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Adios, 2017: The top five Bruins storylines of the past year

2017 was a weird year. Let’s recap it!

NHL: Boston Bruins at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

That’s right, it’s time for one of these classic “year end” things.

2017 was quite a year for the world in general, and the Bruins were no exception. Let’s take a look back at the five biggest storylines before we flip the calendar to 2018.

5. July 1, 2015 gets wiped off the map.

One of the more interesting happenings in 2017 had its roots two years prior.

On July 1, 2015, the Bruins made two big moves: signing free agent Matt Beleskey to a five-year deal and trading for Boston native Jimmy Hayes.

Both deals brought forwards with size to Boston, allowing the Bruins to take a stab at the physicality that was lost with the Milan Lucic trade.

2017 saw both of those moves essentially get tossed out the window, as both players saw their Bruins tenures come to an end (kind of).

Hayes was waived and bought out by the Bruins in June; Beleskey was waived and assigned to Providence in December.

While Beleskey’s time with the Bruins isn’t necessarily over, waiving him was basically a giant “THIS HASN’T WORKED OUT VERY WELL” sign.

The two moves made waves when they happened in 2015, and led to sighs of relief when the moves happened this year.

4. The Bruins return to the playoffs after a brief absence.

A two-year playoff drought isn’t exactly cause for wailing and grinding of teeth, but the lonely springs in 2015 and 2016 had Bruins fans hungry for playoff hockey.

After coming up just short in 2015 and 2016, 2017 saw the Bruins finish strong enough to make it to the dance.

The Bruins headed into their first-round series against Ottawa banged up and not expected to make much noise, but it didn’t matter: it was just good to have the playoffs back in town.

That series ended up being a pretty even one, with the Bruins falling in six games. The series produced plenty of memorable moments, including Sean Kuraly’s overtime winner and the introduction of a future stud on defense.

Speaking of...

3. Charlie McAvoy emerges as a force on the blue line.

To say Charlie McAvoy came out of nowhere in 2017 wouldn’t be that accurate.

Bruins fans had been excited about the kid since he was drafted in the first round in 2016, and seeing as he was playing on Comm Ave in Boston, many fans had gotten a chance to see him skate.

However, rumors started swirling in the spring that McAvoy was going to make the jump to the pros once his NCAA duties ended.

When it became clear that he’d be ready to make his debut in the playoffs, some fans were skeptical that it was the best way to get a kid’s NHL feet wet.

McAvoy got his feet wet, and then dove right into the pool. The kid looked like a natural in the playoffs, and has only gotten better since.

If the year following his draft was the Pasta Era, we’re currently in the middle of the MCAvoy Era. Exciting times.

2. David Pastrnak gets signed to a reasonable, long-term deal.

David Pastrnak’s contract situation was a topic of conversation from beginning of 2017, as the kid was putting up big numbers in a contract year.

The #taeks only gained steam as the year progressed, and came to a head in the summer as the days ticked toward September with no deal done.

Rumors of offer sheets were rampant, trade suggestions were floated and then FINALLY a deal was done.

Pastrnak signed his deal on September 14, agreeing to terms on a six-year, $40 million contract.

The deal kept the Bruins’ best offensive talent in black and gold long-term, and did it at a team-friendly cap hit of just under $7 million.

So much for that offer sheet, eh?

1. The Claude Julien Era comes to an end.

Ah, Claude.

So much has happened since February that it’s easy to forget that the Bruins’ let go of the then-longest-tenured coach in the NHL this calendar year.

It was something that many fans anticipated, with some cheering it and some deriding it as a mistake.

Claude Julien’s time in Boston lasted for parts of ten seasons and included a Stanley Cup win in 2011 and seven playoff appearances.

He steered the team through the highest of highs (the 2011 win) and the lowest of lows (the 2010 debacle).

While Julien had his detractors and his legitimate faults, you can’t argue with the numbers. His record as coach was 393-223-88 in the regular season and 57-40 in the playoffs. He won a Jack Adams and helped return the Bruins to respectability.

His firing in February was the biggest Bruins-related story of the year, and while the Julien Era may have come to an end, the impact he had on the franchise lives on in its continued success.

Do you agree with this list? Is something missing? Share your thoughts in the comments!