By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
The Boston Bruins have been one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference for over a decade. Notably, Boston won their sixth Stanley Cup in the 2010-2011 season followed by a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in both 2013 and 2019. During this stretch of success, the organization has seen the same core of players rule the competition.
Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, and Tuukka Rask were apart of each one of those successful seasons, but the remainder of the Bruins team has been altered, changed, and re-vamped with the emergence of the young players across the National Hockey League.
Today, the Bruins have star players that are staples in their lineup. David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Danton Heinen are all on the starting roster night in and night out, wearing the Spoked-B proudly. Don’t get them wrong, though. These young players are not here because the Bruins are at the bottom of the standings, in fact, it is quite evidently the opposite. The Boston Bruins are defending Eastern Conference Champions.
In the National Hockey League, there are multiple ways that a franchise can build their team for success. The Free Agency period always has serviceable players that can bring some talent to a roster and bring them to a more-successful season. The idea of trading is there, but it is sometimes difficult to convince another team to trade their top players without sacrificing one of your top assets in return. You could also be the Vegas Golden Knights who became a Stanley Cup-contending team from the expansion draft – but that is out of the question for everyone but Seattle now.
Without a doubt in my mind, the best option for teams to build a roster that contends for the Stanley Cup falls on the NHL Entry Draft. The best of the best young players around the world in a seven-round draft where all 31 NHL teams can select the players they feel will make their team better. The issue with this method is the waiting period for most rookies.
Looking at the Bruins, players like Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, and Anders Bjork have been in the system for a couple years now – yet none of them are secured positions on the team due to their position already being filled by someone with either more experience or more success. In other drafts, the Bruins have had struggles with their selections, to the point where they fail to play a single regular season game with the franchise before being shipped off or let go when their contract expires.
In many cases around the league, the waiting period is not of concern for management. As long as one day, they can have a competitive roster once again, it’ll all be okay again. That idea is great and all – if you want to risk losing ticket sales, profits, and a fanbase in general. The Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers, and others are prime examples of this fact alone.
Circling things back to Boston, the owners and fellow management personnel are not willing to sacrifice the years of money and profit that comes from a successful franchise to have a full-on “rebuild” when those veterans and core pieces begin to retire and move on from their hockey careers. Boston has shown over the past decade and continue to show into the 2019-2020 campaign that they are at the top of the NHL at performing a method of getting better on the fly commonly called – “retooling”.
When retooling a franchise, there is one main factor that must stay consistent – competitiveness. Without the idea of competing for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, one could argue that it is more of a rebuild. In order to complete this retooling, you must have a group of veterans to lead another group of young, upcoming players who are taking their opportunities and thriving. Looking at the 2011 Stanley Cup win over the Vancouver Canucks, not much has changed regarding the landscape of the roster.
In 2010-2011, the Bruins had an average age of 28.3 and had ten players above the age of 30, (Michael Ryder, Chris Kelly, Andrew Ference, Tomas Kaberle, Shawn Thornton, Marc Savard, Zdeno Chara, Shane Hindy, Tim Thomas, and Mark Recchi). In 2019-2020, the Bruins have an average age of 28.9 and have eight players above the age of 30, (Brad Marchand, Steven Kampfer, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Jaroslav Halak, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, and Zdeno Chara).
In 2010-11, the Bruins had younger players producing on their roster such as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Blake Wheeler, and so on. Today, those once-young players are now entering the later stages of their prime or have moved on from the franchise altogether in the event of trade or free-agency, but with the emergence of David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Karson Kuhlman, Danton Heinen, Connor Clifton, and so on, the youth is still vibrant as ever – keeping the cycle fresh.
It does not stop there, either. This season, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, the Providence Bruins, have one of their best rosters of the last few seasons. As of October 15th, the Baby Bruins have a record of 3-1-0 – tied for second in the AHL league standings. Forward Anders Bjork has been the top player so far for the P-Bruins, scoring three goals and two assists for five points in the opening four games, showcasing his skills that could be in the NHL sooner rather than later.
The lineup in Providence is filled with players that have caught the eye of management and fans alike, keeping people hopeful that the Boston Bruins can continue this success that they are seeing this season into future seasons for years to come – and they have every right to feel that way. In fact, they should. Only a few seasons ago, David Pastrnak was in Providence and on the fourth-line in Boston, now he is scoring four goals in a game and leading the team in goals.
Call it what you want – retooling, rebuilding on the fly, staying competitive – it’s all the same. The Boston Bruins are professionals at this by now. The idea puts pressure and expectations on young players, but with the guidance of the veterans that have been there before, it works. With a record of 5-1-0 to begin the 2019-2020 regular-season, the Bruins are proving that.