Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Bruins Front Office Stinks

(Editor's note: I wrote this whole post without a title because I wanted to see where my research took me. And then I got to the end and came up with a title that should not be controversial at all because it is a factual statement.)

I am not a big Boston Bruins fan. I was a pseudo-fan in college because (1) three of my roommates were big Bruins fans and (2) they were good and I watched them make playoff runs basically all through college.

But I never followed the team online or behind the scenes like I follow the Flyers.

I know they traded Joe Thornton and Tyler Seguin away at different points in the past decade (and I know the common thought is they got swindled on the Seguin deal) but I've never really looked into comparing those trades. Today, Rear Admiral blogged on Barstool about supporting Thornton in a Sharks jersey this year, and it made me curious.

Let's dive into the hallmark personnel moves for the GM careers of Mike O'Connell and Peter Chiarelli.

December 2005

San Jose received: F Joe Thornton
Boston received: F Marco Sturm, F Wayne Primeau, F Brad Stuart

ESPN said: "San Jose sacrificed three members of their young core for Thornton, one of the NHL's top power forwards."

That trade isn't rare by any means - one team turned a solidified NHL contributor into younger pieces to build for the future. The term "hockey trade" usually means trading one player straight-up for another, but this type of move is probably more common for big-name players. 

And Thornton was certainly a big-name player at this point, which is why it's a weird move in retrospect. Four months before the trade, the Bruins had signed him to a 3-year deal to keep him in Boston through his twenties. He led the Bruins in points (and assists) the previous two years. He had also captained them to the playoffs twice (as the 7 seed in 2003 and the 2 seed in 2004). 

Despite the fact that they lost to the Canadiens in the first round 2-7 series, they were an improving team. And then they ditched their 26 year old captain, missed the 2004-05 season because of the lockout, and finished 13th in the East in 2005-06. One fun note: they used the high pick from finishing so poorly to draft Phil Kessel in 2006. Just keep that in mind for the the next 30 seconds or so. 

Obviously, Cups speak louder than anything, and the 2011 banner hanging in TD Garden makes it seem like moving on from Jumbo Joe was the right move. But did Marco, Wayne, or Brad really do anything? Their primary contribution was stinking and allowing the team to draft Kessel, Lucic, and Marchand.

And then our intermission trade happened.

September 2009

Toronto received: F Phil Kessel
Boston received: The picks that became F Tyler Seguin, D Dougie Hamilton, and lifetime minor leaguer Jared Knight

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke said: "Bringing Phil Kessel aboard, it's a statement to our players that we intend to be competitive right away, and I think he gives us a dimension that we need."

The Leafs then promptly finished 15th, 10th, 13th, 5th, 12th, and 15th before shipping Kessel to Pittsburgh for picks and prospects. It's worth a mention that the year they finished 5th and made the playoffs they were knocked out by the Bruins in the first round. Game Seven of this series was the "It Was 4-1" game that you might have heard about, and a 21 year old Seguin finished the series with 1 assist and 29 shots on goal. 

Bonus ESPN said: "Kessel gives the Leafs a powerful offensive threat, though giving up three high draft picks appears to be quite costly. But the Leafs also have several promising rookies in Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg, Nazem Kadri and Christian Hanson."

Would you rather:
  • 2 players: 686 NHL games, 197 goals, 481 points, 68 playoff games, 31 playoff points
  • 4 players: 1,216 NHL games, 262 goals, 625 points, 55 playoff games, 15 playoff points
It's worth mentioning that about a third of the regular season production (and almost all of the playoff production) came from Stalberg's time with the Chicago Blackhawks and not the Maple Leafs. 

Sorry, I got sidetracked. But I like when the Leafs are bad. Moving on!

July 2013

Dallas received: F Tyler Seguin, F Rich Peverley, lifetime minor leaguer Ryan Button
Boston received: F Loui Eriksson, D Joe Morrow, F Matt Faser (who was waived in 2014), F Reilly Smith (who was traded for F Jimmy Hayes)

Stars GM Jim Nill said: "It wasn't an easy trade for either party to make."

What an idiot! Fire Jim Nill right now. Somebody call @OldTakesExposed

Listen, obviously Dallas "won" this trade. Seguin is one of their franchise cornerstones and he's part of the highest-scoring duo of the past two years.

But, unlike the Thornton trade, I can see the logic behind the Bruins' move here. Boston had an aging core and wanted to bring in a more established player while also shedding Peverley's cap hit. Hindsight is 20/20, and Seguin was far from a sure thing at age 21. Eriksson, at age 28, was an established hired gun to complement the similarly-aged Bergeron, Krejci, and Marchand. 

My best guess is Boston knew the window was eventually going to shut, and I guess it made more sense for them to load up for a few years of runs with Eriksson, who was less costly:
  • Eriksson (expires this summer): $4.25 million cap hit
  • Seguin (signed after the trade, expires summer 2019): $5.75 million cap hit
Factor in Peverley's $3.25 million cap hit and you can understand the logic behind spending less than half the money. 

But (and this is a big but)... 

Seguin turned into a stud. 

Knowing what we know now, obviously this was a stupid trade for the Bruins. It might even be stupider than the Thornton trade (give it like five more years before we judge it). They gave away franchise-caliber players for role players and no-names, and didn't really compete with those acquired players on the roster. 

The only thing that will save Boston is if they bottom out next year and the following year, draft two cornerstone players, and load up for a run in 2019. But by that point, Bergeron and Krejci will both be 33 and making a combined $14 million. 

If 2019 is the target (four seasons after the trade, like it was with Thornton), then Boston should want a player in his mid-twenties to lead them (like Lucic, Krejci, Bergeron, and Horton did in 2011). How old is Tyler Seguin going to be in 2019? 

27. Would that work? 

No comments:

Post a Comment