Could Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney be looking at his last run with the club? During The Hockey Show on 98.5 the SportsHub last weekend, Bob Beers reaffirmed what Bruins President Cam Neely stated during the preseason: “expectations are high”. After a very busy 2021 offseason, the Bruins currently sit in a wildcard spot and are positioned for another playoff berth. Making playoffs is the first step, albeit a must, but how far can this currently constructed Bruins team go in the playoffs?
Sweeney’s offseason prior to the 2021-2022 season
The Bruins shed quite a few hefty contracts this past offseason, thus giving Sweeney and his team roughly $27 million in cap space to work with. He signed free agents Linus Ullmark, Erik Haula, Derek Forbort and Nick Foligno, along with resigning Mike Reilly and several minor league deals. Now that we’re a little over the halfway mark on the season, let’s assess.
Ullmark, while fans have been off and on hoping to trade him and his No Movement Clause (NMC), has arguably been the best free agent signing. With the news of Tuukka Rask retiring, Ullmark becomes the number one guy. Erik Haula has stepped in formidably as the second line center between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. Derek Forbort has brought some admirable shutdown defensive play and replaced the hole on the penalty kill left by Jeremy Lauzon. Then there is Nick Foligno, who has been far and away the biggest disappointing signing thus far.
Sweeney and the Trade deadline
The Bruins head towards the March 21st deadline with some rather familiar pieces needing to be added. Specifically, they need a top end defender and potentially some additional depth on the back end. There is also a need for a productive top 6 forward. Last trade deadline, Sweeney was able to nab Taylor Hall in a deal controlled by Hall, who at the time had a No Trade Clause (NTC). Following the teams’ second round exit last postseason, the team saw the departure of long time second line center David Krejci. Thus, opening another hole on the second line.
Sweeney’s outlook as the Bruins GM
Sweeney has been critiqued with his free agent signings in the past. The past few seasons Sweeney has gone out and acquired bottom six talent to round out his roster. Whether fans want to hear it or not, it all circles back to Sweeney’s inability to draft young talent. The inability to bring in young players on Entry Level Contracts (ELCs) has forced him to spend extra for guys in his bottom six forward group and on the backend. All this spending in order to patch up Sweeney’s shortcomings has drained the team’s current draft picks and prospects pool. All these choices caused by a trickle-down effect from an inability to bring in young talent and that facet of Sweeney’s job will forever be criticized once Sweeney’s tenure as the Bruins GM has ended.
(Image Source: bostonherald.com)
-Josh Croteau (@_jcro on Twitter)
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