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Ranking all of Don Sweeney’s trades

May 15, 2020, 4:13 PM ET [4 Comments]
Anthony Travalgia
Boston Bruins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Since taking over for the fired Peter Chiarelli as general manager of the Boston Bruins, Don Sweeney has made 21 trades. Some of those have been a slam dunk, (trading for Charlie Coyle) while some have fallen flat on its face (trading for Jimmy Hayes).

Let’s try and rank those 21 trades from worst to best. Factoring in these rankings are the trade itself, the production from who was traded since, and how the Bruins did in that particular season of the trade.


July 1, 2015

To Florida Panthers:
Reilly Smith
Marc Savard

To Boston Bruins:
Jimmy Hayes

At the time this trade made sense. Hayes was coming off of a career high in goals, (19) assists (16) and points (35). Five days later the Dorchester, MA native was signed to a three-year $6.9 million contract.

After a 51-point campaign during his first season in Boston, Smith’s production dropped by 11 points in a season where Smith battled consistency issues. After signing a two-year, $6.85 million contract days before the start of the 2014-15 season, moving Savard and Smith for Hayes helped the Bruins free up some much-needed cap space.

Hayes would play 133 games with the Bruins across two seasons, but never found his footing in Boston. The former Boston College Eagle standout scored just 15 times and added 19 assists in those 133 games. Hayes spent nearly half the 2016-17 season as a healthy scratch. Hayes is currently out of the league and hasn’t played an NHL game since spending the 2017-18 season with the New Jersey Devils.

Smith on the other hand had two solid seasons in Florida before joining the Vegas Golden Knights where he has been a key contributor for the NHL’s newest franchise. Smith has had at least 50 points in four of the five seasons since the trade and had 27 goals, 27 assists and 54 points at the time of the NHL’s shutdown due to COVID-19.


June 19, 2015

To Philadelphia Flyers:
2017 3rd round pick (Kirill Ustimenko)

To Boston Bruins:
Zac Rinaldo

The trade for Rinaldo was the first head scratching trade Sweeney made after taking over as the team’s general manager. Rinaldo played 52 games with the Bruins during the 2015-16 season, producing just three points.

Before being placed on waivers and sent to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, Rinaldo was suspended by the NHL for five games for an illegal hit delivered to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cédric Paquette.

Just days after being sent to the AHL with his NHL suspension still hanging over his head, Rinaldo was again suspended for an incident in a game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, his first game after being demoted.

Ustimenko has failed to make it past the AHL, splitting time between the ECHL and AHL in the 2019-20 season. But that doesn’t matter. Giving up anything for Rinaldo was a disaster at the time.


February 29, 2016

To New Jersey Devils:
2017 2nd round pick (Mario Ferraro)
2016 4th round pick (Evan Cormier)

To Boston Bruins:
Lee Stempniak

Buyers at the 2016 trade deadline, Stempniak was one of two trade deadline additions. Bringing in Stempniak for some much-needed depth was fine, but this was a trade that left Bruins fans angry.

Heading into the 2015-16 season, Stempniak was an unrestricted free agent, and the Bruins had shown interest. They ended up passing on Stempniak who signed a one-year deal with the Devils for $850,000. Giving up two draft picks for a guy they could have had months earlier for nothing did not go over too well.

The Devils would end up trading the 2017 2nd round pick to the Sharks which they used to select defenseman Mario Ferraro. After two years of college hockey at UMASS Amherst, Ferraro has developed into a solid bottom-four defenseman for the Sharks, playing in 61 games to date in the 2019-20 season.


June 25, 2016

To Florida Panthers:
2016 7th round pick (Benjamin Finkelstein)

To Boston Bruins:
2017 7th round pick (Victor Berglund)

A swap of draft picks that turned into two prospects who have yet to make an impact at the professional level. Finkelstein has 31 points through two seasons at Boston College while Berglund has yet to make his way to North America, spending the 2019-20 season playing hockey in Sweeden.


June 27, 2015

To Minnesota Wild:
2015 5th round pick (Kirill Kaprizov)

To Boston Bruins:
2016 5th round pick (Cameron Clarke)

Another swap of draft picks on draft day for the Bruins. Kaprizov has played in the KHL since the 2014-15 season. His KHL contract has recently expired meaning Kaprizov could finally make his way to North America. Clarke just completed his senior year at Ferris State, finishing his collegiate career with 33 points.


February 22, 2018

To Florida Panthers:
Frank Vatrano

To Boston Bruins:
2018 3rd round pick (Jakub Lauko)

It was a trade that made sense at the time as Vatrano had just two points in 25 games. A dominant player for the Bruins at the AHL level, the end of Vatrano’s tenure in Boston was filled with inconsistency and healthy scratches.

Since being sent to Florida, Vatrano has been able to rejuvenate his career with 81 points in 166 games for a young Panthers team.

Although Lauko has developed into a middle tier prospect for the Bruins, he still needs to show some improvement in his all-around game before being considered an option for the big club.

After playing junior hockey in Canada last season, Lauko played just 22 games with the Providence Bruins this season due to an injury suffered at the World Junior Championship.


February 20, 2018

To New York Rangers:
Rob O’Gara
2018 3rd round pick (Joey Keane)

To Boston Bruins:
Nick Holden

Hoping for a long playoff run, the Bruins were looking for some depth on the blueline. Trading for Holden did that for them. At the time Holden was playing top minutes for the Rangers which was more a testament to the Rangers defensive talent than it was Holden’s play. Holden played 18 games in the regular season for the Bruins, but just two in the playoffs. Other than being a place holder on the depth chart, Holden didn’t do much for the Bruins.

One of the Bruins better prospects on a crowded Bruins blueline at the time, O’Gara has yet to pan out, playing just 22 games with the Rangers since the trade. O’Gara has spent the last two seasons in the AHL.

In 48 games in the AHL, Keane has 37 points.


February 29, 2016

To Carolina Hurricanes:
Anthony Camara
2016 3rd round pick (Jack Lafontaine)
2017 5th round pick (Jonathan Dugan)

To Boston Bruins:
John-Michael Liles

Like the trade for Stempiak, the trade for Liles was another depth move aimed at a long playoff run. Liles was solid for the Bruins, picking up six assists in 17 regular season games with the Bruins. Liles signed a one-year contract with the Bruins following the trade, appearing in 36 regular season games and 6 playoff games during the 2016-17 campaign, his last in the NHL.

Camara spent parts of two seasons in the AHL following the trade and since has taken his game overseas where he spent the 2019-20 season in Sweden.

Completing his junior campaign two months ago at the University of Minnesota, Lafontaine has gotten better with each NCAA season. The 22-year old goalie finished 2019-20 with a 2.54 save percentage and a .919 goals-against average.

Dugan has turned into a nice prospect for the Hurricanes, with 91 points in 75 games across two seasons at Providence College.


February 26, 2018

To Chicago Blackhawks:
2019 5th round pick (Antti Saarela)

To Boston Bruins:
Tommy Wingels

Acquired the day after the Bruins traded for Rick Nash, Tommy Wingels failed to make an impact with the Bruins, picking up 5 points in 18 games. Wingels appeared in 4 playoff games with the Bruins after the trade, failing to earn a point in the process. With the trade for Nash and the signing of Brian Gionta the day before, it was a move that felt a little unnecessary.

The 18-year old Saarela has yet to make the jump to North America, continuing his hockey career in Finland.


March 1, 2017

To Winnipeg Jets:
2018 5th round pick (Declan Chisholm)

To Boston Bruins:
Drew Stafford

As one of Sweeney’s deadline deals in 2017, it was a move that didn’t rock the boat at all. The move was a low-risk, high-reward deal for the Bruins as Stafford was having a down year due to injuries. Thanks to the ineffectiveness of Jimmy Hayes, the Bruins were forced into bringing in more forward depth. Stafford was serviceable in his brief time in Boston, finishing the year with eight points in 18 regular season games and two goals in six playoff games.

The 20-year old Chisholm has been an offensive powerhouse for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL, producing 137 points in 173 games. How his talent translate to professional hockey remains to be seen.


January 11, 2019

To Ottawa Senators:
Cody Goloubef

To Boston Bruins:
Paul Carey

Nothing more than an AHL move, Carey has been a key member of what has been a successful Providence Bruins team over the last two seasons. In 90 games with Providence, the Boston native has 72 points. Carey was named captain of the P-Bruins in October of 2019.

Since the trade, the veteran Goloubef has played in 31 NHL games between the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings, picking up 2 points in the process.


February 24, 2020

To Anaheim Ducks:
Danton Heinen

To Boston Bruins:
Nick Ritchie

As much as I thought Heinen was a valuable piece to the Bruins, and as much as I don’t think Ritchie brings much to the table, the cap space the Bruins freed up in this trade was the most important piece to this deal. But now thanks to the COIVD-19 pandemic shutting down the league and the cap likely staying flat for the 2020-21 season, this trade looks to be even more in the Bruins favor.

With just 7 games in Boston under his belt, it’s unfair to write Ritchie off. So if you look at the big picture of the Bruins being able to move a player to free up cap space, while getting a player who you have control of in return, it was a good move by Sweeney.


February 25, 2018

To New York Rangers:
Ryan Spooner
Matt Beleskey
Ryan Lindgren
2018 1st round pick (Jacob Bernard-Docker)
2019 7th round pick (Massimo Rizzo)

To Boston Bruins:
Rick Nash

Sitting in third place overall in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins landed the big fish they wanted in Rick Nash. Despite just 28 points at the time of the trade, Nash was expected to be the perfect fit with David Krejci. Bringing that same style of play that Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton brought to the table that worked so well with Krejci, the excitement around this deal was high.

Unfortunately, injuries hindered Nash’s run in Boston, limiting him to just six points in 11 games with the Bruins. Nash was solid for the Bruins in the playoffs with five points in 12 games, but it was clear that he wasn’t quite himself.

Nash was forced to retire the following offseason due to complications from his head injury.

As for the return for Nash, Spooner went on to play 36 games with the Rangers before playing 26 games with the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers. Spooner spent the 2019-20 season in the KHL.

Getting Beleskey’s contract off the books was key for the Bruins in this deal. Beleskey only played in five games for the Rangers across two seasons, spending the majority of last season in the AHL. In 2019-20, Beleskey had 26 points in 56 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack.


June 25, 2015

To Colorado Avalanche:
Carl Soderberg

To Boston Bruins:
2016 6th round pick (Oskar Steen)

As an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015, it was made clear the Bruins had no interest in resigning forward Carl Soderberg. With that in mind, being able to move his UFA rights for anything was a win for Sweeney in my book.

With the pick the Bruins got for Soderberg they were able to land prospect Oskar Steen who has become one of the Bruins more interesting prospects. The 22-year old Steen could find his way to the Bruins roster as soon as the 2020-21 season.

Steen just completed his first season of professional hockey in North America, finishing the 2019-20 season with 23 points in 60 games with the Providence Bruins. Steen was one of the final training camp cuts this past October after an impressive showing in the preseason.

Although hopes were high for him entering his first season in North America, Steen will be one to keep an eye on in training camp.


September 11, 2018
To New York Rangers:
Adam McQuaid

To Boston Bruins:
Steven Kampfer
2019 4th round pick (Cade Webber)
2019 7th round pick (Jake Schmaltz)

There was no denying that McQuaid was a fan favorite. A guy who always gave it 100%, always stuck up for his teammates and was never afraid to drop the gloves when needed. With all that being said, it was a move that made total sense for Sweeney.

The Bruins had eight NHL ready defensemen at the time and it was clear as day that one had to go. The season prior McQuaid appeared in only 38 games thanks to injuries and a handful of healthy scratches. The development of Kevan Miller also made McQuaid expendable. Although the return for McQuaid hasn’t quite been the most exciting, the Bruins were also able to free up nearly $3 million in the process.


February 25, 2019

To New Jersey:
2019 2nd round pick (Nikita Okhotyuk)
2020 4th round pick (TBD)

To Boston Bruins:
Marcus Johansson

A week after trading for Charlie Coyle, the Bruins added much needed help on the wing, bringing Marcus Johansson in for the Bruins playoff run. Johansson got off to a slow start with the Bruins as injuries caused him to miss some time in the regular season. Johansson appeared in just 10 regular season games, chipping in with three points. But it was the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs where the trade paid off for Sweeney and the Bruins.

Johansson and Coyle found instant chemistry in the playoffs, serving as one of their most consistent lines in the playoffs. In 22 playoff games, Johansson had four goals, seven assists and 11 points.


June 26, 2015

To LA Kings:
Milan Lucic

To Boston Bruins:
Martin Jones
Colin Miller
2015 1st round pick (Jakub Zboril)

In his first full month as general manager of the Bruins in 2015, Sweeney made a splash with his trades and ensuing draft picks. Trading fan favorite Milan Lucic was one of those bigger splashes. Lucic instantly became a hit in Boston and was a key part of their 2011 Stanley Cup team. Lucic notched 139 goals and 203 assists in 566 regular season games along with 772 penalty minutes during his time in Boston.

Coming off of an 18-goal season and carrying a $6 million cap hit, Sweeney saw Lucic in decline and was able to get the contract off the books before it was too late. With a rebuild of sorts ahead, Sweeney knew that if the team needed to be competitive in the coming years, carrying Lucic and his cap hit was not a good idea.

Although the Bruins shipped Jones off to San Jose later days later, and Sweeney swung and missed with Jakub Zboril in the draft, the return for a declining Lucic was favorable for the Bruins.
Miller turned into a nice depth piece for the Bruins in parts of two seasons, appearing in 103 games with the Bruins.


June 26, 2015

To Calgary Flames:
Dougie Hamilton

To Boston Bruins
2015 1st round pick (Zach Senyshyn)
2015 2nd round pick (Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson)
2015 2nd round pick (Jeremy Lauzon)

The second of two draft day trades made by Sweeney in 2015, many thought Sweeney could have, and should have gotten more for Hamilton. A restricted free agent at the time, Hamilton gave every indication he wanted out of Boston, forcing Sweeney’s hand. At the time, the Bruins reportedly offered Hamilton’s camp several different contract proposals, failing to get a single counter offer in return.

The reason why I have this ranked so highly is not because of what the Bruins got in return for Sweeney. Senyshyn may never consistently crack the Bruins roster and it’s unlikely Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson returns to professional hockey in North America. At least Jeremy Lauzon looks to be a solid choice, developing into a solid bottom pairing defenseman.

I have this ranked highly because of what the trade allowed the Bruins to do. The trade allowed the Bruins to give Torey Krug the keys to the Bruins power play and since then, Krug has developed into one of the game’s best power play quarterbacks.

Had the Bruins given Hamilton a long term contract, who knows what that would have meant for the development of Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, had the Bruins even drafted the two.


June 30, 2015

To San Jose Sharks:
Martin Jones

To Boston Bruins:
Sean Kuraly
2016 1st round pick (Trent Frederic)

After getting Martin Jones back in the deal that sent Lucic to the Kings, the Bruins had no need for Jones, sending the goalie to San Jose. The Sharks were in need of help between the pipes and forking up a first-round pick and Sean Kuraly proved to be a valuable return for the Bruins.

Kuraly has developed into a perfect fourth liner for the Bruins, a fourth line that head coach Bruce Cassidy often deploys against the other team’s top line. Kuraly has shown the tendency to show up in big games, especially in the playoffs where he has eight goals in 36 playoff games with the Bruins.

Frederic has turned into a nice prospect for the Bruins, and could be seeing a consistent role down the middle for the Bruins as soon as the 2020-21 season. Frederic has appeared in 17 games for the Bruins to date, going pointless in the process. But at the AHL level, Frederic has been solid with 65 points in 127 games.


February 21, 2020

To Anaheim Ducks:
David Backes
Axel Andersson
2020 1st round pick (TBD)

To Boston:
Ondrej Kase

Although it’s too early to judge who may have won or lost this trade because of the limited time we’ve seen Kase in Boston, this trade was a home run for the Bruins. Tight to the cap, the Bruins were desperate to move on from Backes and his $6 million cap hit.

The bar was set high when the Toronto Maple Leafs were forced to trade Patrick Marleau and a 1st round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes just to remove themselves from Marleau’s contract. So for Sweeney to do the same with Backes and get Kase—who the Bruins have control of beyond the 2019-20 season—credit should be given.


February 20, 2019

To Minnesota Wild:
Ryan Donato
2019 4th round pick (Cade Webber)

To Boston Bruins:
Charlie Coyle

The addition of Charlie Coyle was by far Sweeney’s best trade and it’s not even close. It was a slow start for Coyle in Boston while Donato got off to a hot start in Minnesota.

But the 2019 playoffs ended up as Coyle’s coming out party and he hasn’t looked back since. Coyle has played up and down the lineup for head coach Bruce Cassidy, playing both the wing and center positions in the process.

The Bruins just recently signed Coyle to a six-year extension while Donato has just 23 points in 62 games with the Wild. Coyle is in line to take over as one of the Bruins top-two centers should David Krejci and the Bruins part ways in the near future.
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