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Perspective on the Boston Model


OneSeventeen

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With the Canucks now losing 8 games in a row, I’m hoping this post will give some perspective.

 

Back around 2012/13 when it was clear that the Canucks needed to rebuild, a lot of people were talking about emulating the “Boston Model.” A lot of that talk was centred around their style of play, tough, gritty, more often than not nasty and in your face, with a lot of skill mixed in. I think the league is largely moved away from this style though. For the sake of player safety, I hope it continues to do so, but that’s a separate conversation.

 

Even though the Bruins have only won 1 cup in the last 10 years, they have almost consistently been competitive for a playoff spot. They missed the playoffs in back to back years in 2014/15 and 2015/16. They’ve been able to remain competitive despite having only 2 lottery picks in the last 20 years in Joe Thorton back in 1997 and Tyler Seguin in 2010.

 

The Bruins management hasn’t been flawless. Yes, they have had major draft misses. The biggest example right now is passing on Matthew Barzal with their three straight picks in 2015. A pretty big mistake since they don’t have a clear #1 centre prospect. But they have time to see if either of Trent Frederic, Jack Studnicka or Jakob Fosbacka-Karlsson can develop into one, or a future draft pick. They went through 3 years of bad drafting from 2007 to 2009. Zach Hamil in 2007 instead of Logan Couture, Brandon Sutter, Ryan McDonagh etc. Outside of Dougie Hamilton, their 2011, 2012 and 2013 drafts haven’t produced any significant NHL talent.

 

But I would argue that they’ve been able to weather these blunders and remained a competitive presence in the league for 3 reasons:

#1: they have been able to maintain a stable and skilled veteran core

 

#2: good drafting past the first round in multiple drafts

 

Boston was able to pull David Pastrnak and Ryan Donato in 2014. Tyler Seguin and Ryan Spooner in 2010. Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand in 2006. David Krejci was a second round pick in 2004. Patrice Bergeron was a second round pick in 2003.

 

#3: as a result of the first and second, they have been able to make very timely trades to replenish their prospect pool, give their prospects time to develop and have the assets to acquire talent at the trade deadline in an effort to make a deep playoff run. Granted that last point hasn’t paid off significantly.

 

Also worth mentioning, they scored big when they landed Carl Soderberg for free and if I’m remembering correctly they went to the conference final with him on the team.

 

Veterans

Zdeno Chara – 13th year

Patrice Bergeron - 15th year

David Krejci – 12th year

Brad Marchand – 10th year

Tuukka Rask – 11th year

Torey Krug – 6th year

 

This depth has arguably allowed Boston to constantly be in “retooling” mode instead of rebuilding. The Canucks haven’t had this type of depth since 2012 with Henrik, Daniel, Luongo Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Sami Salo, Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis.

 

Young Players

Jake DeBrusk – 14th overall – 2nd year

Charlie McAvoy – 14th overall – 2nd year

David Pastrnak – 25th overall – 5th year

Brandon Carlo – 37th overall – 3rd year

 

Trades

Dougie Hamilton for 3 picks (one first and two seconds in 2015)

Milan Lucic for Martin Jones, Colin Miller and 1 pick (2015 first)

Martin Jones for Sean Kuraly and 1 pick (2016 first)

Johnny Boychuck for 2 picks (2015 second and 2016 second)

Dennis Seidenberg for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and 1 pick (2010 second)

 

Finally on Boston, I do think they will be entering a rebuilding stage soon, but they have the veteran and prospect depth to rebuild like the New York Rangers. If Boston decides to part ways with some players in their veteran core, they should be able to garner a significant return.

 

As a result of Gillis’ just absolute flaming garbage drafting and Linden/Benning’s moves to “retool” the Canucks had no significant prospects to develop at the NHL or AHL level and as a result needed to give away picks to acquire young players. I don’t mean to belabour points that have been discussed ad nauseum on this forum or throw shade at management. I’m just stating the following for the sake of my overall point.

 

I believe the Canucks overpaid for these players by with second round picks and lost out on the opportunity to draft some talented players:

 

Erik Gudbranson could have been Jordan Kyrou, Alex DeBrincat or Carter Hart

Ryan Sutter could have been Dillon Dube or Taylor Raddysh

Linden Vey could have been Brandon Montour, Ryan Donato or Christian Dvorak

 

Granted these prospects might not turn out to be NHL players and Canucks may not have even drafted them. But the point is that this pick or prospect could have been an asset to use in a future trade or a better call up option compared to Reid Boucher and Brenden Gaunce. This point is directly tied to how vital it was and still is for the Canucks acquire picks or prospects from veterans. Just to clarify, I personally feel like trading for Gudbranson and Sutter was necessary for character and leadership reasons.

 

In recent NHL history, I think the Canucks were in a fairly unique but terrible position. In 2014 they had 1 NHL quality prospect in Bo Horvat. They have finished at the bottom of the league 4 times in 5 years and have yet to win a lottery pick. Three significant potential core players in Jake Virtanen, Thatcher Demko and Olli Joulevi are still developing.

 

Again the 2011 Canucks Henrik, Daniel, Luongo, Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Sami Salo, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, as well as Manny Malhotra, and Christian Erhoff. That’s at least 10 core players in the prime of their careers. Bo Horvat is just reaching his prime, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser are in their first and second year.

 

Calling for Travis Green to be fired right now is ridiculous when you look at the Canucks roster. The Canucks don’t have a coaching problem, they have legacy of failed management problem that their clawing their way out of. The Canucks lost 2 potential future assets in Henrik and Daniel Sedin (rightfully so since I couldn’t imagine them putting on any other jersey). Chris Tanev, Alex Edler and Brandon Sutter could garner decent returns but the Canucks still likely need their services in the next few seasons.

 

Just to sum up, the Canucks have a lack veterans with offensive talent. As a result they’ve had to rely on young players like Horvat, Pettersson, Virtanen, Gaudette and Goldobin who are still developing. The set of players meant to support them like Dahlen, Joulevi, Hughes, Lind, Rathbone etc. are not ready for the NHL.

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Dunno if you are watching any Boston games, but they are being carried by Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak. All our vets got old. Not much we can do about father time. Our 2011 team I am pretty sure was older than their 2011 team, so it's been easier for them to rely on their vets. Not to mention not many teams are interested in gifting the Canucks 2 top 3 (Seguin and Hamilton) picks like Toronto did for Kessel. Hard to do the Boston model when they were fed two top 5 picks while also competing in the playoffs. 

 

Also, who is Ryan Sutter?

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When we played the Bruins in the finals we already an aging team. Our only good young player was Tanev. They were a team of veterans and young players. So they didn't have to replace their entire team as we've had to. That's the problem with having an eight year stretch of poor drafting. No stream of young players making aging veterans expendable as trade pieces for even more futures.

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The obsession over the Boston model is what ruined the franchise. The "Vancouver" model of speed and skill was just fine. The Canucks had a run of unlucky injuries that can't be explained by "toughness". Losing Hamhuis, a healthy Malhotra, and Samuelsson were huge blows to the team. If even two of those three guys suited up, the Canucks win in 2011. 

 

It's a little sad that it took the Canucks several years to realize once again, that yes, speed and skill are what makes winners. Better late than never though.

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8 minutes ago, Darkstar said:

The obsession over the Boston model is what ruined the franchise. The "Vancouver" model of speed and skill was just fine. The Canucks had a run of unlucky injuries that can't be explained by "toughness". Losing Hamhuis, a healthy Malhotra, and Samuelsson were huge blows to the team. If even two of those three guys suited up, the Canucks win in 2011. 

 

And don't forget Rome. Our #7 dman getting suspended for 4 games for a borderline hit. We could have won in 2011 if we had Rome, let alone 2 of those guys. That's how badly favored the series was for us, only to be evened out by the NHL through their mandate over how refereeing should be done in the playoffs.

 

I agree that Bruins model led to wasting of time. We should have just continued with our philosophy of winning with speed and skill. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Hindustan Smyl said:

What I find the most bewildering was how even after 2015, 29 other teams were trying to figure out and emulate the Chicago and LA models, while Vancouver management, fans, and media had the proverbial flashlight up Boston’s bum trying to figure out what they had for breakfast.

It must be losers syndrome.  We did the same thing after we lost to the NYR, by signing Messier and bringing Keenan to “show us the way”.   

 

Glad teams got got off the LA/CHI kick (possession is King!!, thank you PIT for your back to back cups and flipping the finger to that jargon, like the extra “5%” is why LA won (don’t these people watch hockey or are they too busy with their spreadsheets counting up shots and who was on the ice for and against etc, one word Quick) and are just focusing on drafting the fastest skilled guys they can find (until too many spend their careers in the infirmary or WSH or WNP repeats/wins and size matters again).  Boston won their cup because of Thomas if that helps with the “Boston Model”, draft one giant that will win some Norris trophies and find one goalie that for four years will win Vezinas and Conn Smythes for you, the rest will fall in place. 

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I don't know how anyone can rule any teams roster to have a "Winning Model". There has been no team lately which I would call a "Dynasty". So how can we call any recent team that wins a Stanley Cup a winning model to follow? 

Sometimes its just luck or bad luck from the opposition or a combination of both, such as Vegas last year, that wins you a Cup. I know they didn't win it all.

You try to get the best goalie possible, preferably a hot goalie at the right time, the best defensive core, who can play offensively and defensively and then you try to get forwards who can fulfill different roles. Throw in a lot of character and determination and see how far this takes you.

I believe there are way too many variables for a team to throw away years of competition to "hope" that a window opens up down the road where they have a "better" chance at winning a cup. Do your due diligence and always try to improve your roster every year and just see how far that version of your team will take you. Rinse and repeat for the next year.

So I guess the winning model I would like to see us follow is: Draft the best players every year, trade for the best player that's needed every year, acquire needed UFA's/FA's every year and sign established players to suitable contracts every year.

I guess its also important to put all of this together and have a good GM, Coach and Ownership willing to spend to the Cap. Who cares what Boston or any other team is doing we should just be worried about what OUR team is doing IMHO.

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what about the Chicago model? or the Detroit model?

 

I'm not sure what to do with comparisons like this. It takes years to rebuild a team, and every teams starting point is different. You can't flip from one model to another year to year. 

 

We are getting faster, more skilled, with a sprinkling of elite talent in EP and hopefully Hughes coming. Two more years of development, maybe 1 or 2 key free agents and this team will have some teeth. 

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10 hours ago, OneSeventeen said:

The biggest example right now is passing on Matthew Barzal with their three straight picks in 2015. 

#13 Barzal 

#14 Chabot

#15 Boeser

(Honorable mention to Conner)

Would have been the most epic draft ever for Boston.

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6 hours ago, Hindustan Smyl said:

What I find the most bewildering was how even after 2015, 29 other teams were trying to figure out and emulate the Chicago and LA models, while Vancouver management, fans, and media had the proverbial flashlight up Boston’s bum trying to figure out what they had for breakfast.

I think the Boston model comes up for two reasons, one is subliminal attempt to hint that Benning acting as an assistant GM was an architect of the current Boston team and hence here, the second because they beat the Nucks, simple as that.

 

As far as cup champs, the larger team has won all but 2 in the last 20 years so that is the model, large nasty teams. Selling small teams is for the regular season and maybe a round or two.  Very few really good large players but many skilled pygmies out there.

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11 hours ago, TheGuardian_ said:

I think the Boston model comes up for two reasons, one is subliminal attempt to hint that Benning acting as an assistant GM was an architect of the current Boston team and hence here, the second because they beat the Nucks, simple as that.

 

As far as cup champs, the larger team has won all but 2 in the last 20 years so that is the model, large nasty teams. Selling small teams is for the regular season and maybe a round or two.  Very few really good large players but many skilled pygmies out there.

 

Dont get me wrong. I get it.

 

it just surprises me that Vancouverites would rather make reference to the “Boston model” rather than the “LA model” when citing successful cup winning teams that were bigger and more physical. The Kings won two cups, while a slightly injured Bruins teams defeated a severely injured Canucks team in 7 games to win one cup.

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I don't really see how the 'Boston model' relates to the Canuck part of this op.

 

And the part about 'overpayng' by 2nds in the Gud and Brandon Sutter deals also doesn't add up.

The Sutter deal did not 'give away' a 2nd - it traded back from late 2nd to high 3rd - which resulted in the Brisebois pick.

The Gud deal - like the Sutter deal - was a result of a rebuild move - dealing Kesler for the principal in the Sutter deal, the pick that became the principal in the Gud deal, and the player that buffered the team in the expansion draft.   Vey was a result of the Garrison for 2nd deal - not a 'retool' move but a veteran for prospect deal.   Bieksa for a 2nd = also a 'rething' move and not a 'retool' move.

Anyhow, I think the general narrative strays a bit off course.  Benning's first draft resulted in Virtanen, Kesler/McCann/Gudbranson, Demko, Tryamkin, 5th/Forsling/Clendening/secondary piece in the Sutter deal.  Numerous significant prospects/assets.

The Kesler deal was not a 'retool' move - it was a classic 'rebuild' move = player, pick, prospect.   Garrison, Bieksa likewise.  Not really a 'retool'.  That story - and the idea that

retool moves resulted in a lack of prospects simply does not add up. 

 

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