The Boston Bruins have, in large part, been underachievers for the past 10+ years. With a core of locked-in future Hall of Famers Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, and possible Hall of Famers Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask along with guys like David Krejci who have anchored the team for so long, the Bruins should by all measures have more than one Stanley Cup in the 21st century.
Though they’ve come close to winning it all on numerous occasions since 2011, the organization has made the wrong moves in free agency and trade deadlines time and time again, costing the Bruins chances at winning it all again.
Looking back on past trade deadlines and free agencies, the Bruins have brought in names like Loui Eriksson, Jimmy Hayes, David Backes, Brian Gionta, and Rick Nash. All of these guys, with the debatable exception of Rick Nash were middle 6 forwards, who were brought in to try to fix the long-standing issue of lack of depth scoring that has tortured the Bruins for so long. And all of these players have, to different extents, failed at the role.
Even looking most recently at Charlie Coyle, who was brought in to provide depth scoring, had an abysmal season right after the Bruins gave him a long six-year extension.
The Bruins need to make these moves to acquire known NHL players comes of their lack of ability to draft well. As Bruins fans, we all know about the historically bad draft in 2015 when the B’s picked Zboril, DeBrusk, and Senyshyn in lieu of players like Barzal, Connor, Chabot, along with virtually every other player in the back half of the first round who the Bruins in retrospect would have rather picked.
Outside of this atrocious draft, the Bruins no longer have a 1st round pick in the organization from the years of 2010-2013, and since the 2017 draft, only 3 Bruins draft picks have played a game in the NHL. Their only real hits in the draft in the last decade have been Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, and Matt Grzelcyk.
All of this mismanagement of assets brings us to 2021 where the Bruins are now without their longtime second-line center David Krejci after they finally built a real NHL second line around him. The question has turned from, “who is going to play on the wing for David Krejci?”, to “who is going to center the second line for Hall and Smith or Foligno?”.
The Bruins brought in 3 wingers when their need now is a second-line center. As it stands now, we’re looking at a Charlie Coyle centered second line, one year removed from the least productive season of his career.
The Bruins’ history of making poor trading, drafting, and signing decisions brings us to their offseason additions of Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, and Tomas Nosek. As we’ve seen with so many of their free agency signings in years past, the Bruins’ ability to not only evaluate their team but also to evaluate NHL talent is suspect, to say the least.
Nick Foligno is well known of course but Tomas Nosek has never played a full season and never scored over 20 points in a season, and Erik Haula is now on the wrong side of 30 and has seen his production declined in the past couple of years.
So while the Bruins have once again made moves to improve their depth, whether or not they truly help the team is a huge question mark. The moves made so far on offense in the offseason feel more lateral than they should because of the loss of David Krejci.
While the B’s may have a bit more depth this year, their high-end scoring could falter if Coyle can’t come through as a second-line center, or anyone they put there for that matter.
While Boston is still certainly a playoff team, their additions this offseason haven’t made them a Stanley Cup favorite. Their moves are far too reminiscent of past teams that have made similar moves and ultimately been too flawed to go all the way. Now that the Bruins will be back in a division with the Lightning, Panthers, and Maple Leafs, it’s going to be a battle for sure.
Right now it seems as though we are looking at yet another Bruins team poised for a second-round exit seeing as they just don’t have the skill or depth to compete with teams like Tampa Bay.
Hopefully, they’ll prove some people wrong.