June 26, 2015 is a day that will long be remembered by the Boston Bruins and their fans for all the wrong reasons.
Worst day in the 90-plus year history of the Boston Bruins? If not, damn close. Definitely the most self-inflicted damage methinks.
— Jesse Connolly (@jtchockey) June 27, 2015
General manager Don Sweeney had yet to make his mark since being promoted to the big chair after the firing of Peter Chiarelli back in April. On Thursday, he made up for lost time by making a few controversial moves that will be talked about long into the summer.
Dougie Goes To Calgary
The first big move of the day saw Sweeney part ways with impending restricted free agent Dougie Hamilton. The 21-year-old defenseman was traded to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Calgary’s first-round pick (15) and two second-round selections (45 and 52); all in this year’s draft. In the end, Hamilton’s camp sought a contract that the Bruins could not match, even though Sweeney told the media the club “extended a very significant contract offer” to the ninth-overall pick in 2012.
Interestingly, Boston’s boss admitted he had doubts about Hamilton’s desire to stay on Causeway Street for the near future.
“I felt Hamilton wouldn’t be comfortable in Boston long term.”
What exactly does he mean by “comfortable?” Was Hamilton not ready to handle the pressure of being Boston’s No. 1 defenseman? Was there an underlying issue with management?
The official trade is Dougie Hamilton for the 15th overall and two second round picks. Highway robbery.
— The NHL Files (@TheNHLFiles) June 26, 2015
Regardless, the return on Hamilton was quite underwhelming for a player that could have netted the Bruins a more significant package. Instead, they had to settle for three draft picks while Calgary acquired another defenseman to improve their depth and star power on the blue line.
Lucic To Los Angeles
Soon after trading Hamilton, Sweeney sent another player packing that had been a Bruin since being drafted in 2006.
Milan Lucic was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for LA’s first-rounder (13), goaltender Martin Jones and prospect Colin Miller. Boston’s cap struggles played a role as the winger was due to make $6 million next season and become a free agent in 2016. As part of the deal, the Bruins will retain $2.7 million of his salary.
Jones is a solid acquisition for Sweeney as the Black and Gold needed a reliable backup goalie behind franchise netminder Tuukka Rask. The Finnish goaltender played in a club-record 70 games last season due to a lack in confidence of Niklas Svedberg and their race for the postseason.
In his short NHL career, Jones has a 16-11-2 record with a sub-two goals against average, a .923 save percentage and seven shutouts in 34 games played.
Miller is regarded as one of the top defensive prospects in the Kings system and was a key contributor to the Calder Cup Champion Manchester Monarchs this season in the AHL. The 22-year old recorded 19 goals and 51 points in 70 games this season, second amongst all AHL defensemen.
It was a tough deal for Sweeney to make but in the end, he got a sizeable return for Lucic.
13, 14, 15
The Bruins ended up with picks 13, 14 and 15 in this year’s draft, marking the first time in the modern era (1970) any team held three consecutive picks of a draft.
Sweeney chose Czech defenseman Jakub Zboril from St. John’s in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at 13.
The 6-foot-1-inch defenseman is not afraid to be tough and physical, but is not polished offensively. It will take some time for him to develop into the two-way defenseman the Bruins hope he will become.
Next, Boston went a bit off the board in selecting left-winger Jake DeBrusk from Swiff Current in the Western Hockey League.
The 6-foot-1-inch forward lit the lamp 42 times this season and is known to be a quick, powerful skater with good hands and a booming shot. His defensive game will need some work before DeBrusk can become a solid NHL player.
It is interesting to note he is the son of former NHL pugilist Louie DeBrusk.
For their final first-round selection, Boston went far off the beaten path, selecting Zach Senyshyn of Sault Ste. Marie in the Ontario Hockey League.
The 18-year-old right winger potted 26 goals and 45 points in his only season with the club. Director of Amateur Scouting Keith Gretzky took a massive gamble going with a player that was projected by many as an early second-round pick.
It was not received well by fans as the pick used to draft Senyshyn was acquired by the Bruins in the Hamilton contract earlier in the day.
Four Years of McQuaid
BOS agrees to terms with D Adam McQuaid. Four years, AAV of $2.75M. #TSN
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 26, 2015
Lost in the fog of the Hamilton and Lucic trades, 28-year-old Adam McQuaid re-signed with the club on a four-year contract worth $11 million.
The defenseman was slated to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent on July 1. McQuaid recorded a goal and six assists in 63 games last season. He had the third-lowest Corsi-For percentage on the blue line (45.13), ahead of only Dennis Seidenberg and Kevan Miller.
It is a little bit puzzling for a team with documented salary cap issues to re-sign a player who has missed 87 games in the past two-and-a-half-seasons. Sweeney said that McQuaid “brings the edge and physicality that [the Bruins] need to maintain“, yet one of his biggest challenges is staying healthy.
This has the potential to be another bad contract in the long list of already poor deals on the roster. Sweeney has no one but himself to blame if it does not work out.
It was a wild, wacky rollercoaster ride that tugged on the hearts of Bruins fans around New England. Hamilton and Lucic are gone while Sweeney could have used the three-first round picks to acquire something better. In the end, he failed to do so.
As the club enters free agency next week, where will they go from here? What is Boston’s plan for next season? We will all find out soon enough.