BRIGHTON, MA – The last week has been an extremely good one during an exceedingly successful season for the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins are tops in the NHL with a 48-8-5 record and became the NHL’s fastest team to get to 100 points in a season (in 61 games) while demolishing the Buffalo Sabres by a 7-1 score at TD Garden on Thursday night. On top of that, they landed Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway in a blockbuster deal with the Washington Capitals and addressed injuries to their wing by landing Detroit Red Wings game Tyler Bertuzzi ahead of Friday afternoon’s trade deadline.
Needless to say, Orlov and Hathaway feel like they’ve been magically dropped into a hockey heaven kind of situation.
“It’s awesome, you always feel the fans’ love, like all of the sports in Boston,” said Orlov. “It means a lot. It’s been a long week. A lot of emotions. Thanks to Washington’s general manager [Brian MacLellan] trading me to Boston. It’s a great team. That’s why they’re in first place right now. I’m happy to be here and just try to do my best every game and have a chance to play every game like it’s my last game and bring everything and enjoy it.
“Great inside team, you can see how close they are in the locker room, in life, and outside the rink. It’s special to be here, and we’re playing good hockey right now.”
Then the coup de grace came on Thursday morning when the Boston Bruins announced an eight-year, $90 million contract for game-breaking right winger David Pastrnak, who will now be with the Boston Bruins until the age of 36 years old.
Obviously there are some “look at me” hot takers in the Boston media trying to somehow spin this into a negative, but the Pastrnak deal is a good, fair price for an asset that’s the cornerstone of Boston contending into the next Bruins era.
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I mean, c’mon, we’re talking about a player on pace for 58 goals and 112 points this season while chasing Connor McDavid in the goal-scoring race.
Clearly all of this will lose some of its luster if the Bruins don’t win the Stanley Cup, but it’s once again time to give Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney and his front office cohorts credit for making all the right moves this season.
It’s something that Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery addressed somewhat unsolicited after the game while waxing poetic about how good Orlov is as a player after scoring his third goal since coming to Boston as a top-4 defenseman.
“I don’t think [Bruins GM] Don Sweeney gets enough credit,” said Montgomery. “We started off 11-1 and I was like, ‘Man, that is unreal,’ and then you catch yourself, you go back into the moment, and we’ve probably gone 11-1 every 12 games [since then] to have the record we have.
“It’s been really amazing to watch them want to be great. With the schedule and everything, it’s really impressive, but you can’t do it unless you have two great goalies, you have a D corps that can shut people down and can help you score, and you’ve got four lines that help you every night.”
Montgomery is right, of course, even if it’s always a good practice to be a good hype man for the guy that hired you.
Over the last few years, Sweeney has turned the Bruins into the NHL’s best team this year and it goes way beyond simply convincing 37-year-old Patrice Bergeron and 36-year-old David Krejci to come back for one more year.
It’s about trading for Hampus Lindholm at season’s deadline and then immediately signing him to a solid extension that gives the B’s a pair of No. 1 defensemen for the next five plus years. It’s something that other teams around the league can’t much and adding Orlov to that makes the Boston Bruins even that much more able to overwhelm opponents with their depth.
It’s about signing Linus Ullmark in a move that was criticized at the time, but has turned into the goaltending becoming an All-Star and Vezina Trophy candidate after being rescued from the Buffalo Sabres. Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman have become the NHL’s best goalie duo all the way down to the iconic, celebratory goalie hug that comes after every single win.
It’s about bringing in a first round talent in Pavel Zacha that’s playing up to that level now in exchange for a player in Erik Haula that was never an ideal fit.
It’s about past deals that brought in Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle and begin Sweeney’s efforts to really reconstruct this team. On it’s look at what Sweeney has given up to land Zacha, Coyle, Hall, Lindholm, Orlov and Hathaway:
Two first round picks
Seven other draft picks
That is a whole lot of nothing, aside from the first round picks, that Sweeney has surrendered for a number of good players that have helped create the Black and Gold juggernaut that’s rolling over everybody else. The NHL trade deadline coup has become a definding part of building this Boston Bruins team that simply overwhelms opponents with their depth at every position.
So what does all this mean?
It means the legions of Sweeney haters holding onto the 2015 NHL Draft probably need some new material and have been incredibly quiet this season as the Boston Bruins post ‘W’ after ‘W’ after ‘W’ with no signs of letting up anytime soon. It also means Sweeney is the odds on favorite to win another NHL General Manager of the Year award this season after building the perfect Black and Gold beast that has one more massive hurdle to climb with the playoffs right around the corner.
But there is credit due for Don Sweeney and Co. after crushing another NHL trade deadline in what’s become an undeniable strength for the B’s management team that’s put together over the last handful of seasons.