Boston Bruins: Don Sweeney’s Off-Season Report Card


The off-season is officially over.  In a matter of weeks, the leaves will begin to fall, temperatures will drop, and it will be hockey season again.  The long summer has finally given way to the sight of Bruins players reporting for camp, which officially starts for veterans this Thursday.

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The nature of this particular off-season made this one more interesting, no doubt.  From the way last season ended, to the sweeping changes the Bruins faced, to the uncertainty of the future as we head into this week, we are all watching with a careful eye, the 2015-2016 Boston Bruins.

Before the team embarks on the upcoming voyage this Thursday, I want to take a moment to hand Don Sweeney his report card, and offer my humble opinion on how he fared during his first off-season on the job.  A complete recap of the off-season that was:

Key Additions:

D Colin Miller

The jury is still out on Colin Miller, the offensive defenseman who came to Boston in the haul for Milan Lucic.  He is ready to break into the NHL this season, and could have major upside for this Bruins team who finds themselves in need of young defenders who can move the puck.  Time will tell, but I’ll trust Sweeney’s eye here.  Grade:  B

LW Zac Rinaldo

I wouldn’t necessarily call this one a “head scratcher” because it’s clear that he was brought into Boston because of his aggressive style.  But Sweeney swapped a third round pick in the 2017 draft to bring Rinaldo to Boston, and I just don’t think it was necessary.  Brian Ferlin could provide a physical presence instead, and would rack up less penalty minutes while he’s at it.  My gut tells me we’ll look back on this one and cringe.  Grade:  D

LW Matt Beleskey

The new faces in the Bruins locker room are headlined by Matt Beleskey.  Sweeney had to replace Milan Lucic after dealing him to the Los Angeles Kings on draft day, and Beleskey brings a certain level of physicality that mirrors Lucic about as well as anyone in the league, but at a much lower price tag.  He was the best available option, and at an average annual value of $3.9M, there’s nothing to complain about.  Grade:  A

RW Jimmy Hayes

The same thing goes for Jimmy Hayes.  Hayes came to Boston on July 1st in a deal for Reilly Smith, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  Hayes is a better all around player, scores more goals, and has the ability to lean on players down low, something the Bruins lacked, and Smith could never do given his size.  Grade:  A-

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Key Departures:

D Matt Bartkowski

C Gregory Campbell

LW Daniel Paille

Letting all three of these guys walk in free agency was smart.  I was starting to wonder how many looks Matt Bartkowski was going to get along the blue line, and that kid flat out doesn’t have it.  As for Campbell and Paille, I have to tip my cap to both of them.  They played on this team as hard working, serviceable fourth liners throughout the Bruins glory years, and each have a ring to show for it.  And we’ll never forget Campbell staying out on the ice to kill off a penalty with a broken leg against the Pens in the ’13 Eastern Conference Finals.  This is a business though, and it was time for both of them to go.  Grade:  A

RW Reilly Smith

As I stated above, good riddance.  Smith showed promise in Boston early on, but when the players around him began to decline, he crumbled.  He’s a soft, average player, whose nose for the net seemed to vanish after the first half of 2013-14, and never returned.  His confidence on the puck was nowhere to be found this season, and he doesn’t have the speed to bring anything to the table for the new look Bruins.  Good move by Sweeney.  Grade:  A

D Dougie Hamilton

I’ll start by saying I wasn’t among the Bruins fans claiming that the sky was falling after Sweeney dealt Hamilton.  Dougie is a very good hockey player with a bright future, but he didn’t want to be here.  He proved that when he took an extension from Calgary that was similar to what Sweeney offered him.  A big part of the Bruins problems last season was team chemistry, and he doesn’t fit the mold of what has been built going forward.  However, Sweeney could have gotten a better deal than the three picks he received for him.  The deal felt rushed, which only added to the criticism of this move.  Grade:  C

LW Milan Lucic

Moving Lucic was a savvy move.  It took care of two big problems the Bruins had.  One being that the team was stuck in cap hell, and Lucic carried a $6M price tag.  The other being the lack of young defenseman who can move the puck (Colin Miller).  Although I do think Lucic will have a bee under his bonnet this season in LA.  Don’t be too quick to miss him though, because once he bags another big contract next summer, the 28 year old Lucic will once again be floating around the ice in the middle of the season taking nights off when the team needs him.  That can’t be a characteristic of the Boston Bruins going forward if they want to return to greatness.  Grade:  A-

Overall Grade:  B

Now lets get this season started!

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