Boston Bruins Offseason in Review

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By Rob Finney
Boston Bruins Writer
Offseason (so far) in Review
                                Well, it’s that time of the year again. It’s a slow summer day, as we all await the beginning of the NHL season. Luckily, we have the World Cup of Hockey in September to tide us over, but nevertheless, we want NHL hockey. With only one important date left in this offseason (Aug. 15, Jimmy Vesey becomes a free agent), I’ll take a look back at the Bruins’ moves on the previous two important dates; draft day, and free agency.
Draft Day:
            While the Bruins were speculated in many trade rumors, only one came to avail. Their 2016 7th round draft pick, in exchange for the Panthers 2017 7th round pick. Besides that “blockbuster”, the Bruins stood pat and made their selections at 14th, 29th, 49th, 135th, 136th, and 156th. At 14, the Bruins selected Charlie McAvoy, the rookie defenseman from Boston University. He played 37 games, where he racked up 25pts (3g. 22a) alongside his defensive partner (and fellow Bruins prospect) Matt Grzelcyk. With the 29th pick, the Bruins reached, according to multiple scouts, by selecting C Trent Frederic. Frederic has been projected by Keith Gretzky, the director of amateur scouting for the Bruins, saying “…he’s not going to be a top two line guy. We know that. He has some jam.” He has some jam. Great. “With the 29th pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, the Bruins select Jack Gibson from the University of Welch’s!” Leave it to the Bruins to draft Chris Kelly 2.0 with the 29th pick, instead of taking a chance on a back-to-back 50 goal scorer like Alex DeBrincat. For all we know, Frederic will look like a bad pick, and then prove his worth like Zachary Senyshyn did this year. Either way, it doesn’t look pretty. The B’s rounded out their draft by selecting D Ryan Lindgren (U.S. NTDP), LW Joona Koppanen (Ilves-jr), D Cameron Clarke (NAHL), and C Oskar Steen (Farjestad-jr).
Free Agency:
           Just over a week later, July 1st arrived. The Bruins had their fair share of free agents, including 15 UFA’s. The Bruins ended up losing nine of those players to free agency, but resigning John-Michael Liles and Tyler Randell, with the other four UFA’s still on the market. None of those losses are expected to make a significant impact, except for one; Loui Eriksson. Eriksson’s time in Boston was rather short, and slightly impactful. In three of his seasons in Boston, one was injury riddled, and the other two were non-playoff seasons. He was more of a quiet player, as in his play on the ice was usually undetectable and forgotten about. Although the 30-goal scorer would normally be hard to replace, the Bruins made a splash of their own by signing long-time captain of the St. Louis Blues, David Backes. Backes is known for his hard nosed play, and his “no crap taking” attitude. Used as a brute force in front of the net, the ex-captain can play either RW, or C, providing flexibility in the top-9. The signing could be taken as a nod and let teams know that either Ryan Spooner, or David Krejci are available, but that remains to be seen. Number 42 will prove to be an excellent player for the B’s, but for how long? The player acquisition is great, but the contract isn’t. As expected in free agency, teams usually have to give up more money and term than they’d like, as the case is here with Backes getting 5yrs, two too many, and $30 million, $5 million too much. It’s clear the Bruins overpaid, but I think the first three years of his services will bode well for them. One more signing that maybe flew under the radar, was resigning RFA defenseman Torey Krug to a 4yr, $21M contract, with an AAV of 5.25M. Although the term is significantly reasonable, the money might also be too. Krug had an off year last year, only managing to score four goals in 81 games. The brightside is that he still had 40 assists, racking up a career-high 44pts. So even in an off year, Krug is still a 40-point defenseman. Defensively, Krug is still learning the game, and clearly progressed in that area last year. Unfortunately, playing top-4 minutes for an NHL season required him to have shoulder surgery, and he might miss the first month of the season. So while the Bruins just locked up a potential terrific top-4 offensive defenseman, they have to make sure he can play those kind of minutes every night, but I think they might end up on top of this deal when it’s all said and done.
Looking Forward:
        The most important date for the Bruins is August 15th, when Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey becomes a UFA. In his interview with Joe Haggerty of CSNNE, he sounded extremely professional. He said everything that’s already been said, including that there’s a short list of teams he’ll be visiting with. One of which is his hometown Bruins. When he talked about the Bruins, it seemed as if he already imagined donning the black and gold sweater, and he liked it. In my opinion, it sounds and looks like he’s going to the Bruins. The only team I’m afraid that’ll get in the way, is not the Maple Leafs, but the Chicago Blackhawks. Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville have already visited his summer league games, and the idea of playing with 3-time Champion Jonathan Toews, might sound more appealing than anything else. It remains to be seen who Jimmy Vesey selects, but I believe the Bruins are leading the charge as of now. With the NHL season less than 80 days away, the Bruins have still yet to find a legit top-2 or top-4 pairing defenseman that can jump in and give them more puck mobility. The rumors of Kevin Shattenkirk being traded could benefit Boston. One has to believe the Bruins are in on him, as they already have been before, and they have enough assets to give for him. Doug Armstrong’s asking price for Shattenkirk would have to be reasonable for the Bruins, as giving up a player like Pastrnak would be an extreme overpayment. Either way, it’s not even halfway through the offseason, and the Bruins still have plenty of time to fix their defense. Until next time, keep refreshing those hockey twitter feeds, as we all await any sort of news in this slow summer.

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