What a difference a year can make. This time last year the Bruins were coming off a Stanley Cup Final loss and approaching free agency with the intention of making the necessary changes to ensure a return trip to the Finals. They signed Jarome Iginla and assumed he would be the final missing piece that would put the Bruins over the top. One year and a disappointing early round playoff exit later and the Bruins are faced with one of their most frustrating offseasons in recent memory. The B’s are up against it with the new 69 million dollar salary cap and instead of focusing on making upgrades, management has had to focus their time on the potential of cutting players or trading bad salaries.
Peter Chiarelli bought a lot of good grace when the Bruins captured the Stanley Cup in 2011. However, with each passing year the fans have watched as top line talent has either walked(Jarome Iginla, Nathan Horton) or been shown the door(Tyler Seguin) due to being strapped for cash. Based off the strong reaction from fans and writers such as CBSBoston.com’s Matt Kalman, it seems like Chiarelli’s public standing has declined in the last year.
Chiarelli is shrewd and stubborn in his approach to managing this roster; one has to look no further than the trading of Tyler Seguin to see how much system and fit seem to outweigh talent and skill when setting up a team. Fitting the system has been a staple of the Chiarelli regime since he took over as general manager. Granted, it has resulted in a lot of positive developments such as great team chemistry as well as being the deepest and perhaps most balanced team in the league over the last few years.
However, if you look at the rosters of other elite or balanced teams in the league such as the Los Angeles Kings or Chicago Blackhawks, you will see that amongst the depth and balance lies pure skill and goal scoring ability. Chiarelli has yet to draft or acquire and retain a player who does that on a consistent basis. What’s even worse is that the Bruins do not seem to be in a rush to integrate a player like this into their system.
Whether it’s been a reluctance to stray even the slightest bit away from the Bruins style of play or the overvaluing of players; flaws that have been present since the early beginnings of his tenure are starting to shine brighter now. People forget how tenuous Chiarelli’s job security was entering the 2011 playoffs and entering game seven against the Maple Leafs in 2013. Another early exit from the playoffs for a team who has built the expectation to make at least the conference finals could put Chiarelli at the doorstep of losing his job with the Bruins.