After last season's dramatic Game 7 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers, the Boston Bruins faced some uphill challenges in rebuilding their roster. Franchise icon and captain Patrice Bergeron retired, while 16-year Bruin center David Krejci also entered retirement. Up against the salary cap, general manager Don Sweeney and president Cam Neely had their hands full.
Through the quarter-century mark this season. Bruins are tied for the second-most points in the NHL (having played three less games than the league-leading Vegas Golden Knights) while they're on their charge to capture a second-consecutive Presidents' Trophy. Although, given how last season ended and the relative curse of the trophy, they might be better served to drop a few points every now and then.
Despite the similarities between last season's start and this season's, the Bruins are doing it with a largely different cast of characters. The team had significant turnover in the offseason. Out of the 37 players that saw ice time last season, only 18 remain with the organization. The personnel changes included retirement, trades and players lost in free agency.
Here are a few players that general manager Don Sweeney and president Cam Neely made the right call on to let walk, as they struggle with their new clubs.
3. Garnet Hathaway, Philadelphia Flyers
Garnet Hathaway's time in Boston was short-lived, as he was acquired from the Washington Capitals just ahead of last year's trade deadline. Hathaway and Dmitry Orlov (the other player acquired by the Bruins from Washington) were expected to be part of a deep playoff run, but those hopes obviously came to a heartbreaking end with Boston crashing out of the first round in seven games to the Florida Panthers.
Hathaway played 25 regular season games for the Bruins after his trade from Washington, scoring four goals and two assists. In 27 games this season in Philadelphia, he has scored two goals and one assist with a plus/minus of minus six.
The 32-year-old forward signed a two-year, $4.75 million deal with the Flyers in July, as part of Philadelphia's efforts to add some physicality under head coach John Tortorella. The signing of Hathaway has brought some edge that Tortorella historically craves, as Hathaway already has 44 penalty minutes, tied for the 10th-most in the NHL.
Back in Boston, the emergence of young forwards in Boston, primarily Matthew Poitras and John Beecher, has mitigated the loss of Hathaway. Poitras and Beecher are also on entry level contracts, which is immensely beneficial for the cap-strapped Bruins.
Hathaway was essentially a rental in Boston, but good on Sweeney and Neely for not extending themselves to re-sign the forward.