To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.
Today’s team: Boston Bruins
2014-15 record: 41-27-14, 5th in the Atlantic
How they finished: Did not make the playoffs
Coach: Claude Julien (9th season)
Notable additions: RW Jimmy Hayes, LW Matt Beleskey, D Matt Irwin
Notable subtractions: C Carl Soderberg, D Dougie Hamilton, LW Milan Lucic, RW Reilly Smith, C Gregory Campbell, LW Daniel Paille
RELATED: How good was the Caps offseason?
Schedule against the Capitals: Thu. Nov. 5 at Washington, Tue. Jan. 5 at Boston, Sat. Mar. 5 at Boston
Outlook: The Bruins had perhaps the most tumultuous offseason in the NHL as new general manager Don Sweeney tried to put his mark quickly on the franchise. Sweeney served as assistant general manager with the Bruins since 2010, but was promoted after the firing of Peter Chiarelli and let everyone know that there was a new sheriff in town.
Despite the fact that trading away players like Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic may single a rebuild, Sweeney did not simply dismantle the team. He was able to get some return with players, especially in Matt Beleskey. Whether they want to call it a rebuild, however, that's exactly what the Bruins are head for.
Consider the situation: a new general manager takes over a team that didn't make the playoffs with a coach who is entering his ninth season. Do you think that coach could be in a bit of trouble?
There was no guarantee Claude Julien would keep his job after last season and only did after he met with Sweeney to make sure they were both on the same page. When a general manager has a "agree with me or you're fired" meeting with the coach, that's not exactly a vote of confidence. Julien enters this season with a sword of Damocles hanging over his head (it's an expression, look it up) and it won't take much for Sweeney to pull the trigger on a coaching change.
The problem is that the Bruins aren't exactly loaded heading into the season.
Though Sweeney ultimately made the right move in trading Hamilton who was not going to re-sign in Boston, it still leaves a hole on defense that the Bruins have not filled. In the past, the team could rely on Zdeno Chara to keep their defense tough, but let's face it, he's not getting any younger.
Sweeney vowed to restore the "aggressiveness" that helped the Bruins win the Cup in 2011 and then turned around and traded Lucic. Talk about mixed messages. Yes Lucic was wildly inconsistent last year, but he still managed 44 points and would seem to be the type of player Sweeney would want in order to restore the "big, bad Bruins."
This has all the makings for a team on the path to an identity crisis.
That's not to say Sweeney won't be successful in Boston or that the team didn't need some kind of change. Chiarelli is the guy who traded Tyler Seguin away after all. Looking strictly at this upcoming season, however, it's hard to see how this team could be better than the 2014-15 Bruins who missed the playoffs.
Expectations: Boston was not as bad as they looked last year and fell only two points short of a playoff spot, but ultimately management recognized that the team was on the decline, hence the firing of Chiarelli. Sweeney made some bold moves, but not enough stem the tide of decline the Bruins now face.
A head coach on the hot seat is the ultimate wild card when it comes to season predictions. Julien could be gone by November and then who knows what can happen? Just based on the roster, however, I don't know how this team is supposed to be more aggressive without their most aggressive player (Lucic) or how the defense can make up for the loss of Hamilton or for a declining, 38-year-old Chara on the top pair.
The Bruins failed to make the playoffs last year and there's no reason to think things will be any different this year.
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See more team previews:
Buffalo Sabres 8/16
Detroit Red Wings 8/17
Florida Panthers 8/18
Montreal Canadiens 8/19
Ottawa Senators 8/20
Tampa Bay Lightning 8/21
Toronto Maple Leafs 8/22
Carolina Hurricanes 8/23
Columbus Blue Jackets 8/24
New Jersey Devils 8/25
New York Islanders 8/26
New York Rangers 8/27
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29
Washington Capitals 8/30