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Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has caught a lot of flak from B’s fans this summer for what has amounted to an uneventful offseason since being soundly beaten by the Canadiens in the second round. Arguments have been tossed around that he his too loyal to his “core” guys and that a few bad contracts are hurting the B’s cap situation. While there may be some validity to these arguments, in truth Chiarelli has done a masterful job in piecing together an elite roster.
As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Just because the Bruins got bounced in the second round by their kryptonite Montreal doesn’t mean that they have something fundamentally wrong with their line-up. This is a team that finished first in the regular season and made a solid playoff push despite starting four rookie defensemen.
Some of the trade proposals thrown out on the twittersphere are not only ridiculous but so highly unlikely it’s not worth much of a discussion. Names like Evander Kane, Patrick Marleau, and Daniel Alfredsson are being thrown around as possible solutions to play that top winger spot on the first line. Truthfully, with the Bruins tight against the cap and so many young stars knocking on the door, this will likely be a quiet offseason. And that’s okay.
While the Bruins will miss Jarome Iginla’s heavy shot and goal scoring abilities, his departure is not a nail in the coffin for the Black and Gold. They’re going to start with Swedish winger Loui Eriksson playing on the top line, and this actually has potential to be a deadly weapon for the B’s. Eriksson is an underrated player in the league and Boston didn’t really get to see the best of him. After suffering from two concussions early in the season, he bounced back nicely and was playing his best late in the season and into the playoffs.
Though the cap situation is tight, this does present us with an exciting opportunity to see some of the youngsters play. Kids like Alexander Khokhlachev, Jared Knight, Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, Justin Florek, Anthony Camara, and Matt Lindblad are all good bets to see some NHL time in the fall. Every year, rookies exceed expectations in development camp and preseason and force their respective teams to readjust their roster to get them playing time. You don’t have to go back too far in Bruins’ history to see the days when Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, and even some older names like Matt Lashoff and Vladimir Sobotka all made the team as rookies.
Has Chiarelli been the most aggressive GM out there? No. But that’s because he hasn’t had to. He’s been proactive in signing his guys to multi-year deals so in the offseason he isn’t scrambling to piece together a roster like some other teams are. And you see some players like Kane and Jason Spezza forcing their GM’s hand by asking for a trade, but Chiarelli has done a careful job of bringing guys into the organization who aren’t hot heads or trouble in the locker room. When the situation does arise, he addresses it (see: Tyler Seguin.)
Another thing to keep in mind is that while it’s fun for us fans to make these big franchise-altering trades every offseason, Chiarelli’s job is to look toward the future. A quick look at www.CapGeek.com (which I highly recommend) shows that the Bruins have some key players with contracts expiring next summer: Dougie Hamilton, David Krejci, Carl Soderberg, and Johnny Boychuk. Each of these guys is due for a big pay raise and are obviously all guys we would like to see in a Bruins uniform going forward. Taking on a big contract like Marleau or Kane would only hamper their ability to re-sign those guys.
So really, Chiarelli’s inactivity isn’t a result of bad managing or loyalty to the wrong guys, but it’s actually a sign of how much ahead of the game he is. He’s built this franchise to be a Cup contender for years to come and that isn’t going to change. The future is bright in the Hub of Hockey.