By: Ray Guarino | Follow me on Twitter @rayguarino
Coming into the 2018-19 season, the Boston Bruins are feeling pretty good about themselves after advancing to the second round of the 2017-18 NHL playoffs before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games. There were some important additions made for the upcoming season. Below we’ll take a look at them.
September 11, 2018, the Boston Bruins trade Adam McQuaid to the New York Rangers for Steven Kampfer, a 2018 fourth-round pick, and a 2019 seventh-round pick
Trading Adam McQuaid, one of the most popular players on the Bruins roster, could not have been easy for Don Sweeney. McQuaid, as Pierre McGuire once said, is “one tough hombre” who would stick up for his teammates and keep opposing players in check. He even went after Jon Scott after Scott came in late and high on a hit against Loui Eriksson. McQuaid was fearless. Unfortunately for him, there was a redundancy between him and Kevan Miller. With both making north of $2M, it wasn’t sustainable to have them both on the team. Add in the emergence of Brandon Carlo and young stud Charlie McAvoy, and McQuaid became expendable.
In return, the Bruins got a depth defensman on a minimal contract, along with two draft picks. This was a good trade for Sweeney. Grade A
January 11, 2018, The Boston Bruins trade Cody Goloubef to the Ottawa Senators for Paul Carey
In a minor league deal, the Bruins get an important veteran presence for their minor league affiliate, the Providence Bruins. Carey was ultimately named the team captain for the Baby Bruins. Grade B
February 20, 2019, The Bruins trade Ryan Donato and a 2019 fourth-round pick to the Minnesota Wild for Charlie Coyle
The Bruins finally solved their third-line center vacancy by acquiring the Weymouth, Massachusetts native. After a stellar amateur career that included stints at Boston University and the Saint Johns Sea Dogs in the QMJHL, Coyle was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft by the San Jose Sharks. He was traded to the Minnesota Wild in the Brent Burns deal in 2011 before playing a game for the Sharks.
“I like his size and strength in the middle of the ice. Watching him play the wing, he’s not necessarily a shoot-first guy,” Sweeney said. “He’s a possession player. Can he complement? Certainly, and he can score, but he’s a bit unselfish in that regard. He’s put up anywhere from 50 to 30 points, he’s a consistent player, like I said the 5-on-5 production is there, and I believe he’s going to come in and complement our group.”
Chris Kelly operated the third-line center spot for the Bruins for five seasons, starting with the 2011 trade that brought him to Boston. He was an integral part of the Bruins Stanley Cup run that year and followed that up with a 20 goal season the following year. Kelly began to falter starting with the 2012-13 season with injuries, and revolving linemates, until he re-joined Ottawa as a free agent in 2016.
Coyle struggled out of the gate for the Bruins but really shined once the playoffs began, producing 9-7-16 in 24 games. He followed that up with 16-21-37 in 70 games while providing stability to their third line. The Bruins now had one of the deepest center positions in the entire NHL.
Coyle signed a six-year, $31.5 million contract extension on November 27, 2019, that carries until the 2025-26 season.
Ryan Donato, the son of former Boston Bruin Ted Donato, was a second-round pick for the Bruins in the 2014 draft. After a very productive career at Harvard University, Donato joined the Bruins at the tail end of the 2017-18 season and had an immediate impact. Donato had 5-4-9 totals in twelve games but went scoreless in three playoff games. The following season saw Donato struggle with consistency and playing time, and he ultimately ended up spending time in the AHL with the Providence Bruins.
This trade was a home run for Sweeney. In Coyle they essentially get a second-line center to anchor the third line. Grade A
February 25, 2019, The Boston Bruins trade a 2019 second-round pick, and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the New Jersey Devils for Marcus Johansson (NJ retains $1,833,333-40%)
Another trade deadline, another attempt to find a right-winger to play with David Krejci. All accounts are that Sweeney wanted to extend Rick Nash after acquiring him at last season’s trade deadline, but Nash’s retirement left another hole on Krejci’s right. Enter Marcus Johansson. The versatile Swede, who can play all three forward positions, was brought in to play right-wing on the second line with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. He struggled a bit out of the gate, producing one point in four games before suffering a significant injury on a hit from Michael Ferland of the Carolina Hurricanes. Johansson returned for the final six games of the regular season and the playoffs.
Come playoff time, Johansson found chemistry on the third-line with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen. Thet line consistently outplayed their opponent’s third-line and was one of the driving forces behind the Bruins trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Johansson had 11 points in 22 playoff games. The Buffalo Sabres ultimately signed Johansson to a three-year contract totaling $13,750,000.
Giving up a second-round pick, along with a fourth-round pick, for Johansson was about the going rate for a top 6/9 forward. He had missed significant time the year before with a concussion, ironically enough on a hit from Brad Marchand. We are starting to see a trend from Sweeney trying to fill that second-line right-wing position at the trade deadline, and it’s costing the Bruins high draft picks. Grade B-
These moves, along with some surprising playoff eliminations from the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals, brought the Bruins to within one game of winning the organization’s seventh Stanley Cup.
Stay tuned for the final installment of my series on all Don Sweeney’s trades!