It’s hard to criticize a team with a 29-10-8 record, but Don Sweeney has left room for improvement. The Boston Bruins have been a winning machine as of late going 14-0-4 heading into Tuesday’s match-up against the Anaheim Ducks. That is the team’s longest point streak since 1968-1969. Yet even the recent run of success cannot hide what could potentially be an all time mistake by Bruins GM Don Sweeney.
2015 NHL Draft
Hours before the 2015 NHL Draft the Boston Bruins held the 13th, 14th, and 15th overall picks. These picks were acquired by trading away Milan Lucic and Martin Jones to the Kings and Sharks respectively. Everyone covering the team was adamant that Sweeney had plans to move multiple, if not all, of those picks. It turned out Sweeney planned to move up in the draft to take defenseman Noah Hannifin out of Boston College. However, due to lack of execution and a last-minute change of mind Sweeney’s plan fell through.
As a result Sweeney decided to use all three of those draft picks due to the dismay of Bruins fans. Don Sweeney selected defenseman Jacob Zboril, left wing Jake Debrusk, and right wing Zachary Senyshyn. Only Jake Debrusk has made an impact at the NHL level. In a solid rookie campaign so far he has posted 11 goals and 25 points. Meanwhile Zboril and Senyshyn have not been able to get a sniff at the NHL level. Senyshyn has had struggles even cracking the Providence lineup. The Bruins’ entire rebuild has and will continue to be centered around that draft. If only one of those picks turns into a real player then Sweeney is going to feel the heat for it.
The bigger story from that draft is what could have been. At 16th overall the New York Islanders selected center Matthew Barzal out of the WHL. If you do not know who that is, Barzal is currently leading all rookies in scoring and is in contention for the Calder Trophy. Barzal has been opening eyes around the league scoring 51 points in 52 games and is on pace to finish with 84 points. Barzal also currently has more points than anyone on the Bruins team to add some salt to an already sensitive wound. With Bergeon, and Krejci both on the wrong side of thirty it would have been nice to have an elite offensive center in the Bruins organization. Instead Sweeney decided to reach for Zboril and Senyshyn, who have provided nothing for the Bruins.
Another member of the 2015 Draft who is tearing up the league is Brock Boeser. He went 23rd overall to the Vancouver Canucks out of the USHL. Boeser just made a name for himself nationally at the NHL All Star game by winning the MVP over some of the league’s best players. True hockey fans have known who Boeser is for months. The rookie right wing has been lighting the lamp all over the ice with 28 goals and 48 points. The shot this kid has is absolutely insane. He can pick a corner from any spot on the ice. While the Bruins have some good offensive players none of them have the potential that Boeser has. He may have the highest offensive potential of any rookie in the NHL. The scary part is the rookie can only get better going forward which should have Bruins fans furious.
What Could Have Been
Think about it like this: if Sweeney was a better evaluator the Bruins could have had a line of Debrusk/Barzal/Boeser. Anyone who would not want to see that is insane. Maybe Zboril and Senyshyn will turn into legit players, or maybe they will not. But Barzal and Boeser have already proven they are going to be superstars. While the Bruins are a good team they could have been a great team. The two picks that never happened could define Sweeney’s legacy when it’s all said and done.
Cover image courtesy of CBS Boston.