Boston Bruins

Winners and losers of the 2015 NHL Draft

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Hindsight is 20/20, but what about when something is so close it’s directly in your blind spot?

The 2015 NHL Draft is over, and with the long-awaited wave of prospects behind us, it will be years before we can truly judge what just happened. It would be foolish to hand out grades on the same day the draft ended. Who would do that, right?

Well, uh … about that.

Here’s a stab at some of the winners and losers from this busy, busy weekend in the NHL. Feel free to add your own suggestions and counterarguments in the comments (preferably kindly).

Winners

Oilers: They will smile upon this weekend for Connor McDavid alone, but GM Peter Chiarelli also made some interesting trades to improve the team with the likes of Cam Talbot and Griffin Reinhart.

Sabres: In the same “No, duh” spirit as the Oilers grabbing McDavid, the Sabres probably would have come up winners if they merely grabbed Jack Eichel and went into cruise control with picks.

Instead, GM Tim Murray was as busy as his selection announcement for Eichel was brief. Robin Lehner is, at minimum, someone Murray believes in. Ryan O’Reilly is a legit find, setting up Buffalo to have a scary 1-2 punch down the middle with Eichel.

Flames: OK, this has more to do with what happened before the draft than what happened during it … but landing Dougie Hamilton for a package of picks could end up being one of those moves we remember for ages.

That said, getting Oliver Kylington about a round after many believed he would be drafted (60th overall) isn’t chopped liver, either.

Islanders: Over the years, GM Garth Snow has steadily earned a reputation as one of the NHL’s sneaky-shrewdest executives. The 2015 NHL Draft will only strengthen those arguments.

Flyers: Are we prepared for a brave new world in which the Philadelphia Flyers are sober-minded and clever like this? Forgive reheating a joke from last night, but:

Losers

Bruins: Yes, the Bruins’ salary cap is slimmer, and they definitely nailed the draft from a “quantity” standpoint.

Still, they moved mountains to get picks 13-15, but the grades for their picks generally range from “not very sexy” to “huge reach.” Time will ultimately be new GM Don Sweeney’s judge, but right now, he’s probably not the most popular fellow among B’s fans.

Penguins: Actually, consider this grade more of an “Incomplete” than an “F.” Sometimes no splashy moves are better than reckless ones … still, Pittsburgh fans might be a little antsy.

Canucks: That’s a disappointing haul for Eddie Lack, but GM Jim Benning’s biggest mistake might have been forgetting to get an intern to tell him when the camera was on him:

Talk about a caption contest waiting to happen.

***

Again, the Bruins could very well end up laughing at all of us after making bold moves in the middle of the first round. Chances are, there are gems buried in later rounds that will drastically change how we view 2015.

Still, winners and losers lists are fun, so enjoy yourselves in the comments.

Just be nice.

Julien ‘pretty impressed’ with Sweeney’s moves

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Claude Julien has a weaker roster today than he did entering the draft. Gone in separate trades are Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, in return for prospects.

But the Bruins’ head coach struck a supportive tone late Friday when asked about his rookie general manager, Don Sweeney.

“First of all, I think you’ve got to give Don a lot of credit,” Julien said, per the Bruins’ website. “He’s come into this in this role and there was a lot on his plate, and a lot going on, and there were some tough decisions to be made, and personally, I’m pretty impressed with how he’s handled it.

“And that’s not to say that I’m happy that Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic are gone – we just lost two pretty good players, but those are moves that probably had to be made, obviously with the situation we’re in with the cap and everything else and the future.”

The decision to trade Hamilton was the most surprising. Sweeney offered a cryptic response when asked yesterday for an explanation.

“I think everyone considers Dougie as a foundational-type player,” said Sweeney, “and it was indicated to us that that might not be the case going forward in Boston.”

Regardless of why Hamilton left, the Bruins’ defense, a group that struggled last season to make up for the loss of Johnny Boychuk, will now have to try and make up for another big loss.

Sweeney called it “a great opportunity” for some of the “kids” on Boston’s defense — a sentiment with which his coach agreed.

“I can’t go into the year saying it’s going to be tough, I need to be optimistic, I need to believe,” said Julien. “We have guys who can skate, the Joe Morrows are down there, the [Zach] Trotmans, and there’s some more time here to maybe add if we need to.”

Boston becomes first team in 47 years to make three straight 1st-round picks

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SUNRISE — Boston Bruins fans won’t soon forget the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

In addition to dealing away prized young defenseman Dougie Hamilton and power forward Milan Lucic, the Bruins also made some history on Friday night, becoming the first team to make three consecutive first-round picks since the Montreal Canadiens did it in 1968.

With the 13th selection, acquired from Los Angeles in the Lucic trade, Boston took QMJHL Saint John defenseman Jakub Zboril. The Czech-born skater finished third among d-men in Quebec league scoring this year, and is regarded as a good offensive blueline prospect.

With the 14th pick, a familiar name — Jake DeBrusk, son of former NHLer Louie DeBrusk. The 19th-ranked North American skater, DeBrusk is coming off a terrific offensive campaign with WHL Swift Current and finished tied for sixth in the league in goalscoring, with 42.

Pick 15 (acquired from Calgary) was something of a surprise, as the B’s selected Zachary Senyshyn from OHL Sault Ste Marie. The 38th-ranked North American skater — up from 56 at the midterm — Senyshyn wasn’t on a lot of first-round mock drafts but did finish second among Ontario Hockey League rookies in goals (26) and points (45) before being named to the League’s Second All-Rookie Team this year.

All told, the Bruins replenished their prospect pool in a major way. Zboril, DeBrusk and Senyshyn will join a group that includes last year’s impressive rookie, David Pastrnak, Swedish d-man Linus Arnesson and ’12 first-rounder Malcolm Subban.

Trade: Buffalo keeps dealing, acquires O’Reilly from Colorado

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SUNRISE — The big trades haven’t stopped at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, as the Colorado Avalanche have sent talented young center Ryan O’Reilly and forward Jamie McGinn to Buffalo.

In exchange, the Avalanche receive Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher and the 31st overall selection. The move reunites Grigorenko with Avs head coach Patrick Roy, who was his coach in the Quebec junior league, and gives Colorado a much-needed blueline prospect (Zadorov) and an intriguing youngster in Compher, who has impressed at the University of Michigan.

The key to the deal, though, is O’Reilly, one of the best young two-way centers in the league. He arrives in Buffalo after some acrimonious contract negotiations with the Avs, which included a contract holdout and signing an offer sheet with Calgary during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign.

As a result of Colorado matching that offer sheet, O’Reilly’s heading into the last of a two-year, $12 million deal with a $6M average annual cap hit. There have been rumblings around him for the last few days, which intensified on Thursday when the Avs acquired the draft rights to center Carl Soderberg from Boston, then signed him to a five-year extension — believed by many as a move to replace O’Reilly down the middle.

Where O’Reilly fits in Buffalo remains to be seen.

He’s flipped between the middle and wing throughout his career, and could be headed back outside again with the likes of centers Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart in the mix.

O’Reilly had 17 goals and 55 points in 82 games last year, down slightly from a banner ’13-14 campaign in which he posted career-highs in goals (28) and points (64).

This is the second significant deal of the day for Sabres GM Tim Murray. Earlier, he acquired goalie Robin Lehner and forward David Legwand from Ottawa in exchange for the 21st pick at the draft.

Though the O’Reilly trade is in the books, Murray’s work isn’t done. He’ll need to get to work on a contract extension, as O’Reilly needs a new deal at season’s end.

Sweeney explains Hamilton trade: ‘We extended Dougie a very significant contract offer’

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SUNRISE — First Dougie Hamilton was traded to Calgary, with nothing but draft picks coming back. Then Milan Lucic was traded to Los Angeles, for a pick, a prospect, and a backup goalie.

As the hockey world gathered inside BB&T Center for the draft, everyone wanted to know — what were the Boston Bruins doing?

The biggest mystery surrounded Hamilton, the 22-year-old pending restricted free agent whom Bruins GM Don Sweeney labeled a “foundational-type player.”

Was it the fear of an offer sheet that led Sweeney to pull the trigger on the trade with the Flames?

“I wasn’t necessarily afraid of the offer sheet,” said Sweeney. “I thought that we’d be able to get into a position to match.

“We extended Dougie a very significant contract offer, and it didn’t lead us to where we thought we’d be able to, with him being comfortable being a part of our group long-term. So that sort of changed the course a little bit.”

Sweeney was asked why he felt Hamilton, considered one of the best young defensemen in the league, wouldn’t be comfortable staying in Boston.

“We extended a long-term deal to pursue that,” said Sweeney. “I think everyone considers Dougie as a foundational-type player, and it was indicated to us that that might not be the case going forward in Boston.”

So, he wanted out?

“No, he didn’t ask out,” Sweeney insisted. “We were in a position where we felt we would be better-served to move in a different direction.”

Okay.

Despite the loss of Hamilton and Lucic, the Bruins’ expectations remain to make the playoffs.

“With our goaltending, with the core group of our guys, our strength up the middle of the ice,” said Sweeney. “We had players that didn’t score to the level they were supposed to last year.

“Are we going to continue to look to improve our club? Absolutely.”