Civian: Maybe Bruins' quiet free agency is the ultimate vote of confidence

Sara Civian
July 02, 2018 - 1:48 pm

Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports

At some point last season, the Bruins became self aware.

None of us know exactly when that happened -- maybe they don’t even know when exactly it clicked -- but the awareness culminated in general manager Don Sweeney trading for Rick Nash at the deadline.

The phrase “going all in” was tossed around, and usually that phrase ends in a huge risk or two that doesn't always pay off.

The Bruins are right to be all in, with a peaking core and a youth movement gaining experience. Interest in both Ilya Kovalchuk and John Tavares showed they are definitely still about that life. That they didn’t get a “thanks, but no thanks” from Tavares like Montreal did is another good sign.

Enough about good signs, did the Bruins walk away from the first day of free agency with good signings?

Well, yes, but they were the kind that remind you free agency isn’t just one day. For the Bruins’ sake, when you look at what division rivals Toronto and Tampa Bay hope this is one long free agency.  

At first glance, at least.

The biggest move Sweeney made was signing former Devils defenseman John Moore to a five-year, $13.75 million contract. As long as the term is, that’s not enough money to warrant real outrage for a decent defenseman -- especially when the Bruins have gone through so many of them during the playoffs. We all know how pricey quality defensemen are at the deadline, and there’s also the notion that the Bruins are gearing up to trade one of their eight current defensemen.

Other than that, the Bruins lost Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, and Austin Czarnik. All of that was expected -- Nash and Schaller have better opportunities to climb up the depth chart elsewhere. Czarnik has seemed like a goner since he put up 69 points in the AHL and barely got a chance to crack the Bruins’ lineup. Apparently 24 teams showed interest, and that’s hardly shocking. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

The Bruins picked up Joakim Nordstrom ($1 million AAV) and Walpole, Mass. native Chris Wagner ($1.25 million AAV). Nordstrom, a career fourth-liner, and Wagner, another cheap veteran, seem pretty much content to play bottom-six roles.

That doesn’t necessarily make the Bruins a “better team,” but they aren't much worse. We know by now their scoring is top-six heavy, and changing in one fourth liner for another hasn’t had much of an impact.

Mostly, all the insurance gives the Bruins’ bursting-at-the-seams youth movement some room to breathe.

With the Tavares and Kovalchuk drama, did we forget about Ryan Donato?

Did we forget Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Karson Kuhlman, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, and a handful of others who could break out?

Did we forget all we wrote about how sometimes the best thing to do is nothing? How content we were when Sweeney refused to trade DeBrusk?

As Brandon Carlo buzzed about development camp, he said hello to us in a way that sounded more like “Remember me? I’m back.”

Maybe -- for Sweeney -- this is going all in.

Stocking up on defensive depth and players who don’t mind a supporting role is boring. But maybe he remembers his ghosts of contracts past -- David Backes and Matt Beleskey. And maybe this is the ultimate vote of confidence in what he already has.

If not, Wayne Simmonds would look great in black and gold.