The Sun rose on another day in Boston, Massachusetts and once again Boston Bruins fans are wondering what the hell Pete Chiarelli is thinking. After sending fan favorites Ryan Spooner and Niklas Svedberg to Providence, it seemed almost certain (if you were a fan) that the final spot on the 2013-2014 Bruins roster would go to Nick Johnson.
The Svedberg and Spooner decisions were almost surely made on the basis of business. For Svedberg, he costs much more than Chad Johnson at a time when things are already spilling over. And, Spooner was probably shipped simply on the basis that waiver scenarios do not limit him, unlike Caron and Johnson. For the Bruins, a team with such incredible depth, sending players like Svedberg and Spooner to Providence is nothing more than sticking them on extra alternate spots. The key is that these guys will still be getting a lot of ice-time, which is ultimately good for them and the club.
Now, the real head-scratcher is: why Caron over Johnson? From the salary and contracts perspective, these guys are more or less, identical. Consequently, Bruins fans are left trying to figure out the fact that Caron trumped Johnson on the basis of skill.
Truth is, Bruins fans may look at Caron as someone that has had several years to prove himself as a Bruin. He is, however, still only 22 with room to grow. On the other hand, where Johnson had an amazing preseason for the Bruins, he is a 27-year-old NHL journeyman with stints in Pittsburg, Minnesota, and Phoenix. In this time, he has yet to establish himself with a breakout season. The Bruins more than likely elected to go with youth and groomability over an uncharacteristically productive preseason.
On the flip side, it is very possible that the Bruins, in fact, liked Johnson's click with the big club and they are counting on the rest of the league passing on him because of his past. The result being that both Johnson and Spooner keep skating and the Bruins keep all three. The benefit being that the Bruins have two solid forwards ready to go at injury time, similar to the defense situation at the end of last season.
With respect to Pete Chiarelli's decision making, Bruins fans have nothing to fear. In a similar fashion to last April, when the Bruins appeared to be limping to the end of the season, and many were vocally upset with Claude Julien, the fans are needing to endure tremendous uncertainty with a child-like faith. Ultimately, the fan's faith was rewarded last postseason, and will be rewarded again.
Whether it is through some kind of chaotic genius or simply right place, right time happenstance, the Julien-Chiarelli partnership is a winner in Boston. After inheriting the team during what is arguable the worst decade in franchise history, the duo transformed the team (virtually overnight) into the most fruitful group since the Neely-Bourque Bruins of the 80s and 90s.
In the end, the decision to go with Caron over Johnson (or Spooner) will probably prove to be inconsequential in the grand scheme. And, if you are a fan that thinks the Bruins are less potent than they were in June, you are in for one of the best treats of your life.