In another strange twist in the early stages of Don Sweeney’s tenure as general manager, the Bruins announced Monday they had traded a 2017 third-round draft choice to the Philadelphia Flyers for center Zac Rinaldo.
It was an odd move after a weekend of odd moves at the NHL Draft, where the Bruins dealt Dougie Hamilton for a package that didn’t seem nearly enough for the budding star defenseman, retained nearly half of Milan Lucic’s salary in his trade, weren’t able to move up and pick one of the top defensemen, and appeared to overreach on two of their three first-round picks.
Rinaldo, 25, is a hard-hitting, agitating player, but he does not score goals — an area in which the Bruins could use some help. He had just one goal and five assists in 58 games with the Flyers in 2014-15. He led the team with 102 penalty minutes, and had five fights, according to hockeyfights.com.
In his 223-game career, Rinaldo has just eight goals and 16 assists — and 572 penalty minutes.
He also has a suspension history, including an eight-game ban leveled last season for charging and boarding Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang Jan. 20. In his career, he has been suspended three times, totaling 14 games, and fined twice more.
Rinaldo has an $850,000 salary cap hit and two years remaining on his contract.
Perhaps Sweeney foreshadowed this move in the press conference to announce his elevation to general manager, saying then, “We have to get back a little bit the aggressiveness that is lost in our group.”
That would seem to be where Rinaldo fits, especially with the subtraction of Lucic.
Of course, Sweeney also said at that time, “We finished with 96 points this year, we did not meet expectations, but we’re not as far away as what people may think.”
But after some of the moves this past weekend, it would seem the Bruins have slipped further from a playoff spot, not gotten closer.
Rinaldo also appears to be the type of player that hockey is moving away from, with fewer fights and fewer fighters. Rinaldo does not bring skill to the table, the area where the Bruins are lacking and where they had seemed focused on improving.
The Bruins declined to re-sign two of their fourth-line players, letting Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell go as unrestricted free agents. It was thought that the team would try to revamp that fourth line using some of the young players, such as Justin Florek or Brian Ferlin. But this move would indicate that the Bruins are simply trying to rebuild their fourth line in a similar mold.