By: Ray Guarino | Follow me on Twitter @rayguarino
As we continue our journey through Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney’s trades, we reached the first trade deadline of his tenure. The Bruins record at the 2015-2016 trade deadline is 34-23-6, good for 74 points. That put them in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, one point behind the Detroit Red Wings. Ownership made it very clear before the season started that making the playoffs is expected, so an active trade deadline was not a surprise. This was proven true when the Bruins passed on a deal that would have sent pending free agent Loui Eriksson to the St Louis Blues for a package that included a first-round pick.
February 29, 2016 The Bruins trade a 2016 3rd round pick, 2017 5th round pick, and Anthony Camara for John-Michael Liles
At this point, the Bruins defense was not playing well. Behind Zdeno Chara was Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, and Dennis Seidenberg. Seidenberg was just over two years removed from tearing his ACL and MCL in a game against the Ottawa Senators. He wasn’t able to return to pre-injury form and was ultimately bought out after this season by the Bruins with two years remaining on his contract.
John-Michael Liles, originally a fifth-round pick for the Colorado Avalanche, played just over 20 minutes a night with the Carolina Hurricanes. He was known primarily as an offensive defenseman, scoring at least 10 goals four times in his NHL career. At this point, though, he was 35-years-old and his best days were behind him. He provided the Bruins with over 19 minutes a night, which is more of a reflection of the Bruins lack of depth than what Liles could bring at this point in his career. The Bruins would ultimately re-sign Liles to a one-year contract for $2 million.
The price for Liles is about what you’d expect it to be. The 3rd round pick is a bit high, but a 5th round pick in 2017 and a low-level prospect in Camara were essentially throw-ins for the Bruins. Grade C
February 29, 2016 The Boston Bruins trade a 2017 2nd round pick and a 2016 4th round pick to the New Jersey Devils for Lee Stempniak.
Unlike Black Friday, trade deadline day is not a good day to go shopping. The Bruins, looking for secondary scoring depth, bring in Lee “The Suitcase” Stempniak. The right shot/right-wing forward is a Dartmouth College product and had already been on eight teams in his NHL career when he was dealt to the Bruins. He had 16-24-40 numbers in 63 games for the New Jersey Devils, playing mostly second-line minutes. He gave the Bruins decent production, 3-7-10 in 19 games, but not enough to justify the cost. This trade came in just as the deadline was closing, so Sweeney, after missing out on the bigger names earlier in the day, overpays for a bottom-six winger. When the season was over, they failed to make the playoffs, and The Suitcase went on to team number 10. Grade F
March 5, 2016, The Boston Bruins trade Zack Phillips to the St Louis Blues for future considerations.
June 25, 2016, The Boston Bruins trade a 2017 7th round pick to the Florida Panthers for a 2017 7th round pick.
A couple of small trades here, shifting assets between drafts. Grade B
March 1, 2017, The Boston Bruins trade a conditional 2018 6th round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for Drew Stafford. (The pick became a 5th rounder)
Don Sweeney’s second trade deadline went better than his first. Winnipeg was looking to dump some salary and get an asset for pending UFA Drew Stafford. The former first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres never lived up to being picked 13th overall in the 2004 NHL draft. Once traded to the Bruins, he produced 4-4-8 totals in 18 games and two goals in six playoff games. Stafford signed with the New Jersey Devils as a UFA after the season. Stafford didn’t cost the Bruins much, and they made the playoffs after a two-year absence. You could sense that things were starting to look up for the Bruins. Grade B
Keep an eye out for part 4 of our series as the Bruins go big in 2018!