The Toronto Maple Leafs claimed forward Seth Griffith off waivers on Thursday afternoon after the 23 year old was sent down in Boston’s final pre-season roster cuts. It’s unfortunate to see Griffith’s career in the black and gold end this way- for all the skill and promise he showed at the AHL level (158 points in 165 games for Providence), he only ever earned 34 games in the NHL. It appears Griffith has been passed by several other forward prospects on the Bruins’ radar over the last year. Danton Heinen, Austin Czarnik, and Frank Vatrano have all been brought in to Boston recently and are in the NHL to begin the season (though Czarnik and Vatrano are currently on the IR).
In a way, this reflects Boston’s recent trend of poor asset management. General manager Don Sweeney could have kept Griffith on the opening night roster and give him a few games before sending him through waivers- Heinen, for example, does not need to pass through waivers before being sent down. If Griffith finds success in Toronto, this will look like another bad personnel decision for the Bruins, who are no stranger to them in the past few years. At the same time, it’s hard to fault Sweeney for putting Griffith through waivers. It certainly was not a guarantee he would pass through unclaimed, but it the consensus seemed to be that this year’s training camp would make it or break it for Griffith’s career with the Bruins. Unfortunately, he did not impress and other players with similar upside (Czarnik) or greater (Heinen) won roster spots outright.
Now that the dust has settled on roster cuts, defensemen Rob O’Gara and Brandon Carlo have joined Czarnik, Heinen, and Noel Acciari as rookies on opening night’s roster. Only time will tell if O’Gara and Carlo will stick around- currently, they have little to worry about because Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller are dealing with injuries. Sweeney indicated today that Miller will be out long term, while McQuaid is likely dealing with a short term injury. It will be a different look if the Bruins dress both rookies on opening night- both impressed during camp and offer more mobility than either McQuaid or Kevan Miller do.
Austin Czarnik is still out after receiving a nasty hit to the head from Philadelphia’s Radko Gudas in the team’s last pre-season game. Gudas was suspended for six games for the hit. Once he returns from injury, Czarnik will likely slot into the third line center spot currently occupied by Riley Nash. Once that is in place, Boston has a solid forward group going into the regular season, especially if Heinen and Czarnik continue to impress.
The Bruins’ first game of the season is Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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