Jack Edwards does not hold back on Bruins' recent struggles
The Johnny Boychuk trade still has many scratching their heads according to Jack Edwards. Photo: Alex Trautwig/Getty
In a recent interview on WEEI (93.7 FM) Jack Edwards was his candid self, spitting hot fire about the current status of the Boston Bruins as well as their uncertain future. Hosts DJ Bean and ESPN’s Joe McDonald asked Edwards about a variety of topics, all of which the NESN play-by-play announcer did not hold back on. Some of the more intriguing topics included the Reilly Smith contract extension, some of the higher priced players on the roster, and the current construction of the defense. Let’s take a look at these topics and see whether Jack was reasonable with his opinions.
Trade Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic?
When you mention Zdeno Chara’s name on the trade block, some people instantly throw stats at you that he is still an elite defenseman and getting rid of him is insanity. They are correct, but stats don’t tell you everything. In the interview Dylan Jack says the Bruins should consider speaking to the captain about his no-movement clause. He followed up that suggestion by saying moving Chara would change this team dramatically. However, in discussing the defense later in the interview, Edwards re-iterated the fact that Bruins need to adapt to the changes in the NHL and that Chara’s game is not perfectly suited for the rising new style of play in the NHL.
Jack also mentioned Milan Lucic as a possible trade chip and that his performance is not living up to his contract. According to capgeek.org, Lucic’s current cap hit is $6 million until the end of next season. Lucic can be one of the most dominating players in the league when he’s fully engaged, but that consistency continues to be a problem. Lucic does not hit or score as much as he can and the frustration is building in Boston. Peter Chiarelli has repeatedly denied interest in trading Lucic, but we've seen PC make big moves before.
Both players are very important parts of the identity of this team. Chara is a lead-by-example type of captain and still has gas left in the tank. Lucic is still young and many teams would be interested in his services. Both players would still provide very good return if they were traded. As Edwards mentions in his interview, it is not unreasonable to listen to offers on any player who takes up a significant chunk of the salary cap. The GM of the Bruins, whether it’s Peter Chiarelli or not, needs to seriously consider moving one of these players this summer.
The Reilly Smith contract:
When asked about the contract extension for Reilly Smith Jack Edwards made the correct point that Reilly Smith got market value. He also answered with an emphatic “no” when asked if Smith’s new contract is a deterrent for other team’s interest in Smith.
This is an issue I disagree with Jack Edwards on. Jack is correct in saying Smith was going to get market value, but it did not have to be the Bruins who gave it to him. Unless Chiarelli has plans to trade Smith in the off-season, which is becoming increasingly more difficult, this contract extension may do more harm than good for a team tight against a strict salary cap.
Smith is supposed to be a top six forward on this team, but his production recently has left much to be desired. Smith arrived in Boston as a secondary piece in the Seguin deal and exceeded all expectations during the first half of his inaugural season with the Bruins. Since then, Smith has been mediocre at best with only twelve goals this year through seventy-two games. His confidence right now seems shot during a time his team needs him to produce. Smith is still young, but like the Bruins, he's trending in the wrong direction.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Smith. His contract has term and appropriate market value so he isn’t unattractive in terms of money owed. The Bruins have to hope that his play turns around or they will have another unnecessary contract eating into their already tight salary cap.
The Johnny Boychuk trade:
As Jack Edwards said in his interview, “this is the thing that continues to haunt this team”. Johnny Boychuk was not only one of the team’s best defenseman, he was also one of the most popular in the locker room. Boychuk was always willing to defend a teammate, make a big hit at the blue line, and play very solid defense in his own zone. All these qualities make a perfect Bruins’ defenseman and yet Boychuk is now a New York Islander for probably his entire career.
We can lament and question this trade all we want, but the reasoning Chiarelli had for doing it seems clear. He needed to free up cap space and his trade value was at its’ highest point for the Bruins. Boychuk was a UFA before being signed by the Islanders long-term. Chiarelli knew he had no chance of signing Boychuk and he would not have traded him at the deadline this year if Boychuk was still a Bruin.
While the reasons for trading Boychuk seem logical, it does not take away from the impact of the trade on this team. You can make the argument that this season was doomed the second after Chiarelli made this trade just days before the start of the regular season. Injuries have decimated Boston’s defense all season and Boychuk is as solid as they come in the NHL. We may not see the fruit of the draft picks exchanged in the Boychuk deal for a while in Boston, if ever. This trade along with the fact that Chiarelli did not acquire a d-man at the deadline may be what seals the GM’s fate in Boston.