A look at former Bruins in the playoffs
Throughout the postseason, Bruins Daily will highlight how former Bruins are faring with their new team(s) in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This week, a popular defenseman in Long Island leads the way for their hockey team, and a couple of former Bruins (pre-2011) finally advance to the postseason.
There’s no denying that Boychuk has thrived with the Islanders after he was dealt from Boston before the start of the 2014-15 regular season. The former Bruin is picking up right where he left off after a stellar 82-game season in Long Island, where he tallied a career-high 35 points (9 goals, 16 assists).
As the Isles top defensemen, Boychuk is assigned the tough task of matching up against Alex Ovechkin and so far he’s done a great job taking away the Caps’ superstar, who has one goal in the first three games of their series.
In the Isles’ Game 3 overtime win on Sunday, the 2002 second round pick led all players with 26:23 of ice time and hammered down five hits in the process.
It’s safe to say that Boychuk is still surely missed in The Hub of Hockey. Don’t believe me? Just ask Don Cherry, who thinks the Boychuk trade was the primary reason why Peter Chiarelli was relieved of his duties as General Manager last week.
“The reason that Chiarelli got fired in Boston, and why they’re out of the playoffs, is getting rid of Boychuk,” the former Bruins coach said during his first intermission Coach’s Corner segment in Game 3 of the Canadiens-Senators series on Rogers SportsNet on Sunday night. “You want to get the cap down, but you should have taken somebody else. [Islanders GM] Garth Snow took an awful lot of heat, and he’s laughing now. [Boychuk] is one of the best defensemen in the league.”
To quote the legendary local sportscaster Bob Loebel: “Why can’t we get players like that?”
Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart
It’s been a long journey back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Wheeler and Stuart. The two were dealt to the then Atlanta Thrashers in February, 2011, in a trade that landed Rich Peverley in Boston.
Four years later — and a move to Winnipeg — Wheeler and Stuart are finally playing postseason hockey again for the upstart Jets.
Wheeler and Stuart have a point each in their series with the Anaheim Ducks, which the Jets trail three games to nothing. Even if the Jets suffer a series sweep in Game 4, there’s no denying that these two former Bruins played a big part of Winnipeg’s turnaround during the 2014-15 season.
Another former Bruin dealt before their Stanley Cup victory, Hunwick is making his first playoff appearance since 2009-10. The former Michigan Wolverine spent three and a half years with the Colorado Avalanche before signing a deal with the Rangers in the off-season. Hunwick is averaging a little over 10 minutes a night as a bottom-six defenseman in the Blueshirts’ first round series with the Penguins.
The Bruins’ first round pick of the 2008 NHL Draft never suited up in Boston, and it took him awhile to settle into a new home…in Calgary.
Colborne, who was sent to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle near the 2011 Trade Deadline, has provided a solid presence for the Flames in their improbable march to the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. Although his 28 points in each of the last two seasons aren’t anything to write home about, Colborne has helped solidify a presence in the Flames’ bottom two lines.
The former University of Denver standout tallied a key assist in the Flames’ 4-2 win in Game 3 over the Canucks. Calgary leads Vancouver in its best of seven series, 2-1.
Like Colborne, Versteeg never got a chance to suit up for the Bruins. The 2004 fifth round pick was sent to the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2007 Trade Deadline — Chiarelli’s first year on the job — in exchange for Brandon Bochenski. Albeit a minor trade compared to some of the other deals the former GM made over the years, this is one transaction that Chiarelli would’ve wanted to do over if he had the chance, at least during his first few years on the job.
After stints with the Flyers and Panthers, Versteeg returned to the Blackhawks during the 2013-14 season. In his second straight postseason appearance, he has zero points through three games against the Predators.