There’s no doubting that Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney placed himself in a position of significant pressure headed into this season’s NHL trade deadline. The Bruins are squarely at the tail end of their Stanley Cup window with their current core group, and it was apparent last postseason they didn’t have quite enough on their roster for a two-month playoff run as constituted.
Rather than try to make it over all at once, however, Sweeney opted to remove a couple of pieces in Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara without adequately replacing them to start the season. The Bruins did attempt to make a consequential move prior to the season when they discussed Oliver Ekman-Larsson with the Arizona Coyotes.
So, Sweeney and Co. at least acknowledged the incoming problems on the left side of their defense. But eventually they opted to proceed into the season using the first half to evaluate young left-handed D-men Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon.
Going with a left side of Zboril, Lauzon and 5-foot-9, 170-pound Matt Grzelcyk proved less-than-ideal for the Black and Gold, and that’s being kind. Grzelcyk has been in and out of the lineup with injuries while banged up all year, Lauzon missed a month with a fractured hand and Zboril simply hasn’t been good enough as a full-service top-4 NHL defenseman.
The Krug absence factored into a precipitous drop in offense for the Bruins as well.
They spent the first the entire season in the bottom third of the NHL offensively, and scraping at the very bottom in terms of even-strength offense. Even the vaunted power play devolved into an average group this season while the Bruins searched for an effective PP quarterback to their top unit that could generate offense from up top.