Let’s play a little hindsight gymnastics.
Quick question: would you make this trade?
Joe Thornton, Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin for Matt Bartkowski, Loui Eriksson, Alexander Fallstrom, Matt Fraser, Dougie Hamilton, Alexander Khokhlachev, Jared Knight, Joe Morrow, Dennis Seidenberg and Reilly Smith.
Because that’s what the Boston Bruins are left with after trading three future superstars and one well above average player before their primes in four separate trades.
If Thornton, Kessel, Wheeler or Seguin were still with Boston today, each would be the team’s top scorer. Seguin, of course, leads the NHL in goals and points.
One dumb deal is a mistake. Two is a coincidence. Three is a trend. Four is…WTF is going on?
Peter Chiarelli has been the GM since May 2006, so he wasn’t around for the Thornton thievery, but he pulled the trigger on the other three.
Boston drafted Thornton No. 1 overall in 1997. After Chiarelli was hired, he drafted Kessel at No. 5 in 2006 and Seguin at No. 2 in 2010. In between, he signed Wheeler, taken fifth by the Coyotes in 2004, as a free agent in 2008.
Thornton was 26 when the Bruins traded him to San Jose in 2005 for Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm. Those three players eventually turned into Andrew Ference, Chuck Kobesew and Craig Weller. After dealing the latter two, Boston is now left with Bartkowski, Fallstrom, Khokhlachev and Seidenberg.
Kessel was just 21 when Boston dealt him to Toronto in 2009 for three draft picks, which turned in Seguin, Hamilton and Knight.
Wheeler was 24 when the Bruins excommunicated him to Atlanta during 2010-11 for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik, neither of whom is with the B’s anymore.
Seguin, meanwhile, was traded to Dallas (with Peverley) in 2012 for Eriksson, Fraser, Morrow and Smith, all of whom are still with the Bruins. Like Kessel, Seguin was only 21 when he was shipped out.
The obvious rebuttal, of course, is that these trades, despite how ugly they look now, ultimately helped Boston win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and get to the final two years later.
Fair enough. But the Bruins could have had (most of) their cake and eaten it, too.
Seidenberg, Peverley and Ference – the only three players received in the above trades to play in both those playoffs (Bartkowski played in 2013) – were good roles players in the Bruins’ two long playoff runs. But Seidenberg and Ference were acquired through secondary trades at much lower costs, and the Bruins didn’t have to give up Wheeler just to get Peverley.
Boston could have gotten all three of those players anyway and still retained Thornton and Wheeler, and also one of Kessel or Seguin.
The latter two were, in essence, traded for each other, so the Bruins couldn’t have had both under this 20/20 hypothetical scenario. And cap constraints would have made it unlikely for Boston to keep all of these stars, so one or two would have had to have been dealt anyway. But holding onto them longer, instead of dealing them away before their primes, would have upped the return on the trades significantly.
If that weren’t bad enough, it actually gets worse, because there’s also collateral damage to consider.
In the deal that brought Ference from Calgary to Boston in 2007, the Bruins included a fourth-rounder. The Flames used that pick to draft…
wait for it…