The Boston Bruins were down and out following their 8-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday night at TD Garden. But they won’t have to worry about fielding a team with an AHL defense core anytime soon.
Amidst a roller-coaster season, general manager Don Sweeney went ‘all in’ following a significant pair of transactions on Sunday.
In his first deal, Sweeney acquired Mike Reilly from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2022 third-round draft pick. With 19 assists on the season — 15 at even strength — the 27-year-old fills a left-shot puck-moving need.
Nearly a couple of hours after the Reilly transaction — as first reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger — Sweeney swung for the fences in a deal with Buffalo. The Bruins acquired Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar from the Sabres in exchange for Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round selection. Additionally, the Sabres will retain 50 percent of Hall’s remaining cap hit.
Adding Hall comes with a risk. The 2010 first overall selection has seen a significant dip in production since notching a career-high 93 points (39 goals, 54 assists) during his Hart Trophy campaign in 2017-18. Injuries and inconsistencies plagued Hall over the past few seasons with New Jersey, Arizona and Buffalo, notching 108 points in 135 games since 2018-19.
Hall gambled on himself as one of the marquee names in the 2020 free-agent class, opting for a one-year deal over a lengthier term. It didn’t pay off for the lowly Sabres as they watched Hall tally a mere two goals in 37 games. After skating with a rotating Hall hopes to find his spark again in a top-six role with either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci in the middle.
The centerpiece of the reported deal had Boston buzzing hours after the B’s shellacking at the hands of Alex Ovechkin, Zdeno Chara and company. But don’t forget about Lazar.
Unlike previous years, Boston’s bottom-six struggled to provide a complementary role to the top two lines. The versatile Lazar adds some depth and grit in a third or fourth-line role.
And let’s face it. Bjork displayed a high motor at times, but couldn’t consistently produce during his nearly four-year run in Boston. The Bruins likely would’ve exposed Bjork in the expansion draft had he stayed. After running out of chances with Cassidy and the coaching staff, Bjork gets a needed change of scenery.
Sunday’s moves could still backfire in the long run. Yet, in a unique season full of ups and downs, Sweeney opted to improve his team for another potential run with the four remaining members from their 2011 Stanley Cup squad — Bergeron, Krejci, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask. And he filled the gaping defensive and secondary scoring needs without paying a significant price tag.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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