By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3
Black N Gold Hockey Podcast website is proud to announce a new, recurring series in the rotation of entertaining articles: The Bruins’ Top Six. In honor of the passing of the 2020 NHL trade deadline, the inaugural listing will be on the Bruins’ best Trade Deadline acquisitions of all time.
As part of the NHL’s “Original Six,” the Boston Bruins organization has a long and storied past. The hockey club has been in operation since 1924 and has participated in over 6,500 regular-season games, earning post-season appearances in 72 of those years. The crew went through all recorded trades that the Bruins participated in thanks to documentation by NHL Trade Tracker to pick the best and most influential Trade Deadline transactions made by the club. First things first, the trade must have occurred within six weeks of the NHL trade deadline of that year so readers will not find big trades such as the one that brought Cam Neely to Beantown.
6.) Dennis Seidenberg Poached from Florida
Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 401, G – 23, Pts – 117, +/- 54 (GP – 50, G – 2, Pts – 15, +/- 14)
The Bruins acquired Dennis Seidenberg before the Trade Deadline in 2010 from the Florida Panthers along with Matt Bartkowski for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and the Bruins’ second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Following the 2004 – 2005 lockout season, Seidenberg became an NHL full-timer with the Philadelphia Flyers.
A bit of a journeyman, he played for three teams in the span of five seasons due to various trades. Seidenberg was seen as a defenseman who would help better balance the D-corps by playing with Zdeno Chara on the right side of the rink. Matt Bartkowski ultimately failed to grab a spot with the Bruins and none of Bitz, Weller or 36th overall pick in the 2010 draft and current Providence Bruin, Alex Petrovic played any meaningful minutes for Florida.
Seidenberg played 17 games in that first season but was injured and missed the entirety of the playoffs which featured the historic collapse to the Philadelphia Flyers. The following season, Seidenberg became a household name in New England as he notched career highs in all offensive categories and helped lead the B’s back-end during the run to the Stanley Cup by logging 27:38 minutes of ice-time over all of the Bruins’ 25 games.
Behind only Chara, Seidenberg’s ice-time trailed the Captain by a mere second per game. The trade locked in one of the key pieces to the championship team in 2011. He also scored at least one goal from center ice three seasons, so that alone should get him into the top-six.
5.) Local Boys Swapped in Deal for Charlie Coyle
Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 84, G – 17, Pts – 40, +/- 32 (GP – 24, G – 9, Pts – 16, +/- 8)
The B’s flipped promising forward Ryan Donato and a conditional pick that ultimately became a fourth-round selection in the 2019 Entry Draft to the Minnesota Wild for center and East Weymouth native Charlie Coyle. Originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks 28th overall in 2010, Coyle was the Wild’s centerpiece in the trade for Brent Burns in the 2011 off-season. Coyle broke into the league during the 2012 – 2013 season while splitting time between the NHL and AHL and never looked back the following year as he proved himself an NHL regular.
Donato came out of the gate quickly for Minnesota but has since shown the same defensive and effort related issues that plagued him in Boston. The pick in the deal was exchanged to Carolina in order to help Minnesota move up to the second round so that they could draft Hunter Jones, a goalie prospect in the Ontario Hockey League.
Since the trade, Coyle has proven to be a versatile top-nine forward that helped the cement the Bruins’ depth chart up the middle of the ice. He has played spot time at wing in various line combinations. Despite an underwhelming early tenure that saw him post two goals, six points and a minus two rating, Coyle turned it in on in the 2019 playoffs scoring some big goals, particularly in the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, ultimately potting nine tallies that were tied for most on the team.
Coyle is a serviceable player and seen as a stop-gap in Boston, evidenced by his five-year contract extension that will see him in the Black n’ Gold until 2026. He will help man the middle lane for the foreseeable future, as the Bruins transition from Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to players like Jack Studnicka and John Beecher.
4.) Ray Bourque Given a Chance to Win
Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 1,518, G – 395, Pts – 1,506, +/- 493 (GP – 180, G – 36, Pts – 161, +/- 14)
All-time great Ray Bourque was mercifully traded to the powerhouse Colorado Avalanche from a wallowing Bruins team that he dragged to mediocrity along with Dave Andreychuk for Martin Grenier, Samuel Pahlsson, Brian Rolston and a pick that eventually become Martin Samuelsson.
Grenier and Samuelsson never really put it together in the NHL, Pahlsson was jettisoned by B’s management in the first season of the millennium to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks where he helped the franchise capture an NHL title in 2007, Rolston carved out a solid career but left the Bruins following the lockout, save for a brief reunion in the 2011 -2012 season. On the other side of the ledger, Andreychuk left Colorado following the 2000 playoffs and Bourque led the star-studded roster to a Championship in 2001.
This trade entered the annals of folk-legend, in part because it exemplified a management team trying to find a way to get a long-time and faithful soldier to the promise land as repayment for years of loyalty and dedication while the organization continuously failed to put contending pieces together. The Bruins limited themselves to the best of the NHL teams of the time and took a below market-value return to make the move happen. The gesture would become synonymous with the relationships that management and core players develop in the Bruins organization even through the present day.
3.) Fresh Start for Adam Oates
Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 368, G – 142, Pts – 499, +/- 22 (GP – 42, G – 11, Pts – 48, +/- -18)
Following a contract dispute between the St. Louis Blues and star center Adam Oates related to perceived discrepancies in pay, Blues management offloaded the disgruntled Oates in exchange for Boston’s Craig Janney and Stephane Quintal. Before the trade, Oates had been a key cog in the Blues’ offensive machine for two seasons, helping Brett Hull to Rocket Richard awards in both years.
Despite the reports of Oates’ malcontent demeanor, the Bruins acquired him to help provide offensive pop and complement stars like Cam Neely and Bourque. Janney established himself as an above-average playmaker as he bounced around the league and Quintal ultimately played a stay-at-home role in more than 1,000 regular-season contests with six different teams.
In each season Oates was with the team, the Bruins made the playoffs despite Neely’s injury-plagued decline in the first half of the 1990s. He led the league in assists during the season in which he racked up his career-high in points with 97 and 142 respectively. Oates signed a lucrative deal with the Bruins, but again felt he was underpaid.
When his contemptuous dealings with B’s brass began, they elected to rid themselves of the headache and traded him to the Washington Capitals during the ’96 – ’97 season. Oates was a star in his own right and a 21-time nominee for the Lady Byng award, but his relationship with management, in general, was anything but gentlemanly. This served only to leave a blemish on the talented forward’s legacy.
2.) Carol Vadnais Reinforces Big Bad Blue-Line
Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 263, G – 47, Pts – 181, +/- 67 (GP – 39, G – two, Pts – 21, +/- 12)
Prior to the 1972 playoffs, the Bruins determined that they would need additional depth on their blue-line behind their top pair of Bobby Orr and Dallas Smith. The club entered and won a bidding war with the Montreal Canadiens for the right to acquire the California Golden Seals’ Carol Vadnais and Don O’Donoghue in exchange for forward Reggie Leach and defensemen Rick Smith and Bob Stewart.
Vadnais would anchor the B’s second pair for the rest of that season and support a successful cup run during the year. He would play another solid three years and change until he was traded to the New York Rangers in 1975. Smith and Stewart fell to relative obscurity and Leach became a star forward in the National Hockey League, although with the Philadelphia Flyers after his time with the Golden Seals.
Since the trade dealt a future prolific scorer in Leach for an understated defenseman, its sometimes considered a poor one for the B’s. This is with the luxury of hindsight and retrospect. Vadnais, who passed away in 2014, was a steady presence on the Bruins blue-line for a team with eight 20-plus goal-scoring forwards that wanted to win now and had a need elsewhere on the roster. Pundits like to talk about which team won a particular deal, but at the heart of every hockey trade, both teams ought to be winning.
Although the Seals wouldn’t hold on to the asset, one of the futures they dealt for did turn out and the Bruins received the support they desired for the playoffs. In this regard, Vadnais represents a near-perfect deadline acquisition; he was meant to bolster the back end for a playoff run that culminated in a Cup win. He did just that and even stuck around for a few years after.
1.) Mentorship and Experience in Mark Recchi
Regular Season (Playoff) Stats with Bruins: GP – 180, G – 42, Pts – 107, +/- 14 (GP – 49, G – 14, Pts – 16, +/- 30)
In March of 2009, the Boston Bruins swapped Martins Karsums and Matt Lashoff for Mark Recchi and a second-round pick. This Chiarelli move would prove to be a shrewd one, as Mark Recchi would play valuable top-six minutes en route to a Stanley Cup two years later and the pick would be packaged with other minor pieces in the above Seidenberg trade. Karsums and Lashoff would both fail to become full-time NHLers with the former eventually bolting to the KHL in 2010 and the latter mostly toiling in the AHL while bouncing around continents.
Mark Recchi signed two team-friendly, one-year deals with the Bruins during the 2009 and 2010 off-seasons. Under head coach Claude Julien, he was ultimately assigned to line 1b duty with non-other than current top-line players Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron forming a defensively sound combination that was able to contribute offensively. Aside from his on-ice contributions, Recchi had a profound effect on the team’s chemistry and locker room environment. Bergeron credits him with becoming the leader he is today.
While his performance on the ice was limited in comparison to his previous achievements, he helped to set the tone for the 2011 Championship and the continued excellence demonstrated by the organization’s core players before riding off into the sunset with the Cup in his saddle.