After a flurry of moves both external and internal, it appears for the most part the Boston Bruins are finished up with their offseason wheeling and dealing. Both the team GM Peter Chiarelli and team President Cam Neely have intimated they’re content with the current roster, so barring any last minute shakeups, what you see now should be the roster come opening night.
The two biggest transactions the Bruins pulled off occurred in a quick two-day span a few weeks ago. After calling out Tyler Seguin to the media, Chiarelli sent him to the Dallas Stars with Rich Peverley in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow. The next day, Boston signed free agent winger Jarome Iginla, who will be attempting to fix those bridges he torched in March when he turned down a trade to the Bruins.
With Seguin as well as playoff stalwart Nathan Horton departing Boston, Eriksson and Iginla will most likely find themselves inserted into the Bruins’ top forward lines next season. Iginla’s 19 years of power forward experience will be added to the top line of David Krejci and Milan Lucic, while Eriksson, a prominent two-way forward, will line up with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
So, the question must be asked: Are these revamped top lines better or worse than before the offseason?
Let’s look at the first line to start things off. Obviously, Iginla is not as young as he used to be. Had this have been a swap of Iginla and Horton while both were at the same stage of their careers, it’d be an incredible win for Boston. But, alas, this isn’t the case.
However, what Iginla lacks in age he makes up for in consistency. Coming into last year’s lockout-shortened season, the former Calgary Flame hadn’t scored less than 30 goals a year since 2000. The constant knock on Horton was how often he would disappear for weeks on end, peppering in a hot streak here or there.
Iginla also brings the right type of playing style to the top line. Krejci will once again have big-bodied wingers on both sides, as both Iginla and Lucic will use their strength by the net in order to create scoring chances. And when it comes to finishing, Iginla is one of the best in the NHL.
What about the second line? Though Seguin never amounted to his full potential, he was still young, with a high ceiling he could still achieve in the near future. The 21 year-old winger will be replaced by Eriksson, who will be 28 when the season begins.
As stark as that may sound, this isn’t the same age difference as Horton and Iginla. Eriksson is still in his prime and brings with him some consistent scoring touch. A former All-Star, he came into last season looking for his fourth straight 70+ point year. He can certainly help offensively, but what makes him a slight upgrade from Seguin is his defensive abilities.
Seguin was never one to wow opponents with his defense, and coach Claude Julien put him in the dog house multiple nights because of it. Eriksson is much more balanced, and joining Bergeron, perhaps the best two-way forward in the league, Boston’s second line could be a force.
The biggest unknown when diagnosing this trade is whether or not Seguin will reach his potential in Dallas. It’s easy to call the Bruins losers in this deal if their former “future” becomes a point-per-night player for the Stars, just as easy as it would be to applaud Boston for cutting their losses if Seguin keeps up the hard-partying ways we keep hearing about in the rumor mill.
So have the Bruins upgraded their top two lines? Though the definitive answer won’t be coming until this fall, there certainly seems to be reason for optimism. Horton took with him some youth, but Iginla brings consistency and worlds of experience. Eriksson might not be as young as Seguin, but his scoring touch and defense will make Boston’s second line much more powerful.
It’s too early to tell for sure, but right now it appears the Bruins have changed for the better.