The Bruins are in a different spot then they are used to this summer. Normally during this time of year, the front office is re-signing players or going out and getting free agents to make another Cup run. But this offseason, the Bruins are faced with the difficult task of deciding to either keep or let go of certain players, as well as signing and drafting young talent in hopes of a minor rebuild and to hopefully get back to the playoffs.
Boston acquired a 2016 sixth round draft pick from the Colorado Avalanche for the rights to Carl Soderberg. To put it simply, this is tough. Obviously, Soderberg along with the rest of the Bruins struggled down the stretch of the 2014-2015 season. But that is no reason to pretty much give him away.
The Bruins were always very high on Soderberg. They acquired him from the St. Louis Blues in 2007 in exchange for Hannu Toivonen, and signed him to a three year deal in 2012. Soderberg showed a lot of promise during the 2014 playoffs against Montreal, but failed to meet expectations last season. Its sad to see the Bruins get such little in return for a player they worked hard to get and develop into a possible top-six forward. If the Bruins are willing to let go of a young one eyed-Carl then it will be interesting to see what they do with more established players like Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson who are all on the hot seat and could very well be traded.
Along with the departure of Soderberg, the Bruins also announced that Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell will not be returning to the team. These two guys have given it all for this franchise and their time in Boston is well appreciated by black and gold nation. But it is clearly time to move on from older players who are not top producers and give younger guys like Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak a solidified roster spot.
Former North Dakota goaltender and Hobey Baker finalist, Zane McIntyre, has indicated he is due to sign a two year entry level contract with the B's. If there is anything the Bruins need right now, its some young and talented goaltending. Obviously its Tuukka's crease for the time being, but as we all saw with Niklas Svedberg and Malcom Subban, neither of them is a reliable backup. It may be some time until McIntyre is opening the door for defensemen or standing in the crease at TD, but its a good start for a team in desperate need of some support for their franchise goaltender.
Along with the acquisition of McIntyre the Bruins have also signed defenseman, Tommy Cross and forward, Tyler Randell. While the Bruins are clearly trying to become a faster and younger team, these signings may suggest otherwise.
Its clear that the Bruins are moving on from the whole veteran bruiser style of play. But, Cross and Randell led the Providence Bruins penalties last season and are known to throw the body. Cross is a defensive defenseman, which is the type of d-man that the Bruins really need right now. Cross may not be in the starting lineup on opening night, but having a guy like him in your system who knows how to clear the puck, battle in the corner, and not turn the puck over in his own end is always a positive. Turnovers in their own end killed the Bruins this past season, and with Seidenberg and Chara aging rapidly we may see Tommy Cross playing for the black and gold real soon.
As for Randell, the power-forward weighs in at 197 pounds and is coming off his best season yet in the AHL in 2014-2015, where he had eleven goals, nine assists and led the team with 120 penalty minutes. Randell is clearly not the guy you want out there in a win or go home shootout attempt, but he is a guy who can provide some energy on the third or fourth line if the Bruins go through another injury crisis like they did last season. Randell's role on the Bruins likely will never be offensive minded, but if the Bruins ever need a guy to lay the body or stir things up a little then Randell could certainly be called up for a few games in the coming years.
Another young talent the Bruins have added this offseason is Rhode Island native, Noel Acciari. For those of you not familiar with college hockey, Acciari helped lead his Providence College Friars to a national championship in 2015, registering fifteen goals (leading the team) and seventeen assists. At 5'11, 205, the 23 year old forward definitely has the potential to skate, hit and compete in the NHL. Adding Acciari is a good move for the Bruins who are in desperate need of getting younger and adding depth to their system. Acciari may need a development year or two, but he should be wearing the B on his chest some time in the near future.
The Bruins also signed their 2013 sixth round pick, forward, Anton Blidh. The Swede is a familiar face for the Bruins' front office, as he has attended the last two Bruins' development camps. Blidh was a member of the Swedish national team at the 2015 world juniors in Canada, where he registered a goal and an assist in seven games. Blidh might be a good ways away from seeing NHL action, but it never hurts to add a young, speedy, and talented forward to your farm system.
The final signing for the Bruins this offseason is defenseman, Colton Hargrove. The Western Michigan product produced 62 points in his two year college career. Hargrove, a native of Texas, will look to become the first Texan to ever put on the black and gold sweater. He has a lot of offensive potential for a defenseman, and a couple years of development in Providence may help turn him into somebody who could be a starting defensemen for the Bruins one day.