In this instant gratification world we live in today the firing of Peter Chiarelli and the ushering in of Don Sweeney satisfied a lot of Bruins appetites. The old face was quickly gone, the new one was familiar, warm, and easily accepted. Then The Don started going to work and the results were not instantly well received by “shoot the puck!” and “hit him!” screaming barstool GM’s throughout New England.
Lucic, Dougie, Reilly and what feels like their bazillion dollars are all gone to other teams. And after what felt like a team without any fight last year, in comes a welcomed change of energy on the rise in Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, and a barrel full of draft picks. In that barrel the Bruins held five, yes five, 1st round picks with three being used this summer and two in the back pocket next year. And by all accounts this years development camp was the deepest and most impressive the Bruins have had in some years with Sweeney and director of amateur scouting Keith Gretzky’s newest picks on hand. Just that scenario alone is such a nice feeling as a Bruins fan.
It never seemed like the system could sustain itself. And it was rapidly proving it couldn’t. Aside from David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner recently, you couldn’t head out to the farm in Providence and find much in the way of studs to develop or push those on the NHL roster. Before you could. David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, Kevan Miller (how many more should I list?) all developed in Providence. You didn’t really get the feeling that successful model was even part of the Bruins plan. Instead, you felt Chiarelli would draft poor, trade for mediocrity, and continue to hand out Powerball winners to those who shouldn’t be so handsomely rewarded.
At this point in the summer with the farm already starting to be replenished correctly I feel what may be the wisest move so far by Don Sweeney is the move he hasn’t made yet. The move to get the top-4 defenseman they need to add. I’ve been screaming like a newborn baby to not sign Cody Franson, the man known as “the last best free agent” on the market. The man who was traded for a 1st round pick this past spring by Nashville only to be able to walk out the door shortly after without a fight. I don’t think Cody Franson is bad and I don’t think he’d hurt the Bruins. I think he’d actually help the Bruins. But he isn’t worth the price tag Chiarelli would have gave him within an hour of free agency opening on July 1st. Andrej Sekera satisfied that lust in Edmonton.
Don Sweeney is taking the best salary-cap-era NHL approach he can and people should applaud him for it. He created cap space needed so they can go get, and pay, a player who should actually get paid. Not pay some one because their name was listed in the game day program during the 2011 Stanley Cup season. He’s feeding the farm the proper way, knowing long-term success will depend on the affordable boys coming in from Providence. And he’s not jumping the gun on filling a defensive spot.
Sweeney’s patience with the defensive situation is what will ultimately make his appointment to GM with the task of fixing Chiarelli’s mess pay off. If he’s going to dip into free agency to fill the void of Dougie not wanting to be a Bruin, and Cody Franson won’t accept what he really is financially, then he shouldn’t look further than Marek Zidlicky. Affordable, short-term, and as reliable of a band-aid as you can find. But I think he’ll go to the market this summer, maybe even using Boston’s 1st or 2nd rounder next year (and/or Chiarelli’s former draft pick Malcolm Subban), in a trade and get the stud defenseman he really wants.
The Bruins may not be a Cup team right now but Don Sweeney has already successfully, to a point, made them much more flexible and ready to pounce on the right move. He’s stopped the bleeding out of talent and dollars by making hard decisions based off of his vision of how you sustain success. And creating that environment so quickly has put him in a position to be selective with the defense, and as thorough and smart with them as he should be.