No other team in the NHL made a bigger splash this past weekend at the Draft than the Bruins, as they were the first team in the modern era with three straight draft picks in the first round, courtesy of some blockbuster moves. Now, with free agency beginning on Wednesday, Bruins fans have to be wondering what direction the team is headed for in 2015-16 and beyond.
The flurry of activity on Causeway Street actually started on Thursday as the team dealt forward Carl Soderberg (an impending free agent that they chose not to re-sign) to the Avalanche for a sixth-round draft pick in 2016. If they knew he wasn’t coming back, why didn’t they trade him last season when they could have received a bigger return?
That puzzling move was trumped the following day as Boston dealt promising young defenseman Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for three draft picks this season (15th, 45th and 52nd overall). Finally, a couple hours later the B’s flipped winger Milan Lucic to Los Angeles for the 13th pick, backup goaltender Martin Jones and minor league defenseman Colin Miller.
It’s hard to accept that the Bruins are actually rebuilding when they still have cornerstone pieces like center Patrice Bergeron (who won his third Selke Trophy last week), goaltender Tuukka Rask and defenseman Zdeno Chara, among others, under contract. Plus, they brought back head coach Claude Julien. If they wanted a fresh start, why is he returning? Yes, the Bruins were hemmed in by the salary cap thanks to former GM Peter Chiarelli’s mistakes, but then explain the rationale for signing injury-prone, bottom six defenseman Adam McQuaid to a four-year extension worth $11 million on Friday?
Julien was at the Draft, along with Boston’s front office personnel and he came away supportive of new GM Don Sweeney’s chaotic couple of days.
“I think that you’ve got to give Don a lot of credit,” noted Julien, who figures to be on a short leash in 2015-16. “He’s come into this role and there was a lot on his plate and there were some tough decisions to be made. Personally, I’m pretty impressed with how he’s handled it. That’s not to say I’m happy that Hamilton and Lucic are gone, we just lost two good players, but those are moves that probably had to be made, obviously with the situation that we’re in with the cap and everything else in the future.”
The three guys that Boston drafted in the first round are all 18-years-old, meaning that it’ll probably be a few seasons before they start to make any real impact with the Bruins. Czech defenseman Jakub Zboril went 13th (with LA’s pick), Canadian forward Jake DeBrusk (his father Louie had a 12-year NHL career) was 14th and Canadian forward Zachary Senyshyn (who many draft experts thought was a reach at that spot) went 15th (with Calgary’s pick).