Bruins

Haggerty: Hayes buyout closes door on Seguin trade chapter

Haggerty: Hayes buyout closes door on Seguin trade chapter

With the news on Friday that the Bruins have placed Jimmy Hayes on waivers for the purpose of buying him out of the final year of his contract, it closes a couple of pathetic chapters in recent Black and Gold lore. First, it closes the book on a misguided Bruins move with the Florida Panthers to swap Reilly Smith for Hayes, and then double down on that mistake by signing the big, loafing Hayes to a contract extension before he’d even played a game in Boston.

In the interest of full disclosure, this humble hockey writer was able in favor of the Smith-for-Hayes move when it first happened, but it was difficult to understand exactly why the player was given a three-year extension before he’d done anything for the Bruins. Per a couple of league sources, the B’s actually reached out over the last month to see if the Panthers were interested in a “trade-back” where they would take back Hayes and the B’s would get Smith back in Boston. Needless to say, it wasn’t a long conversation when the Panthers were presented with the idea of getting back a slow-skating 6-foot-6 forward that plays more like a 5-foot-9 forward.

But that trade was just a minor ripple in the pond for the Black and Gold. The more significant door that’s closed as a result of the Hayes buyout is the Tyler Seguin deal to Dallas almost exactly four years ago to the day. With Hayes and Joe Morrow now out of the fold, the Bruins now officially have nothing to show for the wretchedly one-sided Seguin trade with Dallas just four years ago.

Loui Eriksson walked away as an unrestricted free agent without any trade compensation a year ago, and Matt Fraser left the Bruins as a free agent to sign with the Winnipeg Jets a couple of years ago. He’s since moved over to the pro hockey ranks in Sweden after never being able to get over the hump from a high-scoring AHL forward to an NHL top-6 forward.

The Reilly Smith portion of the Dallas trade bounty became Hayes once the two players were swapped two years ago, and the rest is history.

In total those players combined for 102 goals, 252 points and a plus-50 for the Bruins over the last four seasons while Seguin has posted 133 goals, 306 points and a paltry plus-2 over those past four seasons in Dallas. This isn’t to say that the Bruins were wrong to trade Seguin back over that Fourth of July weekend in 2013 coming off a run to the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. He has undeniable skill, the statistics are eye-popping and he’s fulfilled his destiny as a stats marvel on a series of poor hockey clubs in Dallas.

But Seguin still has never developed as a reliable two-way center at 25 years old, and for all his talents he’s never even been the single best player on any of his NHL teams during his career. In fact that 2010 draft is looking more and more like the St. Louis Blues got the best player mid-first round with their pick of Vladimir Tarasenko, and both Seguin and Taylor Hall are good players never destined to be the true franchise pieces they were hyped as back in the Taylor/Tyler draft craze.

So the Bruins made a determination Seguin needed a well-documented change in scenery, and that part of it is still understandable. Where the Bruins screwed the pooch was not getting first round picks from a team like Dallas along with a veteran replacement piece in Loui Eriksson. Those would have been quality draft picks given how the Stars has fared over the last four seasons, and would have given the Bruins a chance to choose their own proper-fitting pieces rather than accepting bit parts and B-prospects from the Stars organization in terms of Smith, Fraser and Morrow.    

That is how you win, or at least survive, trading a young talent like Seguin just as he’s coming into his own after you spent a No. 2 overall pick on him. Peter Chiarelli, backed by Cam Neely, didn’t do that at the time back in 2013 when the Bruins hastily opted to deal away Seguin, and that move played a major role in this Bruins team falling off a cliff for a couple of seasons before getting things back on track last season.

It was one of the big items that cost Chiarelli his job in Boston, and, fair or unfair, it cemented the Bruins with a reputation for a few seasons that it wasn’t a friendly place for young star players like Phil Kessel, Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. More than anything else, it now turns the stomachs of Bruins fans everywhere when they look at the big bag of nothing that the B’s have for dealing Seguin just four short years later.

There’s no denying the Seguin trade was a straight-out debacle for the Bruins, and Friday’s Hayes buyout served as the final footnote to one of the most forgettable epochs in Black and Gold history.  

Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

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Bruins get a needed boost from young players in win over Sharks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Saturday night, which gave Boston four of a possible six points in its California road swing.
 
1) The kids stepped up at a great time for the Bruins. Boston needed some young players to step up and fill in for the injured veterans up front, and they got it on Saturday night. Jake DeBrusk was the main playmaker on both goals in the first period, and the Bruins got goals from rookies DeBrusk, Peter Cehlarik and Danton Heinen. It was Cehlarik’s first NHL goal and the 10th point of the season for Heinen, who continues to show signs that he is going to be a productive, reliable winger  even though he didn’t start the season at the NHL level. DeBrusk finished with a goal and an assist and twice used his speed and aggressiveness taking the puck to the net to create scoring chances: On the first goal it was Cehlarik who finished the loose puck after DeBrusk’s net drive created a rebound, and on the second it was DeBrusk simply beating reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns to a race for the puck and then snapping it up and over San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell. Cehlarik became the sixth Bruins rookie to score the first goal of his NHL career with Boston this season, and it all shows tangible results of the youth movement they were fully embracing this season. There will be peaks and valleys with so many young players in the lineup, but Saturday night turned out to be one of those high-water marks.

2)  At their healthiest, the Bruins can be a fast-skating, skilled team that will be equal parts offense and defense in a hard-working style that features pace and creativity in the offensive zone. The Bruins aren't healthy right now, obviously, and aren’t going to find success that way as attested by the fact that they hadn’t won two games in a row this season until Saturday night in San Jose. With a number of players already out of the lineup, Torey Krug now injured as well and Tuukka Rask taking an extended rest in favor of a red-hot Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are actually playing a very different brand of hockey right now. With Rask not playing -- and not allowing the types of bad or soft goals he's given up so far this year -- they can play a little more conservatively and try to make a two- or three-goal output in a game actually stick as the game-winning margin. Just check the box score,  as the Bruins blocked a whopping 30 shots and conversely the Sharks blocked just 12. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Robbie O’Gara all had blocked shots in the final few minutes, and Brandon Carlo stepped in front of a wide-open chance for Burns in the third period off a clean offensive zone faceoff win for the Sharks. Those are all gritty, tough plays in the D-zone that you don’t always see, and it perhaps comes a little more naturally when the Bruins are making the clear choice to feature their defense and goaltending right now. It may not be sustainable once Anton Khudobin inevitably cools off a little bit, but for now it’s pretty darn effective.


 
3)  After watching him stop 36 of 37 shots for the win on Saturday night, the Bruins need to see this thing through with Khudobin until he loses a game. Khudobin is 5-0-2 with this season, with a .949 save percentage in three appearances in November. He's playing the best he's played in the last couple of years. Right now Khudobin is actually leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage for the season, and that really contrasts to Rask's .897 save percentage. Certainly part of it is about the Bruins selling out defensively in front of him and blocking 30 shots in the win while knowing they didn’t have to play again until Wednesday night. But it’s also about the Bruins backup goaltender playing himself into a position where the B’s should ride him until he cools down a little bit, and give Rask some more time to figure out what is slowing him down between the pipes right now.
 
PLUS
-- DeBrusk made a couple of big plays in the first period that led to goals for the Bruins, and he finished with a goal, two points, a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net in 15:49 of ice time. He has a goal and three points in three games since being a healthy scratch last weekend against Toronto.
 
--Khudobin made 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outshot 17-5 and it certainly seemed like they were going to get run out of the building. Instead Khudobin stood tall.
 
-- Heinen finished with two goals and three points on the three-game trip and iced the game for the Bruins with a backdoor strike in the third period after Kevan Miller had dashed up the right side of the ice to create the chance. Heinen is pushing up near the Bruins team leaders in some offensive categories and looks like he belongs in the NHL this season.
 
MINUS
-- Burns was burnt on each of the Bruins' two first-period goals, he actually missed the net with 12 of his 16 shot attempts, and he had seven giveaways in a pretty sloppy game managing the puck. Burns hasn’t had a great season to date, and Saturday night was a good example of things not going well for him this year.
 
-- Paul Postma finished with just eight minutes of ice time in the win, and was part of the poor defensive coverage on the Sharks goal by Joonas Donskoi in the first period that ended up getting overturned on video review. Postma didn’t show much else after that only playing a handful of minutes over the remainder of the game, and based on his early performance looks like he’s only going to be a seventh defensemen in Boston.
 
-- Here’s a hearty boo to the 10:30 pm West Coast starts on Saturday night that only the diehards, or those getting paid, are going to closely watch on the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving. Congrats to you if you were one of the lucky ones that decided to stay up and watch a game that didn’t end until after 1 a.m. in the East.  

Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

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Morning Skate: Payroll mess at the heart of Bruins' problems

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while battening down the hatches for Thanksgiving week.
 
-- When longtime Bruins follower Clark Booth opines about the Black and Gold, I tend to listen. And he's not happy with the Bruins' salary cap situation at this point in time. It should be noted that this was written before they won the last two games. But some of those truths still remain self-evident when it comes to the B’s.

-- Kevin Bieksa will never stop talking about former teammate Rick Rypien, or about the factors that ultimately led to his tragic passing.
 
-- Alex Ovechkin is truly living up to the “Russian Machine Never Breaks” mantra these days, which led to the creation of an entire blog about the Capitals.
 
-- This Saturday Night Live skit with Chance the Rapper playing a clueless hockey reporter was funny, even to people that have been covering the league for 20 years and still struggle to pronounce a name like Brady Skjei.
 
-- The good, the bad and the ugly courtesy of FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick from last night’s Montreal blowout loss to the Maple Leafs that probably could have just been called the ugly, the ugly and the ugly.
 
-- It’s 20 games into the season, and the Buffalo Sabres media are wondering what’s wrong with their team, and star Jack Eichel.
 
-- For something completely different: It sounds like some of the NFL rank-and-file players want to know why Roger Goodell deserves $50 million and a lifetime private plane.