So, what exactly are the Bruins doing?
It was just a few months ago that GM Gallant drafted 10 fresh faces to the team, lead by Victor Soderstrom, Jakub Pelletier and Samuel Poulin, all drafted in the first round. Fast-forward two months and the team seems to have deviated from its path from the previous 24 months as Boston completed four trades that have changed the look of the franchise.
The biggest acquisition occurred only 24 hours ago when Boston sent both of their own first round picks in 2021 and 2022, as well as prospect defenseman Bode Wilde to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for unsigned star Matt Duchene. “How many chances do you have to get a player like Matt?” GM Gallant said in a media scrum early this morning. “I spoke to him briefly last night, he’s excited. Obviously it’s tough going from a powerhouse like Vancouver but I think we sold him on what we’re building here.” Duchene, 28, will be meeting with GM Gallant to finalize a contract and is expected to center the top line once that’s ironed out.
“We like Bode a lot,” Gallant said of the promising young player. “He’ll thrive out there I’m sure. We looked at our draft picks coming up and yeah it’s never easy to give up a first round pick, let alone two, but we kept our 2020 first, which was key for us. We’ve still got what it is, nine picks this year? Then we another nine in each of the two years after that. We’ll be fine.”
It is believed that Boston began their pursuit of the RFA star in early August, and although talks stalled a few times, Gallant was persistent and confident that an agreement could be reached. To complete the deal, Boston also sent pending UFA veterans Mathieu Perreault and Michael Raffl, who are expected to be bought out, while prospect Cole Guttman joins Duchene in Boston.
The first of the trades happened in mid-July when the Bruins acquired both Colin Miller and Zach Aston-Reese from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Victor Mete, a third round pick and a fourth round pick, both from the upcoming draft. Aston-Reese is expected to play wing on the third line while Miller’s defensive skills will anchor the penalty kill.
Following that trade, Boston remained quiet and were looking at their options. When Ryan Dzingel’s name was dropped, Gallant initiated talks with GM Thompson immediately. The following day, the Blues agreed to trade the young winger in exchange for Colorado’s first round picks in 2021 and newly drafted defenseman Anttoni Honka. “We were happy with Honka being a bit of a project, kind of a risky pick but Ryan is going to be a special player,” Gallant said. “He’s entering his prime and has a great contract. We actually threw our name in the ring with the Flames last season but we weren’t willing to give up the assets that they were looking for at the time. Thompson wanted Honka at the draft so they zeroed in on him pretty quickly. Colorado’s pick should be pretty late in the round, and we get a player that’ll be a part of the lineup for a long time to come.”
Two weeks later, J.T. Miller became a Bruin. Much like what they did with Dzingel, Boston reached out to Toronto almost immediately after hearing him name being thrown around as a possible trade target. Young defenseman Cal Foote, Gallant’s first draft pick with the Bruins, was sent to Toronto along with Edmonton’s fourth round pick in 2020. His recent success with Toronto, winning both the Stanley Cup and being named the Conn Smythe as the playoffs MVP, were very attractive attributes and is expected to center the second line after Duchene signs.
To compliment these acquisitions, Boston also signed speedy winger Paul Byron to a four year deal with an AAV of $2.5 million, as well as goaltender Carter Hutton. He signed for two years at $3.75 million a season. The expectation there is to have Byron be a big part of the team’s penalty kill while manning a position on the second line, and eventually slide into a more comfortable third line position. Hutton meanwhile is expected to be the clear starting goaltender in 2021 with Phoenix Copley backing him up. Thomas Greiss, a UFA at year’s end, is not expected to be brought back.
“We’ve crunched the numbers and we have a plan in place,” Gallant said. “We’re looking good heading into next off-season and will be looking to add at that point too. The league has probably noticed, but I’m a pretty active GM, whether it’s helping re-stock the cupboards or improving the immediate lineup. We’ve got lots of picks, we’ve got lots of options. The city deserves a team worth cheering for and I want to be a part of that. Johny Hynes wants to be a part of that. We’re far from done.”