( Photo Credit: Nancy Lane / MediaNews Group / Boston Herald )

By: Cody Stelluto | Follow me on Twitter @TownieTalkCody

Don Sweeney is the Boston Bruins General Manager, and as always, with significant responsibility comes considerable criticism. There’s no pleasing everyone in the role Sweeney possesses, and some of the fanbase have gone as far as to call for his job.

The fact is he’s not the terrible GM some perceived him to be. Sweeney has done great things to keep this franchise at the top of the standings while constantly competing for a Stanley Cup championship. He may not have a perfect draft history or make the most noise during free agency, but you can bet Sweeney will get a good trade complete.

Sweeney’s Strength

In his years as the Bruins GM, Sweeney hasn’t allowed an NHL trade deadline to pass without making a deal. In 2018, the acquisition of Rick Nash was his first attempt at acquiring a big name. Unfortunately, that trade didn’t work out due to concussion problems.

What trades have worked out to the benefit of the Bruins?

In 2019 the Bruins traded for center Charlie Coyle, giving up Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick. This trade was a Sweeney success and helped lead to a playoff run that fell one game short of a Stanley Cup Championship. They also received Marcus Johansson to add to the forward depth they needed, giving up a second and a fourth-round pick to the New Jersey Devils.

The next big splash came in 2021 with the acquisition of Taylor Hall, a former Hart trophy winner. That trade involved Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round pick shipped to Buffalo. This move seemed to spark both Hall and the Boston Bruins. You could immediately see a new life in Hall’s game coming from Buffalo, where he didn’t play his greatest hockey.

Sweeney continued his hot streak that season, seemingly hitting the jackpot by acquiring defenseman Hampus Lindholm. It may have seemed like the Bruins gave up a ton for him, but in hindsight, it’s safe to say the trade has tremendously benefited the Bruins. Lindholm has been sensational since joining, with six goals and 30 assists. Seemingly a perfect fit for this team, I love this move by Sweeney. We certainly don’t miss Urho Vaakanainen, who has 2 points in 26 games played this season. The other player involved in the trade, John Moore, has been injured all year. In addition to those two players, giving up one first-round pick and two second-round picks completed the deal.

Off-Season Robbery

The off-season trade acquiring Pavel Zacha in exchange for Eric Haula was massive. Don’t get me wrong, Haula wasn’t terrible for us while he was here, but what Zacha has done this season far exceeds what Haula provided. It seemed as though many New Jersey Devils fans were happy about the shipping of Zacha when the news broke, but it has been love at first sight for the Boston fanbase. The Czech native inked a four-year contract extension with a cap hit of $4.75 million a year.

Sweeney turned this into gold

When you look at it as a whole, what Sweeney has done to make this roster competitive in the veteran core’s last years is impressive. He has turned Haula, Vaakanainen, Donato, Bjork, Moore, and five total picks, with only one of them a first-rounder, into a legit Stanley Cup-caliber roster. The return on those above was undoubtedly a positive gain for Coyle, Hall, Lindholm, and Zacha. Let’s see if Sweeney can stay hot on the trade market in 2023 and hope for another deep playoff run this season.