BREAKING NEWS: Boston Bruins ink general manager Peter Chiarelli to a four-year extension.
All right, so it is not quite breaking news. A lot has happened, actually, with the Boston Bruins since our last edition. With training camp starting up in a little over a week, we will be getting to that. While we wait, time to wax intellectual about the most recent happenings for the Black-and-Gold.
On Thursday, it was announced the Bruins and Chiarelli had settled on a deal that will keep the GM in the Hub through the 2017-2018 season, further extending a reign that dates back to the summer of 2006. By and large, the Bruins faithful rejoiced at the signing, heralding Chiarelli as the man who has led the resurgence of the Bruins over his seven seasons at the helm.
And why would they not? How many general managers have had more success since Chiarelli’s first season in 2006-2007?
Therein lies the beauty of the Chiarelli Era and his extension. It has all been so delightfully – well – Chiarelli.
Like all of the contract extensions he seems to hand out, you love the idea of it and the deal comes off as brilliant. The more you think about it, however, the more questions you have. When you break it down, how good has Chiarelli really been?
Since that is what got us to this point in the first place, we will start there. Where the GM gets high marks in this regard is that, until this spring, he has yet to allow a major piece of the Bruins’ core get to the unrestricted free agent market without being extended. Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask, both of whom signed lucrative deals this summer, are just the most recent names. Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Andrew Ference, David Krejci (twice), the now jettisoned Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand (twice), even Marc Savard and Tim Thomas, all received extensions from Chiarelli.
Where Chiarelli draws ire is, because of his penchant for locking up players before their time comes, some of the deals make one wonder if he is signing his players for above market value? Maybe not grossly above market value, but just enough to wonder who is getting the better end of the deal, player or team?
It is an issue that came into greater focus this offseason as the salary cap ceiling came down following last winter’s lockout and the Bruins were forced to let go of players like Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference and Rich Peverley because of their cap numbers. Players like Chris Kelly (avg. $3 million per season), Lucic ($6 mil per), Krejci ($5.25 mil per), even Bergeron and Rask ($7 mil each) are all probably making somewhere between a quarter to three-quarters of a million more than they should be.
By and large, all of Chiarelli’s extensions look great on the surface, even if they are slightly overvalued. When you add up the cap room the Bruins might have, though, and play they ‘what if…’ game makes you wonder.
Final Grade: B+
Somewhat of a controversial issue when it comes to evaluating Chiarelli. Signed in May, some view Chiarelli as the general manager of record at the 2006 draft, the one that proved pivotal in the Bruins recent success as Phil Kessel, Lucic and Marchand were all taken that year. Chiarelli, however, did not fully take over control until July, well after the draft, so there is often debate as to how much credit he can be given for those successes.
That 2006 draft notwithstanding, however, the Bruins at the draft have since been just awful. Of his first three first round picks – Zach Hamill (2007, 8th overall), Joe Colborne (2008, 16th overall), Jordan Caron (2009, 25th overall) – only one is still with the organization and has shown flashes of being a bottom six forward at best. His next two – Tyler Seguin (2010, second overall), Dougie Hamilton (2011, ninth overall) – were both top picks and show great potential to be studs at the NHL level, but not only was Seguin shipped out of town after just three seasons, the picks used to take those players were acquired via trade, leading one to wonder how good the Bruins choices would have been those seasons if they had not been gifted such high picks?
Maybe it is too early to judge Chiarelli too harshly on the more recent drafts, particularly in the later rounds, but the fact remains Seguin was the only Chiarelli draft pick who took the ice in Game 6 of this year’s Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawk. That, along with the fact the Bruins recently fired their director of amateur scouting is not a sign they have been very good.
Final Grade: C-
To complete the compliment sandwich of Chiarelli’s reign, his ability to trade has been downright brilliant.
Maybe not perfect (SEE: Kris Versteeg for Brandon Bochenski), but Chiarelli hits far more than he misses. With the deal that sent Andrew Raycroft to Toronto for Rask taking place in that in between time in 2006, it all starts with the Phil Kessel trade and works backwards from there.
Kessel for picks the picks that became Seguin, Hamilton and prospect Jared Knight.
Dennis Wideman and a pair of picks to Florida for Horton and Gregory Campbell.
Byron Bitz, Craig Weller (neither of whom played in the league last year) and a 2010 second round pick for Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski.
Another second round pick for Kelly.
Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums to Tampa for Mark Recchi and a pick.
Matt Hendricks for Johnny Boychuk.
Even the Tomas Kaberle deal, considered one of his flops, can not have been all that bad really, considering the Bruins still won the Stanley Cup that year.
Like his recent drafts, time will tell on Chiarelli’s most recent deal, which sent Seguin, forward Rich Peverley and prospect Ryan Button to Dallas in exchange for Loui Eriksson and three prospects, but the Bruins GM has been like a juiced up power hitter when it comes to navigating the trade market.
Final Grade: A
As I have tried to get this written over the past three days, like a bipolar binge, I could not decide if I wanted this to be a piece slamming Chiarelli’s mistakes and his smug, “I’m the smartest man in the room” demeanor or praising some absolute brilliance, wishing to spend just one day learning from the man.
In the end, however, it is hard to argue with results.
The Bruins have qualified for the playoffs every year with the exception of his first. Posted a 291-187-62 record, won three division titles, the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in nearly four decades and came within 61:30 of winning a second. Since 2009, the Bruins have been perennially amongst the top teams in the NHL and that is most likely a trend that is not going to end this coming season.
And, if nothing else, Chiarelli should be the pundit-fan hybrid’s dream, providing plenty of fodder with all the decisions he makes, but then providing wins to rejoice over.
He may not have drafted, signed or acquired many of the key cogs to the Bruins success, but he has shaped a team and a program that has revitalized professional hockey in Boston. The greatest general manager of all time as he has been touted in some circles this week? Maybe not, but still can probably be said the Bruins lucked out when Ray Shero opted to go to Pittsburgh, paving the way for Chiarelli in Boston.
Final Grade: B+
About the Author
Written by Matt Preston
I'm no Heminway or Haggerty, but keeping the dream alive, even if I'm pretty sure my Nana is my only follower. Self-deprecation is key, grammar is optional.