So, it’s the offseason and while the NHL playoffs have so far been great, as usual, we Bruins fans are pondering what the team will do this summer to improve. Sure, the D needs help, yada yada yada. But what else? Well, there’s a new 5-part series on CSNNE.com that takes a look at rebuilding the Bruins, and I thought it would be fun to take a point/counterpoint approach to each part.
Note, this is in no way a criticism of the series or the viewpoints. Just one person’s opinion.
Part Two is “Draft and Development.” Off we go ….
See, part of the problem with playing younger players is, well, their young. For every Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid, there is a David Pastrnak, who obviously has talent but is thrown into a situation that he may not be ready for, and consequently makes mistakes.
The Bruins needed Pastrnak to play a top six role, and that was an issue. Ideally he should’ve played on a 3rd or 4th line to get his feet wet, which would have no doubt sent Bruins fans into a tizzy. Claude Being Claude and all.
But for those that want to “play the kids” you’ll need to live with their mistakes, particularly on the defensive side. Now, for the Bruins to rely somewhat heavily in Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, Colin Miller, Matt Irwin, etc. wasn’t fair to them as they obviously weren’t ready, and that’s on GM Don Sweeney.
But while the coaches handled Pastrnak well, they failed at times with Frank Vatrano and Colin Miller. Honestly, the Vatrano thing is starting to piss me off. Sure, the kids has potential, and as the article points out he had 4 points in 5 games upon his last call up. But, as we mentioned yesterday, he also had 1 point in the last 5 games of the year, and a big ole’ bagel in the last four. So let’s pump the breaks just a tad on Frankie, K?
We’ve also previously touched on the prospect group the Bruins have, and while many think the cupboard is bare, the B’s do seem to have a good crop, with Danton Heinen, Brandon Carlo, Vatrano, Austin Czarnik, and more. And if the Bruins sign Jimmy Vesey then add another. But again, the question is, if you put Vesey in a big role is he ready?
The Bruins no longer have that kind of quality roster depth, and won’t anytime soon unless a lot of these prospects come through. That means young players like Pastrnak are forced into bigger roles they might not be ready for. The Bruins need to supplement their youth with younger veterans to ease their transition into the NHL. And they have that with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. It would be helpful if the Bruins could find a veteran with something left in the tank to help the kids while also contributing something on the ice at the same time.
While Julien clearly did play a role in the emergence of Marchand, David Krejci and Milan Lucic as NHL stars, developing young players has never been one of his coaching strengths. He certainly bears some responsibility for elite young talents like Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton not lasting in Boston. He does? Kessel had 36 goals in his last year in Boston. Seguin had 29 his last full year in Boston. Hamilton steadily became a contributor in his three years. Can Julien can be blamed for Kessel and Hamilton not wanting to be in Boston? Perhaps. But it’s not his fault Kessel thought defense was the same thing as having a salad, or that management jumped the gun on trading Seguin. Marchand, and likely Torey Krug as well, are going to get PAID soon and they have Julien to thank for that to some degree. And with rumors that Providence coach Bruce Cassidy will be joining Julien’s staff next year, that should help given Cassidy’s familiarity with these prospects and ability to relate to them.
The bottom line is this for the Bruins: They need the best draft-and-development season they’ve had in quite a while if things are going to significantly change for the better on Causeway Street. I’m not sure what is meant by “draft and development season” but sure the Bruins need to have another good draft (picking 14th) and signing Vesey would be a huge get. One could say they had a pretty good “season” last year with the drafting of three 1st’s and signing Heinen.
This is a real fine line the Bruins are walking, trying to incorporate younger talent and at the same time wanting to make the playoffs. Sometimes you can’t have it both ways, and sometimes you can. And the key is supplementing your young talent with proven veterans that can ease their transition and put them in the best position to succeed.