23-24 Bruins Season Thread

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SoSH's Doug Neidermeyer
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It’s Christmas morning and the family is still asleep. So here’s a hypothetical.

DeBrusk is struggling and may need a change of scenery. Some here have said his only value would be trading for another struggling player in need of a change of scenery.

Enter Johnny Gaudreau.

After being amazing in Calgary, he’s really struggled since signing a big-ish deal in CBJ, having recently been demoted to the 4th line.

If CBJ were willing to retain - say, 50% - how would you feel about a swap of DeBrusk + for Johnny Ham and Cheese?
 

katnado

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It’s Christmas morning and the family is still asleep. So here’s a hypothetical.

DeBrusk is struggling and may need a change of scenery. Some here have said his only value would be trading for another struggling player in need of a change of scenery.

Enter Johnny Gaudreau.

After being amazing in Calgary, he’s really struggled since signing a big-ish deal in CBJ, having recently been demoted to the 4th line.

If CBJ were willing to retain - say, 50% - how would you feel about a swap of DeBrusk + for Johnny Ham and Cheese?
I'd do that trade in a cocaine heartbeat. I love DeBrusk and I really want him to succeed in Boston, but I've always wanted Johnny Hockey in a Spoked B personally. If Columbus was actually willing I'd do it. No idea if I'm on an island with that take. But sign me up.
 

cshea

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I think the + would be substantial. 50% retention is $4.875 million and he's under contract for 6 more season. As far as I can tell, dollar wise, the most multi-year retention ever done was $4 million the Predators are retaining on Ryan Johansen for this year and next. The longest retention term wise was Kessel when he got traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh. The Leafs retained for 7 years but only retained $1.2 million on an $8 million AAV. I think it'll be difficult to get anything retained, let alone the max like 50%. Aside from the money, the retention slots represent flexibility and teams only get 2 retention slots. Locking one up for 6 years is likely a non-starter unless the return is signficiant. Gaudreau also has a no-move. He's obviously familiar with Boston because he played college hockey at BC but there was also reporting that part of the reason he landed in Columbus over his closer-to-home teams like Philly and New Jersey as a free agent was because Columbus is a less intense market. No idea if that is accurate or what but he may be perfectly happy where he is even if he and the team are struggling and the bright lights of an original six market may not appeal to him. I just think add it all up and the plus side of the ledger would be way out of the Bruins price range. To me, in a trade like this DeBrusk is essentially Craig Smith from the Orlov/Hathaway trade last year. Gotta do it to balance the salary but ultimately valueless.

I also think optics wise it doesn't make sense for Columbus. They've been arguably the biggest mess in hockey. They spent the last 5-7 years watching their star players flee elsewhere. They tried to change that narrative by signing Gaudreau as the face of the franchise. They tanked last year. They hired Babcock. They fired Babcock before training camp. The front office got put on notice by owenership and may not even have the authority to make a significant trade. The interim coach is benching and healthy scratching veteran stars. At this point, Columbus kind of needs a breather and a calm stretch. I think the only way they'd even consider moving Gaudreau at this point is for a no-brainer win for them.
 

cshea

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I think my path for the Bruins is to just get through this season. If they are in OK shape at the deadline, grab the Josh Brown and Tommy Wingels depth pieces and have at it.

If I go star hunting I wait until 7/1 and throw the bag at William Nylander. Put $10.5/11 million in front of him and see what he does.
 
Dec 30, 2022
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Nylander is really tempting. Could he, would he play his off wing? Nylander, Zacha & Pastrnak would be a real handful. Still think Bergeron-light (aka Lindholm) might be a better fit. But we do need the scoring a Nylander would bring.
 

The Mort Report

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I'm with @cshea, most of us came into the season seeing this as a bridge year, without the draft capital(traded out the R1, R2, R3 and R7 for '24 draft, R2 and R4 for '25) or cap space(a bit over $59K currently) to do much improvement in season. Anything we got was gravy, and we got a hot start against lesser competition that has people excited. For the most part, the only way we can add a player is with a hockey trade, where we don't have the picks or prospects for what would be needed to upgrade that player.

I know it runs against the idea of a discussion board like this, but everyone should really accept this team as it is organizationally, wait for them to get into the playoffs then all bets are off.

Next offseason they should have just under $27 mil in cap space(which looks to include the expected ~$4 mil jump), with the only contracts on the team that really need to be worried about are UFA's Grz and DeBrusk, and obviously the big one, RFA Sway.
 

cshea

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I think Grz is an interesting one. They are usually loathe to trade defenseman away in-season. In fact, Sweeney has never dealt an NHL defenseman in-season. However, I could see a scenario where Grz is moved. He's a pending UFA and turns 30 next week. Sweeney has never signed a defenseman over 30 years old to a multi-year contract and as far as I can tell there's been no reports of contract discussions. Grz has also fallen out of favor (some injury caveats apply) in the post-season for 2 consecutive years under different coaches. They could potentially view Lohrei as a replacement. Add it all up it seems like a good chance they don't re-sign Grzl. Factor in their lack of draft/prospect capital and I could see a scenario where they flip Grz for a pick around the deadline.

They also could just decide the depth for a playoff push is more valueable to them than a mid-round pick.
 

cshea

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That's my question, too. If the report is true, I wonder if someone's dealing with an injury or other issue we don't know about.
Nobody who played last night is missing from practice today. They also don't have the salary cap space. They have $60,000 in cap space. Merkulov's cap hit is $925,000. Patrick Brown makes $800,000 so they can't just swap the two, something else would need to happen, like demoting Wotherspoon or Lohrei. I suppose that's possible if Grzelyck (who was a full participant in practice) can play.

Providence and Boston both played on the road last night and then have back-to-back's on Friday and Saturday. It'd be an odd time to decide to drop a prospect into the mix. No practice, after playing and traveling via bus, here you go for your first 2 NHL games. Not exactly ideal. They typically don't call up the prospects until they think the player is ready to stick, unless injuries force their hand.

Add it all up and I don't think it's happening, at least this weekend.
 

Ferm Sheller

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Nobody who played last night is missing from practice today. They also don't have the salary cap space. They have $60,000 in cap space. Merkulov's cap hit is $925,000. Patrick Brown makes $800,000 so they can't just swap the two, something else would need to happen, like demoting Wotherspoon or Lohrei. I suppose that's possible if Grzelyck (who was a full participant in practice) can play.

Providence and Boston both played on the road last night and then have back-to-back's on Friday and Saturday. It'd be an odd time to decide to drop a prospect into the mix. No practice, after playing and traveling via bus, here you go for your first 2 NHL games. Not exactly ideal. They typically don't call up the prospects until they think the player is ready to stick, unless injuries force their hand.

Add it all up and I don't think it's happening, at least this weekend.
Thanks, makes sense. You've convinced me that it's much more likely than not that he's not coming up soon. But I do look forward to his promotion if/when it comes.
 

joe dokes

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Nobody who played last night is missing from practice today. They also don't have the salary cap space. They have $60,000 in cap space. Merkulov's cap hit is $925,000. Patrick Brown makes $800,000 so they can't just swap the two, something else would need to happen, like demoting Wotherspoon or Lohrei. I suppose that's possible if Grzelyck (who was a full participant in practice) can play.

Providence and Boston both played on the road last night and then have back-to-back's on Friday and Saturday. It'd be an odd time to decide to drop a prospect into the mix. No practice, after playing and traveling via bus, here you go for your first 2 NHL games. Not exactly ideal. They typically don't call up the prospects until they think the player is ready to stick, unless injuries force their hand.

Add it all up and I don't think it's happening, at least this weekend.
Can a player physically be in Boston (or with the Bruins) for a day or 3 (practicing or just working out) before he is officially "called up" (i.e., triggering the salary cap ramifications)?
 

cshea

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He can be around the team but cannot practice with them until he is officially on the roster.

FWIW, Merkulov's former USHL team tweeted congrats.

View: https://twitter.com/YtownPhantoms/status/1740432327954882664?s=20


Maybe I'm wrong. It'd just be unusual for them to call up a highly touted prospect without a practice when there are no NHL injuries.

Monty was asked about it at his press conference and didn't tip his hand one way or the other but did say he's hearing from Mougenel that Merkulov's defensive game is coming around.
 

Ferm Sheller

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He can be around the team but cannot practice with them until he is officially on the roster.

FWIW, Merkulov's former USHL team tweeted congrats.

View: https://twitter.com/YtownPhantoms/status/1740432327954882664?s=20


Maybe I'm wrong. It'd just be unusual for them to call up a highly touted prospect without a practice when there are no NHL injuries.

Monty was asked about it at his press conference and didn't tip his hand one way or the other but did say he's hearing from Mougenel that Merkulov's defensive game is coming around.
Maybe their source is Allred?
 

cshea

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No clue where he goes in. I assume he's playing. This is how they practiced yesterday:

Zacha - Geekie - Pastrnak
Marchand - Coyle - DeBrusk
van Riemsdyk - Frederic - Heinen
Lauko - Beecher - Steen

I would think he goes in somwhere on the top 9, but I have no idea who they are pulling out. I guess sit steen, slide Heinen to 4RW and kick Freddy to 3RW and the 3rd line becomes JVR - Merkulov - Frederic?
 

cshea

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Also, I am an idiot. I thought they played tonight and tomorrow but in reality they play Saturday and Sunday. This is part of how I got confused.
 

joe dokes

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Also, I am an idiot. I thought they played tonight and tomorrow but in reality they play Saturday and Sunday. This is part of how I got confused.
I've lost track as well. These are the weeks when its difficult to know what day it is.
 
Dec 30, 2022
51
What is the feeling about Wotherspoon's play? He seems to have replaced Mitchell as the 7th d-man and won some of Monty's confidence. Strictly eye test, but he seems to be a steady presence and fulfills some of the functions you wish Forbort would practice on a regular basis. Bottom line, for me, I don't feel any anxiety when I see #29 on the lineup sheet.
 
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cshea

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Interesting to see what happens with Poitras on the way back. Prior to the tournament, Sweeney said Poitras would be staying with Boston for the rest of the season but it would also seem he can't co-exist with Merkulov. Easiset thing to do is send Merk back to Providence, but what if he shows well in the next 2-3 games?
 

Salem's Lot

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Interesting to see what happens with Poitras on the way back. Prior to the tournament, Sweeney said Poitras would be staying with Boston for the rest of the season but it would also seem he can't co-exist with Merkulov. Easiset thing to do is send Merk back to Providence, but what if he shows well in the next 2-3 games?
I’m sure they can find another forward to drop off the roster if Poitras & Merkulov bought play well enough to deserve to be here.
 

cshea

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Sorry, meant more about ice time and usage more than roster spot. At least at present, it's hard to picture a lineup that has both Merkulov and Poitras in it.

I missed the last 2 games but I think this was their lineup:

Zacha - Geekie - Pastrnak
Marchand - Coyle - DeBrusk
JVR/Heinen - Merkulov - Frederic
Lauko - Beecher - Steen

What does it look like with both Merk and Poitras?

The obvious answer is Steen coming out but the 4th line serves a specific purpose and I'm not sure Poitras or Merkulov are suited for it. Plus they'd have to move to wing, not great either. So they'd have to shake up elsewhere. I guess drop Geekie back to 4RW and the kids become the 1C and 3C? That's a little dicey, 3 rookie centers though I guess 1 would be covered a bit by having Zacha on the ice with him.

I do kinda wonder if they sent Poitras to the WJC assuming Canada would make it to at least a medal game and thought that gave them enough runway to see Merkulov before having to make a decision. Then Canada flamed out.
 

Lupe Whalewatch

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His first goal was an empty netter, and his second was essentially an empty netter as well. The announcers repeatedly said that NHL players tend to struggle when coming back to World Juniors, so maybe it was just him putting too much pressure on himself to produce.
 

Salem's Lot

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Also, I'm sure he'll be fine after the raw emotions settle and he realizes he's coming back to the NHL, but this is kind of the one downside of sending him:

View: https://twitter.com/markhmasters/status/1742230730703278346?s=20


He had 4 points in 5 games which is fine but there is outside pressure. "He's in the NHL, surely he'll put up 4 points per game!"
If they send him down to juniors now it might really hurt the kid. Personally I would waive Heinen. Play Merkulov with Pastrnak & Zacha. Play Poitras with Geekie on the wing with Frederic on the other, and scratch JVR. DeBrusk can have his power play time.

I want to play guys with upside this season to see what they have going forward. Heinen & JVR aren’t going to be a part of the next Bruins team that truly contends for a cup.
 

cshea

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Well they already said Poitras would return to Boston after the tournament so I doubt anything has changed on that front. I think the more likely case is they send Merkulov back to Providence once Poitras is back since they have that flexibility.

All that being said, apparently Beecher will be a healthy scratch tonight and Merkulov is going to center the 4th line. So maybe that sticks for a bit but I don't love it based on Monty's 4th line usage.

These things tend to sort themselves out be it through injury or performance/.
 

catomatic

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Well they already said Poitras would return to Boston after the tournament so I doubt anything has changed on that front. I think the more likely case is they send Merkulov back to Providence once Poitras is back since they have that flexibility.

All that being said, apparently Beecher will be a healthy scratch tonight and Merkulov is going to center the 4th line. So maybe that sticks for a bit but I don't love it based on Monty's 4th line usage.

These things tend to sort themselves out be it through injury or performance/.
It says right here that they’ll miss Beecher at the dot tonight.
 

Salem's Lot

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I also wanted to bench JVR and he has a 3 point night so what do I know?

Honestly I just don’t want to block prospects with guys that are probably going to be playing somewhere else next season, but it’s probably the wrong move. As CShea said, these things tend to work themselves out anyway.
 

TFP

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I also wanted to bench JVR and he has a 3 point night so what do I know?

Honestly I just don’t want to block prospects with guys that are probably going to be playing somewhere else next season, but it’s probably the wrong move. As CShea said, these things tend to work themselves out anyway.
I really have nothing to complain about this year. They have young players getting experience (3 rookie centers getting time is almost unheard of). Over half their lineup is players they've drafted. Role players are playing well and contributing on low contracts. Star level players are doing what they should. This is a perfect mix of developing young players on a bridge year while also winning games.

Personally I'm just gonna enjoy the ride and hope for good things in April.
 
Dec 30, 2022
51
I just don't get folks wanting to cut Heinen or demote him or put him on the 9th floor. He's not blocking any rookies (all centers) and has played solid, error-free professional hockey for well under a million. What is not to like?! He might not score >12 goals, but he kills penalties, forechecks as well as anyone on the team and never, ever stops hustling. And who would you rather have on the ice helping to protect a one goal lead in the third period? Heinen or Merkulov/Poitras? The kids will get their time, #43 might just help us in the playoffs this year.
 

wiffleballhero

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I don't want the Bruins to do anything that loses veteran assets. This is not a rebuilding year.

Don't the Bruins have the most points in the NHL right now? Say what you want about their weaknesses, or the silliness of the regular season, but the Bruins are a very good hockey team that, when healthy, should go into the playoffs with two pretty great goalies.

They are not going to have that luxury too many more seasons. Maybe they can just spend the next handful of months not thinking too much about tomorrow?
 

cshea

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Yeah, they have the best record in the league at the moment after last night's win and Rangers loss.

It was never a rebuilding year but definitely is a bridge year. They had to fill in the roster with cheap veterans and young players. So far they've exceeded expectations. What you see is what you get though, I wouldn't expect improvements from outside the organization.
 

TFP

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What you see is what you get though, I wouldn't expect improvements from outside the organization.
Yeah - this is definitely not a "push the chips to the center" year like in the recent memory, which is fine by me. Thankfully getting playoff experience is valuable for all the young guys, including Swayman. Even if they don't go all the way this year, they can build off understanding what it takes to do so and the future looks brighter by the day.

I counted the other night and I think 13 out of 18 skaters were Bruins draft picks (including Heinen in that). That's pretty awesome work considering we've all thought their internal development has been crap (myself included).

The Pasta and McAvoy draft picks were franchise altering and both outside the top 10. Not often that happens I don't think.
 
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Frisbetarian

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Eh, faceoffs are overated and their top 3 are above 50%. It's fine.
I’m not sure faceoffs are overrated, but they are certainly not the be all end all. I did a study a few years back for the team looking at like 10 years of faceoff data, maybe 750,000 faceoffs. Please indulge me while I relate the following kinda cool story that discusses the value of faceoffs.

The issue we had was, Claude didn't trust anyone else on the team on face-offs in the DZ, so Bergeron was taking the majority of draws in both the OZ, because his line was the most potent offensively, and the DZ, as Claude wanted the puck back. This of course led to Bergeron playing way too many minutes and losing effectiveness in 3rd periods.

I took a look at the effect of faceoffs on goals, specifically examining how many goals are scored within X seconds of a face-off. Simplistically, what I found was for every 50 (not the real number, but good enough for this) OZ or DZ faceoffs won more than lost a team would score or allow a goal. At this point, Bergeron was winning ~60% of his faceoffs, while Krejci was at ~50%. Running the numbers, I found the difference between Krejci and Bergeron taking 200 DZ faceoffs would be less than 1 goal, and that having Krejci take more non high leverage draws in his own end would be a "safe" way to reduce Bergeron's TOI and increase his late game effectiveness.

Claude, Donnie, and Cam all were on board with this idea. The team was on the road, and I was watching their next game at a bar in Allston. I was psyched to see Kerjci in for a DZ FO in the 2nd period with the Bruins up a goal. Anyway, predictably Krejci lost the faceoff clean back to the point, where the defenseman took a slap shot that was tipped in for a tie game. Ugh. I turned to the person I was with and said, "I am going to get fired." I mean, I could hear Cam from Allston screaming "1 in 50!!!" Indeed, I dd hear later from Donnie that Cam was pretty upset when that happened (an understatement), and he didn't hesitate to let me know it the next time he saw me. But by then he was calmed down, and his ball busting was done mostly in jest.

But, to the team and Donnie's, Cam's, and Claude's credit, they did not stop using Krejci on DZ faceoffs. And nothing horrible happened after that unfortunate event. We got Bergeron's minutes down, and he was fine in 3rd periods thereafter.
 

cshea

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That's a great story.

I always remember an anecdote provided by Jeff Marek, I think, on a podcast several years ago about draws. Basically draws are just one of hundreds of thousands of puck battles that happen within each game. The story relayed was that an AHL team had done a study and found that, on the PP, the team on the man advantage was more likely to score a goal off a lost faceoff than a winning one. The theory was on won draws the PK team is already set up in their defensive posture whereas off a win the defensive team gets out of position trying to retrieve and exit. Not clue of the validity of that but it stuck with me.

Although I will say I do wonder how much some of the Bruins struggles this year protecting late leads can be traced back to not having Bergeron for key DZ draws (among the million other things he was so good at in those situations).
 

LogansDad

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I’m not sure faceoffs are overrated, but they are certainly not the be all end all. I did a study a few years back for the team looking at like 10 years of faceoff data, maybe 750,000 faceoffs. Please indulge me while I relate the following kinda cool story that discusses the value of faceoffs.

The issue we had was, Claude didn't trust anyone else on the team on face-offs in the DZ, so Bergeron was taking the majority of draws in both the OZ, because his line was the most potent offensively, and the DZ, as Claude wanted the puck back. This of course led to Bergeron playing way too many minutes and losing effectiveness in 3rd periods.

I took a look at the effect of faceoffs on goals, specifically examining how many goals are scored within X seconds of a face-off. Simplistically, what I found was for every 50 (not the real number, but good enough for this) OZ or DZ faceoffs won more than lost a team would score or allow a goal. At this point, Bergeron was winning ~60% of his faceoffs, while Krejci was at ~50%. Running the numbers, I found the difference between Krejci and Bergeron taking 200 DZ faceoffs would be less than 1 goal, and that having Krejci take more non high leverage draws in his own end would be a "safe" way to reduce Bergeron's TOI and increase his late game effectiveness.

Claude, Donnie, and Cam all were on board with this idea. The team was on the road, and I was watching their next game at a bar in Allston. I was psyched to see Kerjci in for a DZ FO in the 2nd period with the Bruins up a goal. Anyway, predictably Krejci lost the faceoff clean back to the point, where the defenseman took a slap shot that was tipped in for a tie game. Ugh. I turned to the person I was with and said, "I am going to get fired." I mean, I could hear Cam from Allston screaming "1 in 50!!!" Indeed, I dd hear later from Donnie that Cam was pretty upset when that happened (an understatement), and he didn't hesitate to let me know it the next time he saw me. But by then he was calmed down, and his ball busting was done mostly in jest.

But, to the team and Donnie's, Cam's, and Claude's credit, they did not stop using Krejci on DZ faceoffs. And nothing horrible happened after that unfortunate event. We got Bergeron's minutes down, and he was fine in 3rd periods thereafter.
Spectacular story, and a nice reminder of why I love this place.
 

riveraulwick

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Awesome story Fris. I can just picture Cam at that moment.

And thank you Chea for addressing the faceoff issue with your insights. It has all been very informative to someone like me who has been getting progressively upset with the recent increase in faceoff inefficiency after a solid start to the season. Although I agree with many of data points raised by Fris and Chea, I would say that (to my eyes anyway) there is a big difference between losing DZ faceoffs and losing them very cleanly. Clean faceoff loses in your DZ often lead to set plays that result in hard saves with the defense rushing to get back in position.

I guess what I'm trying say is that not all faceoff loses are the same, although they are counted the same.
 

Haunted

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750,000 seems like an awful small sample size, no?


(kidding kidding kiddin!)



(amazing story!)
 

joe dokes

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I’m not sure faceoffs are overrated, but they are certainly not the be all end all. I did a study a few years back for the team looking at like 10 years of faceoff data, maybe 750,000 faceoffs. Please indulge me while I relate the following kinda cool story that discusses the value of faceoffs.

The issue we had was, Claude didn't trust anyone else on the team on face-offs in the DZ, so Bergeron was taking the majority of draws in both the OZ, because his line was the most potent offensively, and the DZ, as Claude wanted the puck back. This of course led to Bergeron playing way too many minutes and losing effectiveness in 3rd periods.

I took a look at the effect of faceoffs on goals, specifically examining how many goals are scored within X seconds of a face-off. Simplistically, what I found was for every 50 (not the real number, but good enough for this) OZ or DZ faceoffs won more than lost a team would score or allow a goal. At this point, Bergeron was winning ~60% of his faceoffs, while Krejci was at ~50%. Running the numbers, I found the difference between Krejci and Bergeron taking 200 DZ faceoffs would be less than 1 goal, and that having Krejci take more non high leverage draws in his own end would be a "safe" way to reduce Bergeron's TOI and increase his late game effectiveness.

Claude, Donnie, and Cam all were on board with this idea. The team was on the road, and I was watching their next game at a bar in Allston. I was psyched to see Kerjci in for a DZ FO in the 2nd period with the Bruins up a goal. Anyway, predictably Krejci lost the faceoff clean back to the point, where the defenseman took a slap shot that was tipped in for a tie game. Ugh. I turned to the person I was with and said, "I am going to get fired." I mean, I could hear Cam from Allston screaming "1 in 50!!!" Indeed, I dd hear later from Donnie that Cam was pretty upset when that happened (an understatement), and he didn't hesitate to let me know it the next time he saw me. But by then he was calmed down, and his ball busting was done mostly in jest.

But, to the team and Donnie's, Cam's, and Claude's credit, they did not stop using Krejci on DZ faceoffs. And nothing horrible happened after that unfortunate event. We got Bergeron's minutes down, and he was fine in 3rd periods thereafter.
That is a great story. I think I remember further evolution in which Cassidy explicitly said that he wanted to increase Bergeron's OZ time because he thought Bergerson was a really good offensive player whose skills there were being underutilized.