With the 2014-15 season officially closed in Boston, the Bruins face an off-season of uncertainty after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07. The one thing that we do know is that Peter Chiarelli is gone and Claude Julien’s fate will be decided by a new General Manager.
Some of the Bruins on the roster may find a new home this off-season. That will be a story for another day. For now, the Bruins Daily staff gives one more evaluation of the B’s roster with our year-end report cards.
Milan Lucic (Adam Bunnell – AB) – At the midway point of the season, it was hard to be pleased with Milan Lucic’s season. An injury to David Krejci and inconsistency on the opposite side prevented the big man from finding his game. The latter half of the season brought with it an injection of youth production into the line in the forms of Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak who seemed to ignite Lucic’s game when put onto his line.
Looch finished the season with 44 points – the fourth most productive on the team – which by the numbers is certainly not a failed season. For a player who consistently scores 20 goals and posts 50 points per season though, it is understandable that very few were excited about his production.
Entering the last year of his contract, Lucic will have to prove himself from start to finish if he’s hoping for an extension. All in all, it was a quiet season for the power forward, but a boost in his performance late in the season is promising for those who were beginning to doubt his abilities to help carry this team going forward.
David Krejci (Tim Rosenthal – TR) – Following a disappointing performance in the Bruins’ surprising second round exit versus the Montreal Canadiens last spring, the aftermath was equally unkind to David Krejci.
The Czech-born center spent a good chunk of the season on the injured list. With lingering hip and knee issues plaguing him throughout the season, Krejci never made an impact as the team’s top center even when he was healthy. In 47 games, the veteran tallied 31 points (7 goals, 24 assists) and never got clicking with fellow linemate Milan Lucic. Towards the end of the season, he was placed with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron as the Bruins were fighting for their playoff lives.
Krejci signed a six-year contract extension before the start of the 2014-15 regular season. Although that contract extension seemed warranted at the time, one has to wonder if the injuries will catch up to him in the years ahead.
David Pastrnak (Bob Snow – BS) – Management stumbled out of the gates with what to do with their 18-year-old first-round draft pick last June. Send him back to a Juniors program? Keep him in Providence in the AHL? Bring him up to the parent club?
After deciding the AHL route, Peter Chiarelli gave him five games with the varsity over two months in November and December when the team floundered. With just one NHL assist, somebody’s New Year resolution was to keep him on the roster the rest of the season. That log would include 42 games with 10 goals and 16 assists, six multiple-point games, three game-winning goals and being named the annual 7th Player Award that goes to the player who exceeds expectations. Why wasn’t Pastrnak in the lineup from Game 1 on?
Ryan Spooner (Chris Chirichiello – CC) – Once Spooner was recalled by the Boston Bruins, he seized his opportunity and gave the Black and Gold exactly what they needed –speed and scoring. In 29 games, the 23-year-old tallied 18 points on eight goals and 10 assists. He was a breath of fresh air despite his struggles on the defensive end. Spooner made considerable strides in Julien’s system, one that he had trouble with early in his career. With Carl Soderberg likely out of town, Spooner is more than likely to stick around in Boston and rightfully so.
Brad Marchand (AB) – Like many members of the Boston roster, Marchand did not do much in the first half of the season. Though the Bruins resident aggravator struggled to get his game going early, the second half of the year proved to be much more productive for number 63. The midseason restructuring of the lines brought Eriksson back onto the Bergeron line and also seemed to ignite game.
While Marchand’s performance was better than most this year, the Bruins and their fans have come to expect a lot more out of the 26-year-old winger. When it’s said and done, it is hard to imagine what the B’s overall performance would have been like without Marchand’s solid effort down the stretch. He ended the season as the Bruins top goal scorer, notching 24, to go along with 18 assists giving him 42 points on the season.
Patrice Bergeron (CC) – During a season of ups and downs and injuries to key players, Bergeron remained constant and led the B’s in points with 55 (23 goals, 32 assists). The 29-year-old missed just one game this season for Julien. With Boston’s struggles this season, many wanted the team to be “blown up” but this may be the one guy that will be going nowhere due to his hockey IQ, face-off win percentage and his will to win. There are never any questions about 37’s effort. He can do it all whether it is scoring a big goal or kill penalties. It seems as if he is in the right position every time he touches the ice.
Simply put: Patrice Bergeron is irreplaceable.
Reilly Smith (TR) – After coming over in the Tyler Seguin blockbuster, Smith surprised many Bruins fans last year when he posted 20 goals and was a regular on a line with Marchand and Bergeron. One year later, he signed a bridge contract and it looked like a similar performance would be in the works. Instead, Smith underachieved scoring just 13 goals and tallying 40 points in 81 games.
One would think that after a disappointing season, the Bruins would want to have parted ways with Smith, or at the very least just give him a one-year contract. Instead, in the last transaction he made in Boston, former GM Peter Chiarelli signed Smith to a two-year contract worth $3.5 million per season.
At the time, Chiarelli said that Smith would’ve gotten the same amount of money in arbitration or on the open market. If he really thought highly of the former Miami of Ohio product, then Chiarelli should’ve waited to sign him with the team that hires the ex-Bruins GM.
Chris Kelly (AB) – Easily the most divisive member of the Bruins roster in the eyes of the fans, Kelly’s contributions to the team often go unrecognized. Criticisms of his contract aside, it cannot be denied that Kelly is a key part of the Bruins bottom six and the team.
Kelly finished the year with 28 points, which, all things considered, makes him one of the more productive members of the Black and Gold in an otherwise quiet season. From start to finish, Kelly was also one of the most consistent members of the Bruins roster.
Though he’ll never post the big numbers, his consistency, along with his leadership and experience, will continue to make Chris Kelly an effective and contributing member of the Boston roster.
Carl Soderberg (BS) – The 29-year-old Swede was in the last year of his contract, becoming an unrestricted free agent at season’s end – with a big payday coming. So, what happens? He shoots himself in the wallet by going two months without a goal from January 17-March 19.
While Soderberg still ended tied for third in team scoring with Milan Lucic at 44 points – and produced a plus-10 with three game-winning goals – that drought was another reason why the team missed the playoffs. He only scored two goals in the last 11 games of the season, while ending as one of two on the roster (Dennis Seidenberg) to play all 82 games.
Loui Eriksson (TR) – Due to concussion issues, the start of Eriksson’s career in Boston did not go as well during the 2013-14 season. Though at times he was frustrating to watch, the Swede provided glimpses of the player he was in Dallas and bounced back nicely in his second year in The Hub.
In 81 games, Eriksson was second on the team in scoring with 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists). His versatility to jump from one line to another along with his roles on the power play and penalty kill.
He wasn’t perfect, and he may never be the same player he was in Dallas. But Eriksson’s importance to the Black and Gold will be critical if they are to bounce back and advance to the postseason in 2015-16.
Daniel Paille (CC) – Paille had one of his worst seasons as a Bruin which earned him some healthy scratches to end the season. In 71 games played, the speedy winger scored just six goals and added seven assists while sporting a team worst minus-9 rating. The B’s brass finally came to their senses while informing the 31-year-old that the team will not re-sign him. Paille may have scored in his last game of the season for the Black and Gold, but his struggles were obvious and it’s time to move on.
Gregory Campbell (AB) – On breakup day last week , now former GM Peter Chiarelli announced that, along with Daniel Paille, the Bruins would not be resigning a fan-favorite in Gregory Campbell. The decision came on the heels of one of Campbell’s least productive seasons since coming to the league.
With 12 points in 70 games, Campbell’s performance this season was frustrating to say the least. While Campbell was more known for his strength on the penalty kill and his willingness to stand up for his teammates, there are a number of younger players (paging Brian Ferlin) ready and waiting for their chance to prove themselves on the big stage. The Bruins fourth line suffered almost instantly after the loss of Shawn Thornton at the end of the 2013-14, and they never seemed to fully recover. Campbell will be a solid bottom six forward for any team in the NHL looking to add depth to their roster; however, his prime is in the rear view as he leans more towards average each season.
Though he didn’t end his career in Boston on the best note, he’ll always be remembered here for his monster shift against Pittsburgh in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final after breaking his leg, and Boston will always be grateful for what he brought – including a Stanley Cup – to the city.
Grade: D+ on his play (C on a curve because Boston will miss Soupy)
Max Talbot (BS) – After two seasons with the Avalanche and a distinguished career before with several teams – including Pittsburgh where he won a Cup and served as captain – Talbot came to Boston at the trade deadline with Paul Carey for Jordan Caron and a 2016 draft pick. Talbot became a quick locker room anchor for the playoff push, and a much-needed possibility to stabilize the fourth line at center. He was adequate with three assists in 18 games and even in the plus-minus category.
Zdeno Chara (BS) – At 38, the 6-foot-9 captain played his lowest game total in a Bruins’ uniform at 63. Eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points are also lows since 2006. Missing 19 games and having a long layoff for the All-Star break should have given the big guy a lot of rest for the second-half push to the playoffs. After he returned on December 11, he played 54 games with six goals and 11 assists for 17 points. His first goal of the season at home was February 28; he did not score a game-winner all season.
While his valued leadership is unquestioned, there are obviously now wear-and-tear questions on the ice. “Zee” is under contract for five more years to age 43 for $30 million.
Dougie Hamilton (TR) – The third-year defenseman had his share of ups and downs — as all young players do — but Hamilton continues to impress. When Zdeno Chara went down with his knee injury in the first month of the season, Hamilton’s role increased from Chara’s fellow defensive pair to the top blue-liner on the team, and he held his own for the most part.
But an injury that cost Hamilton the last 10 games of the season couldn’t have come at worse time for the Bruins and their 2011 first round pick. The same defensive breakdowns that hindered the Black and Gold earlier in the season, picked up again in the last two weeks and it’s safe to assume that having Hamilton could’ve at least eased the effect of those mental lapses.
Hamilton enters the off-season as an RFA. The question now: does he go through arbitration, or will the new GM somehow maneuver his way around the B’s cap situation and sign him to a long-term contract? Either way, Hamilton still needs to be a part of the team’s future.
Dennis Seidenberg (AB) – Seidenberg played his first full season since the 2010-11 season. Since missing the second half of the 2013-14 season after tearing his ACL, Bruins fans have noticed a significant drop-off in Seidenberg’s play. The German Hammer used to be the unquestionable blue-liner in Boston always willing to bang bodies, play along the boards, and protect the house; however, this season has seen him moved all around the top. That’s not to say it’s all Dennis’ fault though. The revolving door of injuries that was the Bruins defensive corps certainly did nothing to help players get comfortable where they were.
At minus-1 and with only 14 points in 82 games, Seidenberg ultimately had an underwhelming season. He struggled in his own end at the start, seemingly still hesitant to get back into the dirty areas, while lending very little to the offensive side. Certainly nobody expects the shutdown defenseman to be a scorer or playmaker, but Seidenberg has proven he knows how to create offense from defense, and a game that starts at the backend has always been crucial to the Bruins success. With a wealth of young and talented blue-liners like Dougie Hamilton, Zach Trotman, and others, ready to take their talents to the NHL, the Bruins must ask if a contract as large as Seidenberg’s is worth what he brings to the table.
Not all was lost though as the end of the season produced a sliver of hope, with Seidenberg and the rest of the defense seemingly sensing the urgency, which bodes well for next season. For now, “The German Hammer” is still a member of the black-and-gold, but if he wants to assure himself a future in Boston, it will require a much better effort than he showed through most of this season.
Matt Bartkowski (CC) – With injuries to Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Dougie Hamilton and Zdeno Chara, Boston’s blue line was depleted. After former GM Peter Chiarelli traded away Johnny Boychuk, Bartkowski needed to make the most of his chance. There were times where Bartkowski showed great puck moving ability up ice, but, for the most part, the 26-year-old committed costly turnovers in both ends of the ice. In 47 games played, Bartkowski had just four assists while rocking a minus-6 rating.
Not only do the B’s need to re-tool their offense, but they also need to part ways with Bartkowski.
Torey Krug (TR) – Krug’s puck moving prowess and ability to push the tempo is well documented. Still, he’s trying to find his niche in his own end, and the Bruins will need that to improve next season.
Krug (39 points in 78 games on 12 goals and 27 assists in 2014-15) has made some nice steps in his defensive game in the last few seasons. He is not going to be a top pair defenseman in this league due to his size, but he can still be productive in his own end. Question is, can he move up from his role as a bottom-three defenseman and jump into the second defensive pairing next season?
Given the lack of depth on the blue-line, Krug may see more minutes next season baring any significant upgrade this summer.
Adam McQuaid (BS) – When the Bruins jettisoned Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders in the days before the season opener, all eyes turned to the fifth-year 6-foot-5 defenseman to fill a chunk of that void. Last year McQuaid played 30 games with six points and a plus-12. In 63 games this year, he tallied seven points on a goal and six assists while playing about 20 minutes a night.
For McQuaid, it could have been a tale of two seasons after missing Nov. 18 – Jan. 3 with an injury. In 20 games before Nov. 18, he had just two points. After January 3, he played 43 games with four assists and a minus-5.
McQuaid never gained the status offered.
Zach Trotman (CC) He may have only played in 27 games, but Trotman kept it simple on an injury-ridden blue line. On April 2nd, the 24-year-old scored the game-winning goal against the Detroit Red Wings at a crucial point in the season while the B’s were fighting for their playoff lives.
The defense is a serious question for Boston especially with Zdeno Chara getting up there in age, but Trotman has showed he can fit the system. The seventh round pick wasn’t outstanding, but he wasn’t terrible either. He will have a chance to make the team out of camp next season.
Kevan Miller (TR) – He isn’t flashy by any means, but Kevan Miller plays his role well.
Like Hamilton, Miller missed a significant amount of time late in the season due to a shoulder injury. In his absence, a rotating trio of Bartkowski, McQuaid and Zach Trotman tried to step in to fill Miller’s role along with Torey Krug on the third defensive pair.
Miller’s role as a stay at home defender who can deliver some crushing hits is a good one for the former University of Vermont product. With one year left on his current contract, he may only have one more chance to try to prove himself in Boston.
Tuukka Rask (CC) – For a player who appeared in 70 games, Rask did everything in his power to keep the Bruins in the playoff hunt. The 28-year-old finished the year with a 34-21-13 record, a .922 save percentage and a 2.30 goals against average.
It may not have been a Vezina-type season for Rask, but with suspect goaltending behind him, the Finnish netminder played at a very high level despite the lack of rest.
Sure, in the team’s most important three games of the season against the Capitals, Panthers and Lightning, Rask went 0-2-1 allowing nine goals in that span, but he is not to blame for their early summer. If there is one other player Boston must hold on to other than Bergeron if things go south, it’s their goaltender.
Niklas Svedberg (AB) – Not much to be said – good or bad- about Niklas Svedberg this year. Though he only started 14 games this season, Svedberg was a solid backup to Tuukka Rask, posting a 2.33 goals against average and a .918 save percentage and picking up two shutouts along the way.
With the Bruins still in the process of preparing Malcolm Subban for the NHL, Svedberg makes a good No. 2 behind Rask and is an asset that the coaching staff should start using – no sense in paying him to sit on the bench.
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