Bruins

Bean: Yes, the Seguin trade was a disaster, but let's talk about the Hayes trade

Bean: Yes, the Seguin trade was a disaster, but let's talk about the Hayes trade

Did you hear the Bruins are buying out Jimmy Hayes? Did you know he was the last part of the Tyler Seguin trade? God, that trade sucked, huh? 

Yes, it did. It was the worst, but do you know what else sucked? The Jimmy Hayes trade and the Bruins’ motivation to do it. There can never be enough bashing of the Seguin trade, but Friday’s news shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion on that front. Let’s talk about the Hayes move. 

The Bruins intended to sign Matt Beleskey at the open of free agency in 2015, but they didn’t want to put the finishing touches on anything until they moved some money. Their way of doing it: shipping Marc Savard’s contract (two more years of a $4.017 million cap hit, which they’d in the past stashed on LTIR) and Reilly Smith (entering a two-year deal worth $3.425 annually) to Florida in exchange for RFA Jimmy Hayes. 

In other words, they swapped out Smith for Hayes, hoping to receive the same offense for less money. It wasn’t a bad plan in theory given that Hayes had just scored 19 goals at age 25 and that the Bruins had obvious reservations about Smith’s consistency. 

Yet despite the move being applauded because Hayes was a local boy and Smith was maddening to watch, Smith was the better player. Then Sweeney signed Hayes to a three-year deal worth $2.3 million annually. 

Hayes was a risky fit from the jump. In his introductory press conference, a question about him considering himself a power forward was laughed off, but it should have been an obvious concern. Hayes is not a physical player and Boston has not treated players with size well unless they’re absolute monsters. Hal Gill attested to this at the time. 

Smith went on to score 25 goals with 50 points in his first season in Florida. He then got overpaid on a five-year extension with a $5 million cap hit, regressed to 15 goals last season and is now a Golden Knight. 

Hayes’ 13-goal debut with the Bruins was considered a disappointment, but it was terrific compared to the two-goal, five-point season he mustered through 58 games last season. Rather than give him a third chance or bury him in the minors, Sweeney elected to use a buyout. 

Few Bruins fans lose sleep over Smith, but his trade, like a very poor man’s Seguin’s deal, represents poor asset management. The B’s turned Smith into nothing but dead money against their cap for the next two seasons. And they did it in order to sign Beleskey to a contract they regret through two of five seasons. 

Then there’s the buyout aspect. This is the second time Sweeney has bought out a player in as many summers. Last June, he moved on from Dennis Seidenberg, who had two years remaining of a bad Chiarelli deal with a $4 million cap hit. He then replaced Seidenberg by bringing back John-Michael Liles on a one-year, $2 million deal. This was, as it seemed at the time, the wrong move. 

Seidenberg was not worth $4 million a year anymore. Not even close. Yet the move was to keep him on the roster for one more year in a diminished role (such as the one Liles had), then buy him out with one year remaining on the contract. That way, the B’s would only have two years of dead money. Instead, they spent $3.16 million on his roster spot between the buyout and Liles’ hit, plus $2.16 million in dead money next season and $1.16 million in the two following that. 

In buying out Hayes, the B’s will pay $566,667 in dead money next season and $866,667 the year after after. It’s not the end of the world -- they’d have to pay $1.35 million against the cap next season by burying him in the AHL, but free agents would take notice of that -- but the money adds up when considering the B’s will pay $2.73 in dead money next season. 

So yes, the Hayes buyout officially ends the terrible, terrible Tyler Seguin trade, but let’s not forget the Hayes trade and its moving parts are plenty worth criticism on their own. 

Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

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Heinen beginning to look like a keeper for Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – While it’s still early in the careers of all the young Bruins rookies making their way this season, it sure looks like 22-year-old Danton Heinen is among the B’s youngsters that are here to stay. The former University of Denver standout didn’t make the cut at the end of training camp this season and he failed early last year when it was clear he wasn’t ready during an eight-game audition with the big club.

But Heinen continued to look ready while scoring a pair of goals and three points in the three games on a pivotal road trip through California last week, and is now tied for fifth on the Bruins in points despite missing four games in the AHL. In all, Heinen has four goals and 10 points along with a plus-4 rating in 15 games this season, and is on pace for a really strong 21 goals and 52 points in his first full year.

This has been a really nice step forward for Heinen after being a point-per-game player for Providence during their playoff run last spring.

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“Last year’s playoff did a lot for him. When I saw him playing there, he was a different player than when he’d left [Boston],” said Bruce Cassidy. “There was a willingness to stay in the battle and his growth when it comes to winning pucks…you’ve seen it here. A lot of the things he’s down well are his second and third efforts on the puck where last year I thought he was pushed off the puck pretty easily [at the NHL level].”

There could be a period when his offense slows down or some other part of his game drags his minutes down, but right now he looks like he’s well on his way to establishing himself in a key role with the Black and Gold. The difference has been Heinen increasing his speed and also adding a little more tenacity to the skill and offense package that he was always bringing to the table.  

“I don’t want to say that because when we get our guys healthy then we’ll see where we’re at,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked if Heinen was a keeper at the NHL level at this point. “But I think he’s certainly shown he’s a much more consistent player than he was last year. He’s probably a bit ahead of the other younger guys because he has gone through a bit of it [at the pro level]. The fact that he’s been able to play in a lot of different situations, play left or right wing, and moved up in the lineup while being very effective with [Sean] Kuraly and [Tim] Schaller down in the lineup, as a coach it’s to have a guy like that who can move around and fit in a lot of different places.

“So he’s certainly helped himself [to stay in the NHL]. I think it’s too early to say if he’s here for good, but I don’t envision him leaving [Boston] anytime soon with the way that he’s played.”

Only time and consistently good play will allow the playmaking Heinen to truly lock up his spot on the NHL roster, but it’s increasingly difficult to envision any scenario where the fifth-round pick isn’t playing an increasingly important role for the Bruins. 

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Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

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Bruins' Backes returns to ice after surgery for diverticulitis

BRIGHTON -- In a development that was certainly much sooner than originally anticipated, David Backes has returned to the ice just a matter of weeks after having 10 inches of colon removed during surgery for diverticulitis. It remains to be seen how gradual a process it will be for the 33-year-old to actually return to game action given his original timetable for recovery was eight weeks following the early November procedure, but it seems like it might end up being ahead of the two months Backes was initially expected to be sidelined. 

For his part, Backes was happy to be back skating with his teammates and pushing his recovering body after feeling pretty sluggish for the first few days following surgery. He confirmed he’d been skating for a couple of days while the team was on the West Coast, but Monday was his first team doing anything post-surgery with the rest of the team. 

“It’s good to be back with the guys and to be around the room, and to have seen the kind of resiliency that these guys showed on the road trip. The back half of the road trip was impressive,” said Backes, who has an assist in five games with the Bruins before succumbing to the surgery. “To be on the ice and moving around after sitting around doing nothing for too long where you don’t think you’re going to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it feels good. 

“The doc’s advice is that if it doesn’t hurt then I can keep moving forward and add more of a workload on, so that’s the update for today. It’s still non-contact, but we’ll keep moving along and hopefully I’ll be back doing what I love to do on a regular basis. I haven’t been notified that the timeline has changed at all, so I’m just going to keep putting in the work. The more I seem to do the work the better it is, and I seem to be able to do a little more each day. So those are all positive signs.”

For the Bruins it’s clearly a morale booster to see the big power forward back doing regular hockey activities, and serving notice that he’ll be bringing his size, strength, leadership and physicality back to a B’s team that definitely needs him. Clearly the return of another high-end forward would also immensely help a Bruins team that’s still very undermanned up front, but it would appear there will be some other B’s forwards getting back prior to Backes. 

Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner appear poised to return to full practice on Tuesday with a possible return to the lineup not too far beyond that after all three injured forwards took part in Monday’s optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena. 

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