Before the start of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, the National Hockey League announced the finalists for General Manager of the Year. Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney was named as one of the finalists. The other two finalists are Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell and St. Louis Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong.
Per the NHL:
“The award is presented annually “to the general manager who best excelled at his role during the regular season.” It’s voted on by the League’s 31 GMs and a panel of NHL executives and print and broadcast media after the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”
Don Sweeney came onboard as General Manager of the Bruins on May 20, 2015 after the organization fired Peter Chiarelli. Over the past four seasons, the Bruins have improved under Sweeney’s guidance. Sweeney was heavily criticized in his first year because some of the choices he made during the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The Bruins held three consecutive first-round picks. With those picks, the Bruins selected Jakub Zboril with the 13the pick, Jake DeBrusk with the 14th pick, and Zachary Senyshyn with the 15th pick. All three players have spent time at the NHL level, but the most successful player out of these three draft choices has been Jake DeBrusk. DeBrusk is has been played a vital role in the Bruins run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Sweeney has kept the Bruins near or at the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference. This year has been an especially good one for Don Sweeney. The Bruins depth has paid huge dividends, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. During the 2018 NHL off-season, Sweeney made several vital signings that might have gone unnoticed to the casual eye. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who has taken the workload off of number one goalie Tuukka Rask, defenseman John Moore, who played in Game 4 against Carolina because of Zdeno Chara’s injury, forwards Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner, who both played a pivotal role in the Bruins Game 3 victory against Carolina in the Eastern Conference Final. Wagner could be lost for the rest of the playoffs after blocking a shot. Sweeney also signed restricted free agent forward Sean Kuraly. The line of Kuraly, Nordstrom, and Wagner has been the best checking line in the NHL.
Let’s not forget about the trades Don Sweeney has made. In the off-season, Sweeney sent Adam McQuaid to the New York Rangers as the Bruins acquired Steven Kampfer. Kampfer scored a goal in the Bruins Game 1 victory against Carolina in the Eastern Conference, as he stepped into the lineup as Charlie McAvoy was serving a one-game suspension. At the trade deadline, Sweeney acquired Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild and Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils. Neither play got off to a hot start, but once the Stanley Cup Playoffs Coyle and Johansson step up in a big way as they scored timely goals in must-win situations for the Bruins.
Sweeney played for 15 seasons in Boston from 1988-2003 before spending his final season in the NHL with the Dallas Stars. He returned to the Bruins to work in player development in 2006.