How I wish the Bruins (and every other team I root for) had Bill Belichick for a General Manager.
The Bruins today traded the negotiating rights for Carl Soderberg to the Colorado Avalanche, who are apparently in the business of getting scorers from the 2014 Presidents’ Trophy winning team. The B’s got back a 6th rounder, and while I am happy with the trade that Don Sweeney made today, it also highlights a mistake that his predecessor, Peter Chiarelli, made in March.
In March, I asked a few of my friends hypothetically, “Would you trade Carl Soderberg and all of Dennis Seidenberg’s horrible contract to a team for nothing in return?” Many of my friends answered no, and I was one of the few who answered yes. To be fair to my friends and anyone who would have said no, at that time, the Bruins were holding onto one of the Wild Card spots and we thought they’d make the playoffs, where Soderberg and mayyybe even Seidenberg (but probably not) would be helpful in a playoff series. But I feel very happy with the benefit of hindsight that I answered no to that question, because the team missed the playoffs and Chiarelli should have gotten whatever he could for Soderberg as a rental at the time.
Even without dumping Seids along with the One Eyed Swede, we can now say for sure that Chiarelli should have made the move. I may be forgetting someone, but I think that Derek Roy was the best center traded at the deadline this year, and he was traded for Marc Acobello, who I’ll admit to not knowing a ton about. But if David Perron can get a 1st round pick and a prospect from the Penguins when he plays left wing and had 19 points in 38 games for Edmonton, Chiarelli could’ve gotten a mid 1st round pick from a hopeful contender.
While I understand the mindset that you should never mess with a chance to make the playoffs, especially when the Bruins are a team with a pedigree and a ton of injuries last year, meaning they could be a sleeper playoff team, it shouldn’t have changed the trade for Soderberg. There were only about 20 games left in the season, and in a sport that is so much more defined by variance than anything else, Soderberg’s presence probably wouldn’t have cost the Bruins much at all. And they had options like Ryan Spooner, Alexander Khoklachev, and Chris Kelly to put in for Soderberg at 3rd line center. Krejci was injured at the time, but they still had the options to deal with the absence of Soderberg.
And maybe now that Soderberg’s gone, we can admit that Loui Eriksson and sheltered minutes also made him the beast that he was late in the 2014 season. Playing 3rd line minutes when you’re behind 2 first lines and alongside a hell of a 2 way player will boost anyone’s minutes, and Soderberg wasn’t nearly as good without Eriksson of when facing 1st line minutes this season when Krejci was out. This was the ultimate sell high case, and Bill Belichick would have known to trade a guy before you lose all of his value in a few months.
And what makes the decision more obvious is the Johnny Boychuk trade. Ignoring sunk costs is always a good mindset, but trading Boychuk on the eve of the draft instead of trying to send Chris Kelly anywhere for anything signaled that Chiarelli was willing to sacrifice a guy who was only gonna be here fo ra year, a year when the Bruins wouldn’t have been at their best from the start, as shown by the losses of Iginla and Boychuk. If you’re already in that mindset, trade the guy who’s only there for another 20 games for a 1st rounder and get a lot more value going forward.
Hindsight is 20/20, but in this case it’s fair to use it and look back on a mistake Peter Chiarelli should have made that he didn’t. He probably didn’t even consider it because he was trying to save his job, and no good moves in sports come from that kind of mindset.