Bruins

Brian Burke reveals what Ducks would've given Bruins for Joe Thornton in 2005

Brian Burke reveals what Ducks would've given Bruins for Joe Thornton in 2005

It appears the Boston Bruins could've received a lot more for Joe Thornton when they dealt him to the San Jose Sharks in 2005, at least according to Brian Burke. 

During a Twitter Q&A session on Thursday Burke, general manager of the Anaheim Ducks at the time Thornton was traded, revealed he was rather frustrated he couldn't pry the future Hall of Famer from Mike O'Connell's clutches. 

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As for what he would've given up for Thornton -- this one may frustrate B's fans. 

O'Connell ended up dealing Thornton to the Sharks for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart. The move cleared cap space for the Bruins to later sign Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard, among others, but could what they have received from Anaheim been better?

If the Bruins ended up receiving Anaheim's 2006 first-round draft pick (19th overall), they could've drafted anyone from Claude Giroux who went 22nd overall to the Philadelphia Flyers to Nick Foligno who was drafted 28th overall by the Ottawa Senators. Now, if the first-round pick Burke was willing to give up was indeed a 2006 pick, then the Bruins who drafted Phil Kessel fifth overall that year could've potentially added two stars for the price of one. 

Thinking about that situation alone should make Bruins' fans cringe, but there's more.

Burke noted he would've given up the player who O'Connell ranked as sixth-best on the Ducks roster as well as a prospect. Looking back at that now, the sixth player could've been anyone from Francois Beauchemin to Joffrey Lupul and a prospect could've been the likes of Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry, according to WEEI's Matt Kalman. 

The sixth-best player makes you shake your head because Beauchemin and/or Lupul weren't the greatest, but the first-round pick and possibility of adding Getzlaf or Perry would've been huge for the Bruins. 

If this deal was done in 2020, you'd have to wonder if Don Sweeney would've accepted Burke's offer.

 

2020 NHL Playoffs: Ranking Bruins' potential first-round opponents

2020 NHL Playoffs: Ranking Bruins' potential first-round opponents

While the Bruins play a round robin against the other three best teams in the East to determine seeding, the Nos. 5-12 teams will be playing to see who makes it to the actual first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

The teams and matchups are: 

  • Penguins (5) vs. Canadiens (12)
  • Hurricanes (6) vs. Rangers (11)
  • Islanders (7) vs. Panthers (10)
  • Maple Leafs (8) vs. Blue Jackets (9)

Given that we don't know whether the Bruins will be the No. 1, 2, 3 or 4 seed, it's possible they could play any of these teams in the first round. 

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Are any of them actually scary for the Bruins? Yes, even though none of them should be favored to actually beat Boston. Here's how I'd rank them, in descending order of difficulty: 

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (5)

3.20 G/G (10th), 2.84 GA/G (12th)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 1-2-0

I'm not crying for the Penguins having to be here. They could have avoided this by not losing eight of their last 11 games.

Anyway, this is a tried-and-true group that added Jason Zucker and Patrick Marleau (among others; Connor Sheary was also brought back) at the trade deadline. Pittsburgh was clearly going for it this year, only to be run out of a top spot by the surging Flyers.

The Bruins blowing it in the round robin and getting Pittsburgh in the first round would be a worst-case scenario, even though my money would still be on Boston. 

2. New York Islanders (7)

2.78 G/G (22nd), 2.79 GA/G (9th)

2019 record vs. Bruins: 1-1-1

I'm going Islanders ahead of the Hurricanes because I have more faith in them reaching the field of eight based on their play-in matchup.

Scoring has been an issue for the Islanders all season, but after adding JG Pageau at the trade deadline, they're very strong down the middle (Matthew Barzal, Brock Nelson), which we've seen has been crucial for teams making playoff runs. 

3. Carolina Hurricanes (6)

3.19 G/G (11th), 2.84 GA/G (11th)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 0-1-0

Yes, this team looked like a bunch of children in the Eastern Conference Final last year because they... weren't good enough to play in the Eastern Conference Final.

But the Hurricanes, who were fourth in the East in goal differential (better than the Penguins and Capitals), have momentum on their side. They were big players at the trade deadline, adding Vincent Trocheck up front and Sami Vatanen and Brady Skei on the back end, plus — and don't laugh here — Dougie Hamilton was pushing for the Norris before he got hurt this season.

He'll be healthy, making the Hurricanes a decent contender as long as they can get past a Rangers team that swept them in the regular season. 

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (8)

3.39 G/G (3rd), 3.17 GA/G (26th)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 1-2-0

Same old story. They can score a bunch and can't defend a lick. Mike Babcock's gone now, which they feel is a good thing, but this isn't the NFL.

You can't just have a great offense and nothing else. Even with the fits they've given the Bruins, I'll always have a hard time taking them seriously. 

5. New York Rangers (11)

3.33 G/G (5th), 3.14 GA/G (23rd)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 0-2-1

Offensive dynamo (and recent Bruins postseason nemesis) Artemi Panarin racked up 95 points in 69 games in the regular season. Mika Zibanejad was scoring like an absolute mad man (11 goals in six games!) prior to the shutdown.

Factor in that the Rangers opted to re-sign Chris Kreider rather than trade him at the deadline and you've got an offensively formidable group, but boy does that blue line stink.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets (9)

2.57 G/G (28th), 2.61 GA/G (3rd)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 1-0-0

Was it really Bobrovsky that had everyone all horny last year, or was it Torts and that defense? There sure is a case to be made for the latter, because Columbus was third in the league in goals against despite having people whose names I always have to look up (Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins) in net.

That second-round matchup was a toughie last year, but that team had Panarin. This one does not and it sucks offensively.

7. Florida Panthers (10)

3.30 G/G (6th), 3.25 GA/G (28th)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 1-1-1

They have star power up front and played the Bruins close in the regular season (two of three meetings went to OT). Yet when they were on the bubble at the trade deadline, they shipped one-time 30-goal scorer Vincent Trocheck (who has either been hurt or underwhelming the last three seasons) to Carolina.

Sergei Bobrovsky has been a nightmare of a signing, posting a .900 save percentage after signing a seven-year deal with a $10 million AAV. He's 31!   

8. Montreal Canadiens (12)

2.93 G/G (19th), 3.10 GA/G (19th)

2019-20 record vs. Bruins: 1-3-0

The uniform scares you, sure, but nothing else should. They sold at the deadline, lost 10 of their final 14 games and boast one of the most unspectacular rosters you'll ever see in a "playoff" game.

Also, the Bruins' margin of victory in their four matchups was 11 goals. The Habs have no business playing in this, which is why they probably won't be there long.   
 

2020 NHL Playoffs: Cam Neely calls playoff format 'disappointing' from Bruins' perspective

2020 NHL Playoffs: Cam Neely calls playoff format 'disappointing' from Bruins' perspective

Clearly the top-seeded Boston Bruins aren’t getting any favors done for them with the new 24-team playoff format, and B’s President Cam Neely didn’t hide that fact while reacting to the NHL’s return to play scenario.

Boston was the only team that had reached 100 points with roughly a month to go when the regular season was put on pause, and the B's were a shoo-in to be the No. 1 seed in all of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as Presidents' Trophy winners.

Now they could drop all the way to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference bracket while taking part in a round-robin warm-up tournament with Washington, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia which will determine final seeding.

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The decision to wipe away everything Boston had accomplished in the first six months of the regular season was not lost on the B’s president. Some might say the Bruins were screwed by the new format, but that's probably putting too strong of a point on it. 

Still, the format does very little to uphold Boston's dominance during the 2019-20 regular season.  

“Like everybody, I’m excited to get the next phase now that the players and owners have agreed on a format on the return to play. Hopefully we’ll be able to get our facility open in a voluntary basis for the players to use,” said Neely, during a Wednesday Zoom call with Bruins reporters. “With what the team was able to accomplish in the first 70 games and then the point spread we had — not only with the teams in the league, but also with the teams in our division and conference — to kind of have three games dictate where we fall in the conference standings is somewhat disappointing.

But the fact remains that these are uncharted times for everybody and we’re just hoping that we can get on the ice to play meaningful hockey games. I expressed my feelings about where it was headed, but for the good of the game this is what they thought was best.

"I felt that the players would be amped up and ready to go whether there was round-robin games or play-in games during the playoffs while knowing other teams were playing competitive games. I understood why they landed on 24 [teams]. I just would have liked it without the round-robin for the top four seeds.”

The Bruins still have a great chance at the top seed in the East given that they will have head-to-head games against the Caps, Lightning and Flyers to get ready, and they hold the tie-breaker based on regular-season point percentage. And home-ice advantage really doesn't even count for much if the games are going to be played in empty arenas at designated NHL hub cities over the summer. 

But they will have to go out and earn it again in the new format just as they did over the course of the first six months of the NHL regular season.