The Boston Bruins made 32 consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after failing to
qualify for eight straight seasons from 1960-67. They are now in danger of missing the postseason
in back-to-back campaigns for the third time since the end of the 1900s.
Boston had been somewhat of a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference from 2008-14, winning four
division titles and its first Stanley Cup since 1972, while also making another trip to the Final
in that span. But the team found itself on the outside of the playoff picture last season as it
finished two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild-card spot in the East.
Ownership did not take kindly to the club’s misfortunes and fired general manager Peter Chiarelli
in April. He was replaced a month later by former Bruins defenseman Don Sweeney, who had served
as Chiarelli’s assistant since 2010.
Things have gotten off to a rocky start for Sweeney as he attempts to get Boston back into the
postseason. Some, however, are perceiving his actions as form of rebuilding the club.
Sweeney’s first move was trading center Carl Soderberg to the Colorado Avalanche for a sixth-
round pick in 2016 on the eve of this year’s draft. The following day, he dealt restricted free-
agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for three draft selections, including the
15th overall pick, and sent Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings for goaltender Martin Jones,
defensive prospect Colin Miller and the 13th pick.
The latter two deals gave the Bruins three consecutive selections in the first round of the
draft, as they already owned the 14th overall pick. They used the picks on a defenseman and two
forwards, but none are likely to begin the season on the roster.
Jones’ stay in Beantown was a brief one as Sweeney shipped the netminder to the San Jose Sharks
for a first-round pick in next year’s draft just four days after acquiring him. The following
day, Reilly Smith was traded to the Florida Panthers for Boston native Jimmy Hayes.
Sweeney made a few more additions, signing Matt Beleskey and defenseman Matt Irwin as free agents
while obtaining scrappy forward Zac Rinaldo from the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2016 draft pick.
But several Bruins departed via free agency, with Gregory Campbell signing with the Columbus Blue
Jackets and blue-liner Matt Bartkowski heading to the Pacific Northwest to play for the Vancouver
Boston is counting on plenty of production from Hayes and Beleskey after both recorded career
seasons in 2014-15. The former, who was a restricted free agent when acquired, signed a three-
year contract worth $6.9 million, while the latter inked a five-year, $19.8 million deal.
The 25-year-old Hayes was third on the Panthers with 19 goals and finished with 35 points in 72
games after registering 17 and 31 in 96 contests over his first three NHL seasons. Beleskey also
ranked third in goals for the Anaheim Ducks, doubling his previous career high with 22 –
including eight game-winners, which placed him in a tie for third in the league with four other
Beleskey carried his scoring touch into the playoffs, as he recorded eight goals, including a
team-high three game-winners, in 16 games to finish two behind Corey Perry for the club lead. The
27-year-old left wing from Ontario tallied five times in 18 contests over the previous three
While it’s possible Hayes and Beleskey can replace Lucic (18 goals, 44 points) and Smith (13, 40)
offensively, goaltender Tuukka Rask could be in for some rough nights considering the state of
the Bruins’ defense. Captain Zdeno Chara appears to be slowing down at the age of 38 and the team
has not found anyone to replace the offense provided by Hamilton, who led Boston blue-liners with
42 points last season.
The usual production from the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand, the
continued development of David Pastrnak and a healthy season for David Krejci would all go a long
way toward helping Boston get back to the postseason. But unless the defense tightens up, the
Bruins could be in for another disappointment come playoff time.