Since Don Sweeney replaced former General Manager Peter Chiarelli three years ago, the Bruins find themselves as serious Stanley Cup Contenders. The 37-15-8 and Bruins are in second place of the NHL Eastern Conference. Only five points separate the team from the first place Tampa Bay Lightning. In this article, we’ll cover three areas that are paying dividends for this year’s Black and Gold. Roster Overhaul; Since the teams successful Presidential Cup year in 2012 the Bruins have not gotten by the first round of the playoffs in three tries. With consecutive losses to Montreal and an early exit at the hands of Ottawa last season the Bruins now seem to have found an identity. The first order of business three years ago was to dismiss General Manager Peter Chiarelli. Since Chiarelli’s dismissal in 2015 Sweeney has completely turned the team around. Midway through last season, the club fired longtime coach Claude Julian. Julian was replaced by longtime Providence coach Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy responded by guiding the team back into the playoffs for the first time in two years. Despite a first_ round loss to the Senators. Despite an early exit, Bruin fans found a reason for optimism. A Mixture Of Youth And Veterans; Since Sweeney’s arrival, three year’s ago Bruins fans have seen the likes of Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton, Jerome Iginla, Chad Johnson and Reily Smith all depart. Enter Charlie McAvoy, Danton Heinen, Jake De Brusk, Anders Bjork, and Sean Kuraly. All have bought into Bruce Cassidy’s style of play and it shows on the ice every night. Only Tampa Bay, Nashville, Washington and Las Vegas have more points. The new faces seem to click with veterans David Krejci Patrice Bergeron, Adam McQuaid, David Pastrnak, and Tuukka Rask. If the chemistry and good coaching continue the Bruins may have an excellent chance of getting to the finals. Rotating Goalies; One of the biggest differences in this year’s success is the rotating of goaltenders. Veteran Tuukka Rask is having a great season 24-18 and a 2.21 GAA in 40 games while backup Anton Khudobin is 13-4- in 23 games with an impressive 2.41 GAA .Keeping both goaltenders fresh and sharp may play a big factor come playoff time. No matter what the end result is hockey is fun again on Causeway Street. The Bruins have their old swagger back. The Bruins are playing like the Black and Gold team fans are used to seeing. After a flurry of activity the past week Sweeney has acquired Rick Nash, Nick Holden, and Black Hawks forward Tom Wingel. If the chemistry continues then the dividends hopefully will be another Stanley Cup.
Little late on the wagon here, but Keaton Ellerby has been traded from the Florida Panthers to the LA Kings in exchange for a 2013 5th Round Pick. Just an opinion here, I expect him to either be sent to the Monarchs, or be the six defenseman with Drew Drewiske being sent down. As the tenth overall pick in 2007, he certainly hasn’t been living up to his potential. Players such as Ryan McDonaugh (11th), Kevin Shattenkirk (14th) have been leaving their footprint in their respective NHL teams. Just going to give you guys a little scouting report on Ellerby. Skinny 6’4 Defenseman out of Okotoks, Alberta. He’s a shutdown defender who has the potential of greatness. Do not expect him to be the next Erik Karlsson. He’s the type of guy you want on the back end just to stable the ship. He will not have highlight reel hits or flashy goals, but he will be the first one in back in a rush. He’s a good skater, but has trouble staying out of the penalty box. If he worked on his frame and his discipline, he could become a good second pair defenseman.
It’s really hard to say who wins the trade because with a draft pick, you really never know if they will pan out. You can have gems like Pavel Datsyuk (171st) and Carl Gunnarsson (194th), but you can also have top picks not pan out, most notably Hugh Jessiman (12th) and Alexandre Daigle (1st). If you come back to me a few years from now when the draft pick has developed a bit i’ll give you a definitive answer.