994 draft that Thomas was drafted into the league by the Quebec Nordiques, but it was not until 2002 when he was done playing in college and then in Europe, that he competed in his first career NHL game with the Bruins. Thomas became a permanent part of the roster during the 2005-06 season, where he became the team’s number one goalie until he took a break from the sport in 2012 and signed with Florida the following year. In the 7 seasons he spent as the number one goalie, he not only won the Cup, but the 2011 Cup Final MVP award as well; and he also won the Vezina award for being the league’s best goalie twice, making him by far the best goalie the team has had since 2000.
4 Worst: Zach Hamill
Here we have yet another 1st round pick who ended up being a disappointment, except this one really hurts due to the fact that unlike the previous players mentioned on this list, Zach Hamill was a high draft pick. The Bruins selected Hamill 8th overall in 2007, and the reason behind the centerman’s high ranking was because he managed to score 32 goals and 93 points in junior during his draft year. Obviously the Bruins thought that they were getting a productive scorer in Hamill, but as it turns out, in the small amount of time he spent on the main roster, he showed that he simply could not compete and put up numbers at the NHL level. Hamill debuted in 2010, and over the course of 3 seasons and 20 games, he managed to get only 4 points, all of which were assists. It is because of this lack of production, that he has not played in a single NHL game since 2012.
3 Best: David Krejci
Every successful NHL team has a core group of 5 players who they build the entire roster around, and the Bruins are no different, as Czech centerman David Krejci has been a part of Boston’s core group for years now. The Bruins selected Krejci deep in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft, and although he debuted with the team in 2007, it was not until the following season that he became a full-time everyday play player with the team. Krejci has so far spent his entire 12 year NHL career with Boston, where he is currently one of the team’s two most important forwards in terms of setting up scoring chances and getting back to help the team defensively, In less than 700 career games, he has scored 136 goals and over 430 points, and he also sports a +/- of over +100.
2 Worst: Hannu Toivonen
Here we have Hannu Toivonen, who is the 3rd and final goalie to appear on this list, and he also happens to be the most disappointing of all the Bruins’ failed 1st round draft picks, which makes him the team’s worst player since the year 2000. Boston took Toivonen with the 29th pick in 2002, and when they drafted him, the Bruins truly believed that he would go on to become their number one goalie for many years. As it turns out though, Toivonen was not cut out to compete against NHL caliber scorers, a fact which was demonstrated during the 2006-07 season when he was called up to replace an injured Tim Thomas. That year he played in 18 games, where he won only 3, and sported a goals against average of 4.23 along with a .875 save percentage, which are horrendous numbers for a goalie in the current NHL. It is because of how badly he performed in net with Boston, that Toivonen has not played in the league since 2007, which is unsurprising seeing as the goalie is supposed to be the most important player on every hockey team.
1 Best: Patrice Bergeron
At the number one spot on this list,we have Patrice Bergeron, who is unequivocally the best player that the Boston Bruins have had since the year 2000, and that is a statement that can be echoed by every fan of the sport of hockey. Bergeron was drafted by Boston 45th overall in 2003, and he went on to debut with the team later that same year, but he did not become a permanent part of the lineup until the 2005-06 season. So far, Bergeron has spent his whole 13 year career with the Bruins, where in over 800 games, he has scored more than 240 goals and 620 points, making him the most productive forward the team has had the past decade. What makes Bergeron such a great player is not just his ability to put up points, but his defensive prowess as well, seeing as he is one of the best two-way hockey players in the entire world, a statement which is validated by the fact that he has won the Selke Trophy for being the NHL’s best defensive forward 3 different times.