By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
Get ready for a large letdown, Bruins fans.
With just about 24 hours before the NHL’s trade deadline, B’s general manager Don Sweeney has elected to sign 36-year-old journeyman Lee Stempniak as the Black and Gold make their playoff push following Monday’s drop-dead date for deals.
How immensely underwhelming is that?
Having lost out on former Senators forward Ryan Dzingel and center Matt Duchene – who was likely most lower on the Bruins brass radar after they dealt for third line center Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato late last week – it appears that Sweeney is pulling his best Harry Sinden patented move and is miserly adding to the bottom of his roster instead of shooting for the moon as other teams across the league load up.
And you wonder why it took 39 long years before Boston hoisted it’s first Stanley Cup in 2011, when they were incapable – or unwilling – to do what was needed in order to become a true contender for the first time since Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins seemed on their way to dominating the league for years in the spring of 1972.
Anyone who has any clue knows that if this is the team that head coach Bruce Cassidy is given headed into the most competitive championship tournament in North American – if not the world – sport knows that this is at best a club that may be able to claw its way out of the first round of the playoffs, at best.
For as much as farm systems in the NHL are built to develop prospects who can enhance the team going forward, they are equally an opportunity to build up assets that can be used to turn a good team into a contender this time of year.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 24, 2019
The Bruins – as currently constituted – are a good team, no question. Nevertheless, they are far from a contender. A quick trip in the way back machine to last spring’s beatdown courtesy of the currently otherworldly Tampa Bay Lighting is a sobering reminder of that.
Here’s the thing, why would Sweeney swing a deal for someone like Coyle if something of more substance was to follow? Not to mention, the more times that the club exposes some of their “high-end” prospects to the NHL game and they continue to fail, what does that do to their perceived value around the league?
For as much as Bruins fans were encouraged to see Sweeney solidify the third line with the addition of Coyle – the subtraction of the dinosaur that is David Backes would help too – they should be equally disappointed if the B’s boss chooses to stand pat some 24 hours from now when the opportunity to improve immediately has passed.
In his nearly four years at the helm of the Bruins ship, Sweeney has yet to prove that he can swing a deal that impacts his team in a major way at the trade deadline. If Stempniak is the final piece to the B’s puzzle for Donnie No Deals come tomorrow, the fans of the team that call Causeway Street home could be dealing with some back to the future moments over the next few days when it comes to their favorite team.
And there likely won’t be any reason to get the duck boats ready anytime soon, at least when it comes to Boston’s hockey team this spring.