Let's rewind things back a couple of days, shall we? Back when — just a few days ahead of a pivotal trade deadline — yours truly penned a column mapping out the unenviable position that Don Sweeney and the Bruins had found themselves in.
While a sell-off was not feasible, especially given a cap-crunched market that ultimately only facilitated an eight-year low of 17 total deals, Boston found itself stuck between two divergent paths — either sacrifice more precious draft capital and young talent in order to give this veteran core another kick at the can, or opt to not add to a roster hampered with a slew of injuries in net and across the blue line.
Whichever course Sweeney and the Bruins opted to chart, it was going to attract a fair share of detractors — with dissenting opinions ranging from consternation over the futility of wasting the future of the franchise for this banged-up squad, to just solemn resignation that perhaps the title window for the Bergeron era had officially slammed shut.
So naturally, Sweeney made other plans.
Or, as Jay-Z so eloquently stated years back: "I drove by the fork in the road and went straight."
Because now, in the span of 24 hours, the Bruins are a much better team than the one that has struggled to regularly string together wins and challenge both the Capitals and Islanders as the top dogs in the East.
Through two trades with the Sabres and Senators, the Bruins have managed to:
•Bring aboard their top-six solution in Taylor Hall — who, unless he is somehow the most unlucky player to ever lace up their skates, seems destined to snap out of his 2.3% shooting percentage and start potting more than just the two tallies he racked up with the Sabres over four months. And, even if Hall isn't lighting the lamp with regularity, his transition play and high-danger passing should spark the likes of David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk or Craig Smith in the middle-six grouping.
•Shore up that bottom-six with a potential fourth-line stalwart in Curtis Lazar — giving Boston a versatile forward with term ($800,000 AAV through 2022) and scoring punch (five goals, nine points) that can give Boston more options on Bruce Cassidy's trusted checking line.
•Add another transition ace and even-strength playmaker on the blue line in Mike Reilly — giving Cassidy the freedom to keep the tandem of Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk intact while keeping Brandon Carlo with another puck-moving regular on Boston's D corps.
And all for the steep cost of ... a player scratched in five straight games in Anders Bjork, a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick.
In other words, Boston acquired a top-six regular due for a regression to the mean with his scoring outage, a second/third-pairing D and a bottom-six regular all for less than what Boston relinquished to bring aboard Lee Stempniak and John Michael-Liles during that futile 2015-16 campaign.
Not too shabby.
While previous deadline splashes (Rick Nash, Ondrej Kase) have required Boston to relinquish first-round selections, Sweeney was able to address multiple areas of need without