3 Mistakes Bruins GM Don Sweeney Made During the 2022 Offseason

Boston Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney has made some good moves this summer, most notably re-signing Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to below-value contracts, and that alone deserves a lot of praise. However, it’s also fair to say that Sweeney has made some mistakes that could end up negatively impacting the team. Here’s a look at where he went wrong.

Sweeney Has Yet to Extend David Pastrnak

Earlier this offseason, Sweeney told reporters that he would be aggressive about extending David Pastrnak‘s contract. Yet, as we inch closer to training camp, it doesn’t seem that much progress has been made on that front. Unless things drastically change, there’s a good chance that Pastrnak will enter the 2022-23 season without a contract extension. The fact that this could happen makes this Sweeney’s biggest mistake, in my opinion.

David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If Sweeney continues to wait to extend Pastrnak, the chance of him leaving will slowly increase. That is a very scary prospect to think about, as the 2014 first-round pick is the only star forward on the Bruins who is younger than 30 years old. Furthermore, he is the club’s best goal-scorer by far, so Sweeney needs to do all he can to get him locked up long-term. If he doesn’t, very dark days are ahead for Boston.

Thankfully, there is still time to extend Pastrnak before the start of the season. However, if talks remain stagnant and the Czech winger begins this season without a new deal, Sweeney should feel the brunt of the criticism. Here’s hoping things rapidly change, and Sweeney can fix this mistake before the season begins.

Sweeney Only Signed Pavel Zacha for 2022-23 Season

It was a surprise when the Bruins traded Erik Haula to the New Jersey Devils for Pavel Zacha. Haula proved to be the team’s top free-agent signing last offseason, but it still wasn’t enough for him to stick in Boston. However, Zacha also has the potential to make an impact with the Bruins and is just 25 years old, so he has room for improvement. I have no issue with this trade and think it could end up being a win for the Bruins.

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However, I am concerned that Sweeney only signed Zacha for one season. Unfortunately, the 2015 first-round pick is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) next summer. If Zacha puts together a career year in Boston, he will almost certainly test the market in 2023, and the Bruins could lose him for nothing, which would sting.

In 70 games last season, Zacha scored 15 goals and 36 points. Overall, that kind of production is solid, and it will be welcomed with open arms in the Bruins’ lineup. Yet, he is capable of doing even more offensively. In just 50 games during 2020-21, he had 17 goals and 35 points. If he can put together a campaign like that in Boston, Sweeney might regret signing him for only one year.

Sweeney Failed to Re-Sign Curtis Lazar

During his Bruins tenure, Curtis Lazar was greatly underappreciated by many. Although he never dominated the scoresheet, he was one of the rare Bruins who provided the team with the grit and sandpaper they have been lacking for years. However, that wasn’t enough for Sweeney to re-sign him, and Lazar is now a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

Curtis Lazar Boston Bruins
Curtis Lazar, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Although the Bruins are dealing with salary cap issues, Lazar only signed a three-year, $3 million contract with the Canucks. At that point of the offseason, the Bruins could have found a way to fit him onto the roster, but Sweeney decided against it. Although Lazar isn’t a star, the team will miss his toughness and tenacity. Keep in mind that they have already received criticism for being too easy to play against, and losing Lazar has added to that narrative.

Lazar did all he could to earn himself another contract from the Bruins. In 70 games, he set new career-highs with eight goals, 16 points, 186 hits, and 51 blocks in 2021-22. Overall, he did everything that was asked of a fourth-liner and fit the description of a classic Bruin. Losing him will negatively impact the team in 2022-23. This is especially true if he takes that next step offensively with the Canucks.

Although Sweeney has done some good things this offseason, he also has made some mistakes. It will be worth keeping track of how these decisions impact the Bruins in the present and future.

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