So, if you’re reading this, I’m either going to assume that you’re as excited for the fresh new faces we’ll be adding to the lineup next year, or you still think I’m completely insane for my laissez-faire attitude towards the big name resignings and want to see what other insanity I throw your way.
Before we get to the meat of this not-so-meaty upcoming draft class, though, I’d like to dedicate a post to looking at the trade decisions Boston management has made in recent years. This postseason has been full of speculations about some of the B’s big-name players being shopped around the league, and while some of the trade rumors have been dispelled pretty quickly, other rumors- such as the one that Shawn Thornton will not be returning to the lineup next season- have been more than true.
Therefore, I think it’s important to look at what’s been done before, so we might better understand some of the decisions the team might make this year- and what it could mean for fans in 2015.
t all started in 2005 with the most controversial trade Boston’s management has made in the past decade; on November 30- only three and half months after signing a $20 million dollar contract extension with the center- Boston traded their captain Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for three relatively insignificant players.
Bruins fans overall weren’t terribly happy about the trade. Combined, the three former Sharks- Wayne Primeau, Marco Sturm, and Brad Stuart- had put up only 36 points. In comparison, Big Joe alone had already put up nearly 32. The trade wasn’t about numbers, though, and instead enabled the team to shift its focus from building around the bruiser-like centerman to rebuilding the kind of team that Boston wanted to become again. Thornton’s attitude both on and off the ice clashed with the team-oriented mentality management was trying to bring back, and he was preventing the team from growing. It showed, too- the season he left, Boston failed to even make the playoffs, coming in last overall in the Atlantic Division. Getting rid of him enabled GM Mike O’Connell to start building around Patrice Bergeron instead, who was a rising star at the time and the only player from the 2005-2006 roster who is still on the team.
The Bruins didn’t stop with Thornton, though. Following that postseason, the team embarked on one of the most one-sided series of trades I’ve seen in my lifetime with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That year, they traded goalie Andrew Raycroft, who had already been replaced as the team’s first string by rising star Tim Thomas, for the Leaf’s goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask. Then, three years later, they traded their 2006 first-round draft selection Phil Kessel for three of Toronto’s draft picks. The forward went to Canada, and Boston was given a 2010 first-round pick, which they used to draft Tyler Seguin, a 2010 second-round pick, which they used to draft Jared Knight, and a 2011 first-round pick… which they used to draft Dougie Hamilton.
Yes, you read that correctly. In exchange for an aging goaltender and a hard-headed, high-scoring superstar with an attitude issue, Toronto (albeit inadvertently) gave the Bruins Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, and Dougie Hamilton.
I’m not even finished.
This past postseason, after a disappointing six-game loss in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston made another blockbuster, big-name trade. They sent Seguin- who had been displaying the kind of attitude issues that had made Thornton and Kessel bad fits for the team, as well- and fellow forward Rich Peverley, as well as prospect Ryan Button, to the Dallas Stars. In return, the B’s received three prospects- Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow, and Matt Fraser- and already established Swedish forward Loui Eriksson. Smith has become a solid member of the team’s second line, and Fraser scored the OT winner in game four against Montreal in his first Boston playoff appearance.
What does this mean, looking at the current off-season?
First, it means that the team can’t simply look at a player’s numbers in order to determine whether he still has a place in Boston. Some fans are quick to criticize players who failed to produce the kinds of numbers seen from superstars around the league, but history has proven that Boston wins cups when the roster looks like a family unit and not a group of disjointed names and faces.
Second, it means that Boston remains the kind of team that drafts smartly, and it shows. Of the team’s top six forwards this past year, four were drafted by Boston themselves. On defense, breakout star Dougie Hamilton is an original draft pick, as well. This draft year isn’t looking as strong as it has recently, so it’s important to look at the players the team has to choose from.
Want to hear who these players are? Check back later this week, and we’ll get to know some of the more intriguing prospects Boston has been looking at- and what they could mean for the team as we head into the next few seasons.