Bruins

Don Sweeney admits infamous 2015 NHL Draft weekend 'was a steep learning curve'

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Don Sweeney admits infamous 2015 NHL Draft weekend 'was a steep learning curve'

BRIGHTON – Perhaps it’s because the Bruins made it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final last season, or perhaps time simply has mellowed any raw feelings over the four-plus years that have passed since then.

But Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was about as forthright as he’s ever been on the very first NHL draft weekend he ran as GM of the Black and Gold, and the “steep learning curve” that took place when things didn’t go off without a hitch for Boston.

“It was a steep learning curve that weekend for us for an absolute certainty. We did put forth a plan as to what we were going to try to accomplish as an organization,” said Sweeney. “We have accomplished some of those things, we haven’t accomplished the ultimate goal and that’s really what it’s all about. You are proud, as I’ve referenced our team last year and the growth of each individual player is part of that and what they contribute. And other players who come along are a part of that will contribute as well.

“I don’t look at it in one myopic time event, I look at the big package every day and try and get better at the decisions that we have to make. And people who are part of our staff at that time, we’ve learned and grown from that and are hopefully making better decisions going forward. Hopefully the club reflects that and the success we’ve had reflects that.”

A draft pool stocked with talent produced some very good players for the Bruins, of course, as second-line left winger Jake DeBrusk and shutdown defenseman Brandon Carlo are both products of that draft.

Carlo was the very reason why Sweeney was asked about as he signed a two-year deal worth $2.85 million per season as a second-round pick that went very right for the B's. But there were also some big misses as their biggest goal from that weekend was to trade up in the first round and get a young franchise defenseman with Noah Hanifin and Zach Werenski as their biggest targets.

Instead, the Bruins traded Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton to amass six selections in the first two rounds of that draft, and then were left with three consecutive selections in the middle of the first round when they failed to trade up. Obviously they took care of that defenseman need a year later when they drafted Charlie McAvoy around the very same part of the first round, but in hindsight, they missed badly in the first round.

They obviously hit with a solid player in DeBrusk, who scored 27 goals in his second NHL season last year. But barring a big turnaround for both players, they missed with the other two first-round picks in Jakub Zboril and Zach Senyshyn. When one considers that Mat Barzal, Kyle Connor and Thomas Chabot were taken with the next three picks in the first round, the Bruins missed badly with both of those players given the comparable talent available.

Connor could have been the top-6 winger they’ve been missing the last couple of seasons, and the dazzling Barzal certainly would be the heir apparent in the middle to aging top-6 centers David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron.

Later in the first round Brock Boeser and Travis Konecny, and in the second round Sebastian Aho, were selected as well, further adding to the missed opportunities for the Bruins. They’ve rebounded to further replenish their prospect pool in subsequent drafts and obviously the future is bright for a team with a talented roster coming off three straight playoff appearances and a Stanley Cup Final run last season.

Clearly Sweeney has done enough to make everybody forget the 2015 draft whether it’s signing guys like Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak to team-friendly deals, or learning his lessons well enough from some of the early missteps to be named the 2019 NHL General Manager of the Year.

So it’s clearly not all bad, but it still stings for many around the organization when they think about what happened at draft weekend four years ago.

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Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-2 win over the Ducks

Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-2 win over the Ducks

Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-2 win over the Ducks Monday afternoon to win their fifth game in six tries to open the 2019-20 season. 

GOLD STAR: Who else but David Pastrnak? Pastrnak scored four goals for the first time in his NHL career and joined a pretty elite Bruins club that also includes Patrice Bergeron, who did it a couple of seasons ago. Pastrnak now has six goals on the season after his four-score outburst on Monday afternoon, and is in the middle of a Bruins Perfection Line that is humming on all cylinders right now after needing a game or two to get going this season. The four-goal game and the six goals in six games once again raises the question of whether Pastrnak is ever going to be able to score 50 goals in a season, and it’s something he certainly has a chance at if he can remain healthy. In this game, Pastrnak scored in all kinds of different wants including a PP strike on a one-timer from the circle, a finished goal on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush and a redirection while paying the price in front of the net.

BLACK EYE: Troy Terry was a hotshot college hockey prospect when he came on the scene a couple of years ago after starring with Ryan Donato in the Olympics. But he’s off to a brutal start this season with zero points in six games, and had no shots on net with a minus-2 rating in 16:39 of ice time for the Ducks in Monday night’s loss. He certainly looks like his confidence is low right now for a Ducks team that’s scraping and scrimping for offense, and that was reflected in what we saw on the ice. Man, if the Ducks didn’t have Rickard Rakell they would be a seriously anemic offensive team. It will be part of the growing pains for Anaheim to see if guys like Terry are going to be a part of the long term solution, and it sure hasn’t looked that way in the early going this year.

TURNING POINT: For the Bruins, it was getting their second goal of the game in the second period after largely getting outplayed by the Ducks while getting outshot 16-6 and hanging onto a slim 1-0 lead. The Bruins killed off a couple of Ducks power plays and then they scored on a 2-on-1 with Brad Marchand feeding David Pastrnak just as an Anaheim power play had ended. The goal gave the Bruins a little bit of breathing room and set them up for a third period where a couple more Pastrnak goals allowed them to pull away in the game.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jaroslav Halak and the Bruins goaltending continues to be a big story of success for the Bruins. Halak wasn’t perfect as he allowed two goals during the game, but he was pretty darn close in the second period when he stopped 15-of-16 shots as the Ducks clearly outplayed the Bruins in the middle 20 minutes. Halak stopped a couple of odd-man, 3-on-1 rushes during that period of time and allowed the Bruins to get their stuff back in order, which they did when they scored to make it a 2-1 game late in the second period. Both Halak and Rask have been among the league’s best goalies to start the season for the Bruins and it’s making a major difference for them.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – the number of goals for David Pastrnak, which also gives the Bruins Perfection Line 11 of the last 14 goals scored by the B’s overall in their last five games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “What’s on the forefront of my mind is more the other guys, what could we do to help them get going? And what can they do themselves to help themselves? So that, as a coach, is what I’m thinking about. I’m happy [the top line] is on, they’re going, the power play units found their mojo again, so that’s good. But my mind’s more on the other group. How can we help them out? We’ll keep looking at it.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the top-heavy nature of the Bruins offense right now relying on their top guys and top PP unit to score.

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Kampfer in, Clifton out vs. Ducks in matinee game for B's

Kampfer in, Clifton out vs. Ducks in matinee game for B's

BOSTON – The Bruins are winning hockey games, so they’re not going to shake things up too much. But they don’t want too many of their roster players gathering rust either.

With that in mind, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is tweaking the regular lineup just a bit by inserting reserve defenseman Steve Kampfer in for Monday afternoon’s matinee against the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. Young D-man Connor Clifton will come out to make room for Kampfer, but Cassidy indicated that wasn’t any reflection Clifton’s play or any injury of any kind. Instead it as about getting Kampfer into the flow after sitting out the first five games of the season.

“He’s been working hard. We’ll get him in a game and see how it goes,” said Cassidy of Kampfer. “Cliffy’s played well, but [it’s a] message that nothing is guaranteed.”

Kampfer had three goals and six points in 35 games last season while serving the entire year as the seventh D-man for Boston. The 24-year-old Clifton has zero points and a plus-2 in five games while averaging 15:31 of largely uneventful ice time after showing a little more aggressiveness in the playmaking department during the preseason.

Other than switching Kampfer for Clifton, a start for backup goalie Jaroslav Halak this afternoon as Cassidy continues to alternate goaltenders with each game thus far this season. Here are the line combos and D-pairings vs. the Ducks based on Monday’s pregame warm-up at TD Garden:
 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman

Heinen-Coyle-Ritchie

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Kampfer

 

Halak

Bruins third line still looking for chemistry, offense in early going>>>

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