In the summer of 2018, the Boston Bruins lured free agent defenseman John Moore away from the New Jersey Devils to the tune of $ 13.75 million over five years. At just 27 years old Moore averaged 19, 22, and 18 points in his three prior campaigns with middling to below-average Devil teams. So the consensus surrounding the signing was largely considered to be positive.
Fast forward to the present day and Moore is a mainstay of sports talk radio dismay and garners plenty of negative press. But how can a player who has suited up in just 90 games since 2018-19 be the butt of everyone’s joke?
Injuries Force Us To Question What If?
Whenever the last page of John Moore’s chapter in Boston Bruins history is written a reoccurring theme will be “what if the injures didn’t pile up?”. Akin to Loui Eriksson’s injury-riddled 2013-14 season, ironically both Moore and Eriksson played in just 61 games their first years as Bruins.
In fairness, Eriksson was the centerpiece of the Tyler Seguin trade and would rebound the following year for 47 points and explode for 63 the year before signing his now infamous contact with the Vancouver Canucks. The point ultimately being unlike Eriksson, John Moore is yet to break out with Boston and justify the financial commitment.
A season ago Boston was uncharacteristically thin defensively presenting Moore with a prime opportunity to play significant minutes against top-flight competition. But in March, just five games into the regular season, Moore sustained an injury that required season-ending surgery.
Fortunately for Moore, the chance to become a Bruins regular is still on the table a fact not lost on the man himself. Last Sunday against the Washington Capitals in the pre-season opener Moore was a noticeable presence. Skating for over 21 minutes of which 4:01 was spent short-handed. Offensively he chipped in as well by recording two assists one of which was a real beaut.
Boston came away with a walk-off shootout victory courtesy of Jake DeBrusk but it was John Moore’s comments after the game which caught the attention of many. When asked about how he felt physically after a long off-season rehabbing his ailments Moore didn’t hesitate with his candid response “I felt great… I love hockey its always in the back of your mind… it might never come back”.
John Moore wasn’t brought to Boston in the hopes of winning a Norris Trophy or be the heir apparent to Zdeno Chara. Rather help stabilize a defensive core which, at the time, was comprised of chiseled veterans and fresh-faced youngsters and not much in between.
Make no mistake the Bruins aren’t significantly better with Moore sidelined. If that was the case General Manager Don Sweeney would have bought out his contract by now. With two years remaining at $ 2.75 million AAV, it’s a win-win for both sides if Moore experiences a consistent, injury-free 2021-22.
If that’s the case the Bruins will be stronger thus making Moore an attractive trade asset come season’s end. Remember Charlie McAvoy is in need of a new contract in the summer of 2022 and Boston will be counting every cent to make that happen.