There are very few players in the NHL that make an impact at a high level right out of the shoot. Guy’s like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane and Vladimir Taresenko have graced us with their talent since their rookie seasons. 6 of those 7 players are the league leaders in points scored. There’s no questioning the talent of these players who have came in and taken the league by storm.
Then there’s Brad Marchand.
Marchand didn’t have the paved road to success any of the guys above I mentioned. The Boston Bruins drafted him in the 3rd round 71st overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Little did the team know what was going to happen 5 years later.
In his first full year in Providence, the then 20 year old scored 59 points in 79 games. Marchand also had a great playoff run for the team that year scoring 15 points in 16 games. The Bruins then realized they could have something special with this player even though he may be undersized. The team gave Marchand the well-deserved callup to the big club for his spectacular play down in the American Hockey League.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the rookie forward in Boston though. After scoring his 1st NHL point in his 1st NHL game, Marchand did not contribute a single point in his next 19 games. There were re assignments to the P-Bruins and callups during that year, but it was sure a rocky start for the young forward.
In 2011 things changed dramatically. Brad made the team out of camp due to a great pre season and made the teams 4th line. Marchand’s game was strictly just to be a pest and get under the opponents skin. Marchand scored his first NHL goal in Buffalo on a highlight reel play on the breakaway. From there it was all systems go. Marchand kept playing and producing into a better player as the year went on. The Bruins went on to promote him into a more prominent role, playing with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi.
That line went on to have great success and Marchand finished the regular season with 21 Goals, 20 Assists and 41 Points in his first full season with Boston. Not only was Marchand a factor come playoff time, he was at times one of the Bruins best players night in and out. Marchand’s pest role reached a whole new level in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks. Whether it was jabbing Daniel Sedin repeatedly in the face or chirping the entire Vancouver bench, the team needed every bit of that to gain the mental advantage on the Canucks.
Marchand finished 2nd in goals in the entire 2011 playoffs with 11 and scored 5 of them in the Stanley Cup Finals against Vancouver. The Bruins went onto win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and Brad Marchand was one of the biggest reasons why. If it was not for Tim Thomas winning the Conn Smythe trophy, in my opinion the award would’ve went to Brad Marchand who was by far the teams most consistent performers during that run.
Fast forward a few years later, Brad Marchand found himself back in the Stanley Cup Finals against the well-rounded Chicago Blackhawks. Up until the Stanley Cup Finals he scored 13 points. Not bad, but goal totals were low, only accumulating 4 in 16 games. Surely he was going to have another magical impact in the Stanley Cup Finals again right? Wrong. Marchand did not record a single point during the series with the Blackhawks and had a +/- rating of -3.
Bruins moved on to next year quick and not only claiming the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but as the leagues best team and were awarded with the Presidents trophy. Marchand took another step forward in his growth as a player upping his point totals to 53 points and leading the league in short handed goals with 5. As soon as the playoffs came around, Marchand struggled once again. Despite not scoring a single point against the Detroit Red Wings in a 5 game series the team advanced and took on the hated Montreal Canadiens. Marchand looked to have broken out of his slump scoring 5 points in the 1st 3 games of the series but once again being shutout of scoring a single goal throughout the entire 2014 playoffs.
Marchand followed that season with one of the worst of his career by only scoring 42 points in 77 games. On top of that, the team missed the playoffs for the 1st time since 2006-2007. Fans started speculating that something was just not right with Marchand since the Canadiens series in 2014. The fans then went to turn his back on him as soon as trade rumors ramped up. However the Bruins decided to keep Marchand and trade away Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic.
Motivated by the trade rumors and the naysayers, in 2015-2016, Brad Marchand put together one of the best scoring runs in recent Bruins history. The scoring phenom won the fans back by finishing the season with 37 Goals 24 Assists and 61 Points. Most notably he has taken a step back from his role of a pest and rides the line when he needs to. Marcahnd has matured a lot as player and a lot of that has come with playing with his best friend Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron has made such an impact on Marchand’s career on the ice and a better person off the ice.
Marchand earned his big money contract getting 8 years and 49 million dollars prior to this season. In the midst of contract negotiations, he was invited to Team Canada to play for the World Cup of Hockey. Marchand flourished scoring 5 Goals, 3 Assists and 8 Points in just 6 games played. The little ball of hate was by far one of Canada’s best players on the ice for the entire tournament despite not winning the tournament MVP. Marchand has yet to disappoint and he’s on a role again for the Black and Gold. With 17 Goals and 26 Assists and 43 points, that’s good for 5th in the league, tied with fellow former teammate Tyler Seguin.
Marchands’s journey to NHL was a bumpy one that had many leaps and bounds but he overcame it. He’s now amongst one of the most dangerous forwards in hockey. Whether it’s tapping into that role of being a pest, his dual threat ability on the penalty kill or just straight up scoring highlight reel goals, we need to face facts. Brad Marchand is one of the best hockey players in the game today.
Photo credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)