Since Peter Chiarelli became the general manager of the Boston Bruins in the summer of 2006, he has worked tirelessly to build the championship core that has been to the Stanley Cup Finals twice in the last three years. Throughout his tenure, he has shown a keen ability to identify players that fit the Bruins mold, as well as a willingness to move on from players that do not. By searching high and low to shape his roster, whether it be trades, free agency, or the draft, he’s managed to build one of the deepest team’s in the NHL.
The current configuration of the Boston Bruins has the team sitting atop the Atlantic Division, and second in the Eastern Conference. Despite suffering a few critical injuries, the Bruins have been able to sustain their success, thanks, in large part, to their organizational depth. So how exactly did that depth come to be? Let’s take a look:
Bruins Draft Picks
Milan Lucic: When the Bruins nabbed Milan Lucic with the 50th overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, they couldn’t have hoped for better results. The now 25 year old winger has become one of the elite power forwards in the NHL. He’s become a feature on Boston’s top line, providing a physical presence and the offensive threat of a 30-goal scorer. Lucic signed a three year contract extension, keeping him in Boston through 2015-2016 season.
David Krejci: In 2004, the Bruins found themselves a future top center in the second round of the draft, selecting David Krejci with the 63rd overall pick. Krejci has led the NHL in playoff scoring in two of the last three seasons, driving the Bruins offense on both of their runs to the Stanley Cup Finals. Krejci is signed through next season, but don’t be surprised if the team looks to extend him before he reaches free agency.
Brad Marchand: The Bruins third round selection (71st overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Marchand was the Bruins leading goal scorer last season. He made his debut with the Bruins in 2009-2010, failing to score a goal while playing in 20 games for the team. The next season, he took his game to a totally different level, notching 21 goals and shattering even the most optimistic expectations. Marchand has become one of the Bruins best penalty killers and also functions as the team’s biggest agitator.
Patrice Bergeron: As if drafting Lucic and Krejci in the second round wasn’t impressive enough, the Bruins drafted Bergeron with the 45th overall pick in 2003. Drafting Bergeron was, without question, the best move former general manager Mike O’Connell made in his tenure. It didn’t take long for the team to see what they had, with Bergeron making the team out of camp as an 18 year old. Over the last nine years, Bergeron has become the heart and soul of the organization, playing critical minutes in every situation, and serving as the Bruins best face-off man. Bergeron looks primed to be the Bruins next captain, and, with his new eight year extension in hand, he will likely be a Bruin for life.
Ryan Spooner: Reading these consecutively might make it seem like the Bruins had some sort of crazy luck with second round draft picks, but they struck again in the 2010 draft, choosing Ryan Spooner with the 45th overall pick. With Chris Kelly missing almost two months with a leg injury, Spooner has been given a lengthy opportunity to sign on the Bruins third line. He’s lived up to expectations, helping to transform the third line into a scoring threat.
Dougie Hamilton: Toronto sent the Bruins a trio of draft picks in return for All-Star forward Phil Kessel, one of which ended up being the ninth overall selection in 2011. With that pick, the Bruins selected defenseman Dougie Hamilton, a projected top five pick at the time. Hamilton has lived up to his billing to date, possessing top offensive skills and an improving defensive game. Hamilton looks poised to be the next top defenseman for the Bruins, and with the team’s current surplus on the back end, he’ll have the freedom to learn on the job.
Jordan Caron: The Bruins selected Jordan Caron with the 25th overall pick in 2009, but things have not quite panned out as expected. Caron has shown flashes of the potential that caught the Bruins attention, but his inconsistency has been his downfall. This season, Caron has been stuck as the 13th forward, while a handful of Providence Bruins forwards have been given a crack at the Bruins lineup. Barring an unforeseen change, it appears as though Caron may be seeking employment elsewhere come the summer.
Reilly Smith: Last summer, the Bruins decided to cut bait with Tyler Seguin, and in return they received quite a bounty from the Dallas Stars. While Reilly Smith wasn’t the headliner of the group coming to Boston, he has already had the greatest impact, ranked second on the team in goals scored and playing critical minutes alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the second line. He’s currently in the last year of his entry level contract, but keep an eye out for the Bruins to lock him up soon.
Loui Eriksson: The 2011 All-Star headlined the collection of players that Dallas sent to Boston in the Tyler Seguin deal, netting the Bruins a two-way winger capable of slotting into their top six. Thus far, injuries have limited Eriksson’s impact on the Bruins, relegating him to third line duty. The 28 year old is signed to a team-friendly deal through the 2015-2016 season.
Carl Soderberg: Carl Soderberg has one of the more interesting arrival stories on the current Boston Bruins roster. The Bruins traded for Soderberg in 2007, sending Hannu Toivonen to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for the then 21 year old Swede. Rather than joining the Bruins organization at that time, Soderberg remained in Sweden, choosing to play in the Elitserien (Swedish Elite League). He would spend the better part of six seasons playing professionally in Sweden before finally signing with the Bruins in the spring of 2013. Soderberg is currently in year two of a three year deal with the Bruins.
Chris Kelly: Peter Chiarelli made waves at the 2011 NHL trade deadline, completing three NHL level deals. Trading for Chris Kelly was the most under the radar move of the three, but has proved to be the best acquisition of the bunch. Kelly has taken on a leadership role on the team, earning one of the two A’s as alternate captain. So what did it cost the Bruins? Only their 2011 second round pick to Ottawa Senators. An asset well spent.
Daniel Paille: In October of 2009, the Bruins completed their first trade with the Buffalo Sabres, acquiring former first round pick Daniel Paille in exchange for a third round pick and a conditional fourth round pick. Paille has been a consistent presence on the penalty kill and a persistent forechecker that’s driven the fourth line. Paille is signed through next season,
Gregory Campbell: After a brutal collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 playoffs, the Bruins set off to re-load for a big push. The first big move they made was acquiring Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Dennis Wideman, their 2010 first round pick, and their 2010 third round pick. Campbell has exceeded expectations, logging valuable minutes on the penalty kill and the power play, while centering one of the best fourth lines in the NHL.
Dennis Seidenberg: At the 2010 trade deadline, the Bruins made a steal of a deal with the Florida Panthers, acquiring both Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski in exchange for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller, and Tampa Bay’s 2010 second round pick. The second round pick turned into Alexander Petrovic, leaving Florida with next to nothing to show for this trade. Seidenberg has emerged as the Bruins number two defenseman, playing a pivotal role in the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship.
Johnny Boychuk: The physical defenseman was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in 2008 in exchange for center Matt Hendricks. Hendricks has been a serviceable center for three different teams since the trade, while Boychuk has become a reliable top four defenseman for the Bruins, consistently logging more than 20 minutes of ice time per night.
Matt Bartkowski: The other piece in the Dennis Seidenberg trade, Matt Bartkowski has been a pleasant surprise. Peter Chiarelli was so confident in the 25 year old defenseman that he was willing to let Andrew Ference leave via free agency this summer. Bartkowski has shown improvement as this season has gone along, helping the Bruins overcome the loss of Dennis Seidenberg to injury.
Adam McQuaid: The Bruins acquired the stay-at-home defenseman from the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2007, giving up only a fifth round draft pick. McQuaid has been a stable presence on the back end for Boston, giving the Bruins another player that’s always willing to drop the gloves. McQuaid has won over the Bruins fan base with his fighting and his famed mullet.
Tuukka Rask: The Toronto Maple Leafs have certainly done their part in building the current Bruins team. They sent the draft picks that allowed Boston to select Dougie Hamilton and the now-departed Tyler Seguin in 2009, but before that, they gave the Bruins their goalie of the future. The Bruins traded former Calder Trophy winner Andrew Raycroft to the Leafs in exchange for the 2005 first round pick. Raycroft’s career began to decline shortly thereafter, while Tuukka Rask has become one of the best goalies in the league, leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals last season.
Free Agent Signings
Jarome Iginla: After spurning the Bruins at the trade deadline in the spring of 2013, Jarome Iginla came to his senses that summer and signed with the black and gold. He had big shoes to fill, replacing Nathan Horton who had left as a free agent. Iginla instantly found chemistry with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, keeping the first line running like a well-oiled machine. Iginla is only signed for this season, but based on how well he has fit in, an extended stay may be in order.
Shawn Thornton: The Bruins signed Shawn Thornton in the summer of 2007, inking the fourth liner to a three year deal. He’s now in his seventh season with the Bruins. Thornton’s been a mainstay on the fourth line, serving as a solid forechecker and the go-to fighter for the Bruins. He’s approaching the end of his career, but the Bruins, so far, have seemed willing to play it out year by year with Thornton.
Zdeno Chara: It’s not very common that you can sign a Norris Trophy candidate in his 20’s, but that’s just what Boston did when they inked the 29 year old Zdeno Chara in 2006. He instantly became the team’s captain and has transformed the Bruins into a top defensive team. When he joined forces with Coach Claude Julien in 2007, the results spoke for themselves. Chara is signed for another four years, likely playing out the rest of his career in Boston. If he keeps up his high level of play, his #33 could be the next number to hang in the rafters of the TD Garden.
Torey Krug: In 2012, the Bruins signed Torey Krug as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State. He signed a three year entry level contract, joining the team instantly. Krug really broke onto the scene in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals last spring, helping to kick-start the Bruins offense and leading them to the Stanley Cup Finals. Krug is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, though it seems unlikely that Peter Chiarelli and company will let him leave town.
Kevan Miller: Another undrafted free agent makes the list here, as the University of Vermont alum signed with the Bruins organization in 2010. Kevan Miller has spent most of the time since then in Providence, making his NHL debut earlier this season. He has elevated his game in Boston this year, warranting a two-year contract extension with the Bruins. His presence likely makes one of the other defenseman expendable going forward.
Chad Johnson: The final player on the roster, Chad Johnson signed on to be Tuukka Rask’s backup this summer. He faced some serious competition in training camp, mainly from Niklas Svedberg, but he has begun to shine in his extended playing time recently. Johnson is on a one year deal, leaving many to think he will be one and done in Boston. In the meantime, the Bruins will count on him to help rest Rask throughout the season.