Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: Boston Bruins General manager Don Sweeney speaks to the media during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

At this rate, the Bruins may have to reserve their own floor at the hotel closest to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for this year’s NHL Awards.

In an awards show that’s already littered with Bruins among the finalists for some of the game’s top individual prizes, Don Sweeney joined the party Wednesday, with Sweeney named a finalist for the 2023 NHL General Manager of the Year Award.

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  • Sweeney’s nomination, which came with a top-three finish from a voting pool of fellow general managers at the end of the regular season, comes after what was a historic regular season from the Bruins, with the B’s setting both the NHL single-season wins and points record.

    And with Sweeney’s fingerprints all over the B’s success.

    Sweeney’s work started with the hiring of head coach Jim Montgomery following the polarizing firing of Bruce Cassidy. The change could’ve blown up in Sweeney’s face given Cassidy’s record during his time behind the Boston bench, but the Bruins responded to their new coach out of the gate, and a few of Montgomery’s tweaks and belief in players led to career years for a few players who appeared to stagnate under Cassidy.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 02: (L-R) General Manager Don Sweeney, Brad Marchand #63, Patrice Bergeron #37 and head Coach Jim Montgomery of the Boston Bruins pose for a photo before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 02, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 02: (L-R) General Manager Don Sweeney, Brad Marchand #63, Patrice Bergeron #37 and head Coach Jim Montgomery of the Boston Bruins pose for a photo before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 02, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

  • Roster-wise, Sweeney flipped versatile middle-six forward Erik Haula to New Jersey for forward Pavel Zacha.

    The move worked out better than anybody could have hoped, really, as Zacha was a legitimate fit with David Pastrnak and David Krejci on the Black and Gold’s second line, and finished the year with career-highs in goals (21), assists (36), and points (57). Zacha outright smashed his previous career-best in points, too, with a 21-point increase from his previous career-high of 36, established in his final season in New Jersey.

    Sweeney made sure that Zacha was not a one-and-done with the Bruins, and signed the Czech forward to a four-year, $19 million extension this past January.

  • Jan 28, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha (18) skates with the puck during the first period against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Mowry/USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 28, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha (18) skates with the puck during the first period against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. (Jason Mowry/USA TODAY Sports)

  • In addition to Zacha, Sweeney was able to pull off deals to bring Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci back on one-year deals with lower cap hits (but future pain) to keep the Bruins’ window open for at least one more year.

    Those signings, along with some crafty cap maneuvering throughout the regular season, allowed the Bruins to swing for the fences (and the moon) with an all-in deadline that saw the Bruins bring Dmitry Orlov, Garnet Hathaway, and Tyler Bertuzzi to the Bruins in two separate trades and for a combined two first-round picks, a second-round pick, third-round pick, and fourth-round pick.

    Orlov was a natural fit on the Bruins’ backend, and finished with four goals and 17 points in 23 regular season games with the B’s, and added eight assists in seven games in the playoffs.

    Bertuzzi, meanwhile, simply couldn’t be stopped once he got going, with 16 points in 21 regular season games, and then a team-leading five goals and 10 points in seven playoff contests.

  • MONTREAL, CANADA - APRIL 13: Dmitry Orlov #81 of the Boston Bruins (C) celebrates his goal with teammates Tyler Bertuzzi #59 (L) and Charlie McAvoy #73 (R) during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Bell on April 13, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    MONTREAL, CANADA – APRIL 13: Dmitry Orlov #81 of the Boston Bruins celebrates his goal with teammates Tyler Bertuzzi #59  and Charlie McAvoy #73 against the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Bell on April 13, 2023. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

  • But perhaps the most important thing Sweeney accomplished this year was the signing of all-world scorer David Pastrnak to a contract extension that kept him from hitting the open market this summer.

    Signed to the richest contract in team history, with his $11.25 million cap hit hitting the Boston books next season, the 26-year-old Pastrnak led the Bruins in goals (61), assists (52) and points (113) during the 2022-23 season, and was one of just two players in the NHL to score more than 60 goals this season. Pastrnak also became just the second Bruin to score at least 60 goals in a season, joining a club that previously featured only Phil Esposito.

  • Apr 9, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 9, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Sweeney, who won the GM of the Year Award back in 2019, will compete for the GM of the Year Award against Florida’s Bill Zito and the Stars’ Jim Nill.

    Zito’s Panthers, who are just one win away from the 2023 Stanley Cup Final as of Wednesday morning, made their big splash last summer when they traded Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar for Matthew Tkachuk. It was a move that came with some questions off the jump, but Tkachuk has been everything the Panthers needed and more, as he’s been the backbone of a Florida club that’s shocking the hockey world.

    Nill, meanwhile, has built a strong new foundation in Dallas, headlined by 2017 draft picks defenseman Miro Heiskanen, winger Jason Robertson, and goaltender Jake Oettinger. Nill also had himself a strong trade deadline, with forwards Evgeni Dadonov and Max Domi brought to town via trades with Montreal and Chicago.

  • Jan 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) talks with general manager Don Sweeney before a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2023 Winter Classic ice hockey game at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) talks with general manager Don Sweeney before a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. (Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Sweeney’s nomination means that the Bruins will have a rep in the top three of the GM of the Year Award, the Selke Trophy (Patrice Bergeron), the Vezina Trophy (Linus Ullmark), the Hart Trophy (Pastrnak), the Lindsay Award (Pastrnak), and the Jack Adams (Jim Montgomery).

    Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman already won the William M. Jennings Trophy as the league’s top goaltending tandem in 2022-23, too, as they allowed the fewest goals in the league in the regular season.

    The NHL Awards will be held on June 26.

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