Don’t let the recent success in Canada fool you, the Boston Bruins are not a great team right now. They are currently fourth in the Atlantic Division and are in playoff position for the first time. They remain mostly a one line team. Depth scoring has been a problem for a quite some time now, and the new additions are not helping the cause. This has been an ongoing problem because of the incompetence of the front office and the overwhelming feeling of complacency.
Front Office And The Roster – Defense
It is time for Don Sweeney and his management core to ship out of Boston. Bad drafting and not willing to pull the trigger in free agency have set the franchise back. The biggest need going into the season was the improvement of the defense pairings. And yet, only one addition was made – that being Derek Forbort. He is a big body that the Bruins need more of. Instead, they continue to throw Matt Grzelcyk, Jakub Zboril, John Moore, and Connor Clifton out there and they are just not getting the job done. Granted Clifton got a goal on the Western Canada swing, but he has largely been a non factor.
The Boston Bruins also extended Mike Riley, Brandon Carlo, and Charlie McAvoy. Obviously McAvoy is the best of the bunch and is probably the one player Sweeney has hit on in the draft. Carlo was injury prone in 2020 but was extended because he is solid when healthy. Reilly has taken a huge step back since coming over in a trade from Ottawa. The defensemen in the AHL have not seen enough NHL action to become full time NHL players. When they have gotten a chance (John Moore being one of them), they did not make a difference.
Front Office And The Roster – Forwards
The biggest blunder here is Jake DeBrusk, who has requested a trade. DeBrusk should have left Boston a long time ago and instead he was awarded an extension after the bubble. His value is at an all time low. Other than the top line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pasternak, no other line regularly chips in with scoring. The second line production has dropped off dramatically, and the bottom six most times are nonexistent.
This is nothing new. Erik Haula and Nick Foligno have basically become the Ondrej Kase of the 2021 season. Kase was acquired by the Bruins from Anaheim before the shutdown in exchange for a first round pick and David Backes. He had one point in the bubble and played in two or three games the following season as he dealt with injures, and put up zero points. Meanwhile he is having a resurgence in Toronto. Haula has already been benched once and demoted to the fourth line. Foligno has added nothing to the team thus far. Additionally, Karson Kuhlman continues to get an opportunity and also does nothing. There were good young players in free agency but the team passed on them.
Short Term Solutions
We already talked about the first line. There is really no sense to break them up. The fourth line of Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, and Curtis Lazar has some buzz to them. Due to injuries and the Marchand suspension, the Bruins for a few games had Haula, Charlie Coyle, and Craig Smith on the second line. They performed well together, so why not try it again? That leaves the third line. Taylor Hall needs to be demoted due to lack production and overall effort. Putting him on the third line with Tomas Nosek (when healthy) and Foligno is an interesting idea. In my opinion, it makes the most sense to shut down DeBrusk until they find a trade partner for him or send him back to Providence.
As much as the defense needs a reset, the Bruins can’t shake up anything right now unless they swing a trade. Linus Ullmark had two good outings in net which is an encouraging sign that he might be starting to settle in after a rough start to the season. Jeremy Swayman has mostly been good as well. In the grand scheme of things, the Boston Bruins are not in terrible shape, but they are not a playoff team the way they are constructed.
Follow our Twitter
Check out our shop