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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Maybe There Is a Method to Don Sweeney's Madness After All

This is such a wasteland on the American sports calendar every year and it certainly doesn't help when the Red Sox are so unwatchable and irrelevant by the middle of May. I'm trying to (partially) rationalize why we tend to overreact to any significant trades involving our local teams that come at this extremely dull point of the summer. Case in point, the Bruins last week looked like a drunken mess as they traded Carl Soderberg to Colorado for a sixth-round pick, Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for three picks and Milan Lucic to Los Angeles for Martin Jones, a minor league defenseman and a pick. We wondered, "what the hell is Don Sweeney doing?" He doubled up on the crazy by rewarding mediocre defenseman Adam McQuaid with a four-year contract.

For a change from last week's constant drama and unending questions, today brought some sense of clarity for the Black and Gold. First, they signed coveted free agent left wing Matt Beleskey to a five-year deal worth $19 million. He's the exact same age-down to the day-as Lucic (27) but unlike the former Bruin, his career trajectory seems to be trending upwards. Last season, he put up a career-best 22 goals in the regular season (65 games) followed by eight goals in the postseason for Anaheim. Granted playing with Cory Perry and Ryan Getzlaf would turn almost anyone into a 20-goal scorer but Beleskey similarly should bring size (206 pounds), toughness and the left-handed shot that they were looking for. Put him with David Krejci and David Pastrnak or Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand then we might have something.

Sweeney won more support by trading away oft-criticized forward Reilly Smith and Marc Savard's $4 million cap hit to Florida for former BC star and Dorchester native Jimmy Hayes. Smith scored 20 goals two seasons ago but that went down to only 13 this past campaign. That coupled with the fact that he does literally nothing else made him easily expendable. I would normally bitch about the Bruins giving him that silly extension last year but I'm tired so oh well. Hayes' numbers were pretty similar to Smith's last season (19 goals, 16 assists) and his huge frame (6-foot-6, 221 pounds) should help the Bruins crash the net better (something that nobody consistently does for them).

Now it's time to sign some NHL-caliber top-six defensemen since at the moment, Boston has like four that they can reasonably count on: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug and McQuaid (kind of). Matt Bartkowski signed a one-year deal with Vancouver and Gregory Campbell agreed to a two-year deal with Columbus; needless to say after their rough performances last season, most Bruins fans aren't sad to see those two leave town.

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