Five Bruins Training Camp Questions: Part 2 – Which new additions will shine?
All this week, Bruins Daily will countdown the most important questions surrounding the Boston Bruins entering training camp. In Part 2, we’ll take a look at the outlook for the new additions to the B’s roster.
Don Sweeney’s first off-season as Bruins General Manager was rather interesting to say the least.
Following a disappointing 2014-15 campaign that resulted in the Bruins first non-postseason appearance since the 2006-07 season, Sweeney inherited personnel situations that included little salary cap space and a roster full of holes that needed fixing. He also had one other priority: re-signing 2011 first round pick Dougie Hamilton to a new contract.
Hamilton and the Bruins couldn’t come to terms, and Sweeney shipped him to Calgary for a first round (15th overall) and two second round draft picks in this year’s Entry Draft. On that same day, Milan Lucic, the B’s bruising power forward for eight seasons, was shipped to the Los Angeles Kings for prospect Colin Miller, goaltender Martin Jones — who was later traded to the San Jose Sharks — and the 13th pick in the Draft.
The Bruins draft was considered a dud. Just a few days later, more fans and critics were skeptical of Sweeney when he traded a third round draft pick in 2017 for Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo, a guy who has compiled 572 penalty minutes and 14 games lost to suspension while only producing a grand total of 24 points during his five years in Philadelphia. Even though Rinaldo vows to change the way he plays the game, there’s still skepticism about the move and deservingly so.
In the days following, Sweeney bounced back with a couple of solid transactions. On the first day of free agency, he signed Matt Beleskey to a five-year deal without overpaying him and acquired Dorchester native Jimmy Hayes from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Reilly Smith and Marc Savard’s contract. Just a few days later, Hayes signed a three-year contract worth $6.9 million.
What is the outlook for the newest Bruins? Let’s take a look.
Following a couple of years in the Blackhawks system, Hayes was dealt to Florida in the 2013-14 season and was a regular in the Panthers lineup. In 2014-15, Hayes notched career highs in almost every statistical category (72 games played, 19 goals, 16 assists, 35 points, 4 power play goals, 3 game winning goals and 11.4 shooting percentage).
Standing at 6-foot-6, Hayes’ big body should help ease the transition created from Lucic’s departure. His game, however, relies more on skill over physicality as seen by his 54 career penalty minutes. But don’t let that fool you, Hayes is a big body and will use it to get to the front of the net for greasy goals, screens and whatever the case may be.
Hayes’ dream of playing for his hometown team is coming true. The expectations that come with that is something he needs to meet, but the opportunity is there for the former Boston College Eagle to play alongside David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron or Ryan Spooner on the top three lines.
Like Hayes, Beleskey had a career season with the Ducks in 2014-15 tallying 22 goals and 10 assists to go along with a shooting percentage of 15.2. He followed up with a solid showing as he notched eight goals and an assist during Anaheim’s run to the Western Conference Finals.
With teams heavily interested in signing Beleskey, the former Duck landed in Boston at a very reasonable price of $3.9 million over the next five years. His play fits well with the Bruins’ style as a physical forward with a scoring touch. That should be good enough to earn him a spot on one of the top three lines.
Even though he brings a good deal of energy nightly, Beleskey will need to back up his new contract, which includes a no-movement clause during his first two years, with production to justify the deal.
As it stands now, Rinaldo will need to fight for his spot on the Bruins’ fourth line. The former Flyer has his work cut out for him entering training camp with Seth Griffith, Jonas Kemppainen, Alex Khokhlachev and Brian Ferlin also looking for a spot.
With a good showing at camp, Rinaldo can back up the changes he said he wanted to make. But if history repeats itself, he’ll find himself watching the game from the ninth floor press box at TD Garden more often than not.
Check back tomorrow for Part 3 where we look at which Bruins prospects have a chance to make the big club in 2015-16.