Welcome to NHL free agency, where the Bruins are an unmitigated mess

There a quite a few question marks surrounding the B's this offseason
There a quite a few question marks surrounding the B's this offseason –AP Photo/Elise Amendola

COMMENTARY

From (Stanley Cup champion) Phil Kessel to Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton to Joe Morrow, Jimmy Hayes, and Zachary Senyshyn.

Only the Boston Bruins could turn such fortune into a pile of distorted rubble.

NHL free agency is upon us, which means somebody (Hello, Vancouver!) will be foolishly overpaying for former Bruins forward Loui Eriksson, officially putting the clamp on the incompetent ending to the franchise’s most debilitating decision since Dave Lewis was a thing.

The Bruins aren’t finished paying for the dazed decisions of the past four years, now, finally due to wallow in the ridiculous decision to stand pat with impending free agent Eriksson at the trading deadline back in February. Even with the Bruins beginning their annual tumble into a floundering spiral, general manager Don Sweeney held on tight to the 30-year-old, for some reason expressing hope that the team would come to a long-term deal with the forward prior to his open market on July 1.

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It was never going to happen. It never should have happened.

The Bruins have much deeper issues to fry than losing the 30-goal scorer, who coincidentally had his most productive season since his 71-point season with the Dallas Stars in 2011-12 with free agency impending. Still, the fact that he departs as the final, worthy return of what is now the three-year-old Sequin solecism, highlights just how inept the Bruins have become.

So, the Bruins replaced him with St. Louis Blues center David Backes, whom they signed to a $36 million deal over six years. He had 45 points last year for his former team.

Neat.

The Boston Bruins can officially be declared a disaster area.

If it’s difficult to comprehend that it was only a half-decade ago that this team was a Stanley Cup champion, then it’s even harder to wrap your comprehension around the fact that they were within a Tuukka Rask gasp away from another Game 7 final only three years ago. What has happened since then in the dismantling of this team has taken on parts of necessity, but more so, simple-mindedness and the utter fallacy on the people in charge.

“It’s called Bruins.”

That ridiculous tagline, so abused into a lazy cliche a decade past, is perhaps, once again, apropos during a period in which the team hasn’t truly shown any inkling of an assessment, plan, or a general clue. Maybe elsewhere that would be an indication of the fluctuation of the NHL’s popularity based on winning and losing, but in Boston, there are recognizable signals where this is headed, particularly based on the recent past of decisions that have either been head-scratching (Reilly Smith for Hayes?) or implosive in the face of what was generally regarded as a shrewd move (Martin Jones for Milan Lucic).

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The buyout of Dennis Seidenberg’s contract wasn’t unexpected, particularly with the announcement that the team had inked fellow defenseman Torey Krug to a four-year deal worth $5.25 million per. That’s high for a player of Krug’s caliber, though there is an open window for his contribution, never mind the fact the Bruins had been backed into a corner with negotiations.

If not Krug, then whom?

Exactly.

In the wake of surrendering on Hamilton (he didn’t want to be here, you know, something the Bruins obviously couldn’t talk him out of), Krug is the last of the team’s noted, young defensemen. Unless, that is, you count Kevan Miller, an overrated player that the Bruins threw cash at desperately in order to retain. Sweeney would agree.

To be fair, Miller, the UVM product who was abused on more than a handful occasions during the 2015-16 season, got more grief than he deserved during the 2015-16 campaign. A little. But at four years, $10 million? He’s a dart board.

That’s how desperate the Bruins are for defensemen. It’s also an indication of how thirsty the market is for them.

The Bruins are in a nifty position as far as the money is concerned, $18.5 million under the NHL salary cap. But the free agent market is also on par with the Coy and Vance to the Luke and Bo of years past. This isn’t exactly like the Celtics clearing the roster in the delusional hopes that Kevin Durant might be available. This is more like waiting in line for Springsteen tickets and recognizing you could better afford the Doobie Brothers being sold next door.

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Like, hey, cool. But they were easier to get. Cheaper, too.

Rad. Play “Black Water.”

Offensive force Steven Stamkos, who re-upped with the Tampa Bay Lightning, wasn’t coming to Boston anyway, so, it’s unrealistic to hold anything of that caliber against Sweeney and company. And as far of a step behind as these guys have been, it’s difficult to chastise them for their offer sheet to Jacob Trouba, considering it would cost a quartet of first-round draft picks. Are they either that desperate, or that confident that the group they have — in addition to defensive help — is the key to going deep into May and June?

That’s because it’s still time to blame former general manager Peter Chiarelli for the Brewster’s Millions period of Bruins history, including his decision to give Seidenberg a four-year, $16 million deal, even though he was coming off a knee injury while Johnny Boychuk was shipped off to Long Island for excuses never truly fulfilled.

Oh, Sweeney is still culpable for what happens this summer. But this is still Chiarelli’s boner he’s dealing with. It’s truly saying something about a GM’s competence or patience when he’s willing to deal both the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in a six-year-old draft only three years apart.

Good luck, Edmonton. Have fun, New Jersey.

Goodbye, Loui.

Hey, the Senyshyn-Morrow era is going to be awesome.

Bruins’ top picks of 2016

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