By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
Heading into last weekends NHL Draft in Dallas the rumor machine was running at full capacity. By the time the two-day event wrapped up late Saturday afternoon, it seems all that it had produced was a lot of hot air and smoke.
The only deal of any real magnitude saw the Calgary Flames acquire Bruins target defenseman Noah Hanifin – who along with promising forward Elias Lindholm – were sent to the great white north from the Carolina Hurricanes for former B’s D-man Dougie Hamilton, forward Micheal Ferland and prospect Adam Fox who is currently playing his hockey for Harvard University.
For the not so social – according to reports, anyway – Hamilton, it was the second time in three years that he was part of a draft-day deal. And as for how deeply Bruins’ general manager Don Sweeney was involved in pursuing 21-year-old Hanifin – who grew up in nearby Norwood – only he and the ‘Canes’ brass can answer that.
After targeting moving into the first-round – the B’s traded away their first as part of the package to land the aging Rick Nash from the Rangers at the trade deadline – looking to deal for a bigger bodied left-shot defenseman and adding a veteran goal-scoring winger, Sweeney came away empty-handed on all three counts.
Ilya Kovalchuk – who was the NHL’s free agent version of a high-priced lottery ticket after spending the last five seasons in the KHL – chose to take the three-year deal that the Kings were offering in LA, rather than accepting a two-year deal and perhaps a better chance at winning a Stanley Cup over the next couple of years in Boston.
Being spurned by the 35-year-old costly question mark could be one of the better things that happens to the Black and Gold this summer, as they are already hamstrung with the anchor-like contracts of the aging David Krejci and David Backes that currently hang around the franchise’s salary cap neck.
Which brings us to of the NHL’s rumor du jour regarding unrestricted free agent center, John Tavares. Two days ago the soon to be 28-year-old franchise pivot told the Islanders new czar of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello that he would be testing the market before deciding where to take his considerable talents to next season and beyond.
When several sources confirmed that the Bruins would be among the handful of teams that would be invited to make their pitch for the nearly point-per-game pivot in Los Angeles this week to Tavares and his agents, the Boston media, and New England hockey fans, were suddenly having visions of grandeur.
Kind of like that feeling of optimism that you get when you buy a couple of quick picks when the Powerball jackpot is at $300 million. You go to bed that night thinking about the new life you will live and how happy you are going to be. Then you wake up the next morning and realize that all you did was waste tomorrow’s lunch money chasing a dream.
That’s about how I would equate the chances of Sweeney and company coming back from the west coast this week with Tavares committed to playing on Causeway Street for the better part of the next decade.
The predicament it would put the team in long-term is daunting. Even if you were to ship both Krejci and Backes out of town for clearance sale prices – both have full no-movement clauses this summer – you still have the likes of young talent like Charlie McAvoy, Ryan Donato, Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Brandon Carlo who are all restricted free agents in the next two years.
If their career paths continue to take the rising road that many think they will, they will either have to be used a trade bait or get paid when their second contract comes up (Please reference David Pastrnak.).
While it is certainly fun to be invited to the big boy table when high profile free-agents are looking for their next home, it is far more likely that the tweaking you see done to the Bruins roster will be much more of a lower profile move than John Tavares.
That being said, continue to buy those lottery tickets Bruins fans. As they say, you can’t win if you don’t play, and at the end of the day, someone will be coming home with the big prize.