To say the least, it's a massive week for the Boston Bruins. Will they be buyers, sellers or do nothing? That is the question facing the Boston Bruins right now with one week to go until the NHL trade deadline.
- Tuukka Rask's health. Rask skated before practice today and will travel with the team on their road trip to Philly & DC. No word when he'll be back in net.
- The standings. B's sit in 4th place right now with 4 games in hand on everyone below them, 2 games in hand on the Flyers (who they're trying to beat out). If the Bruins don't string together some wins this week I can see Sweeney being hesitant on pulling the trigger on a trade.
That being said, this morning I put out a poll on Twitter regarding what the B's should do come the deadline and some of the replies are interesting. More than 65.7% of people want the Bruins to buy, 19% want them to sell, and 15.3% want them to do absolutely nothing.
There really is no correct answer. No one really knows what the B's are thinking right now. I'm sure they're in a ton of different conversations. It's up to Don Sweeney to decide where this team is headed. But there are some different variables that come into play.. First and foremost is Tuukka Rask's health. Is he going to be healthy and lead this team come playoff time? It's encouraging to see him return to the ice, he will travel with the team, but will be out tomorrow night. Will Sweeney have enough information on Rask before the deadline? If Tuukka is limping into the playoffs I do not want to see Sweeney acquiring a pure rental.
Someone mentioned it in the tweets above, but the Bruins don't have to go up against the Lightning in the playoffs like they had to in years past and they have beaten every team ahead of them in their division (save for the Islanders). If Sweeney is going to BUY it should be for a top four defenseman. The Cup window may be closing at a rapid pace, but you have to give Bergeron, Marchand, Krejci (UFA at year end) and Rask (also UFA) another opportunity to try and win it all once again. I don't think this core will stay together after this season. One last kick at the can sort of thing.
To play devil's advocate you could also argue that the team just isn't good enough this year and their hot start was indeed smoke and mirrors. Why give up some assets if you think they won't be able to contend?
In my opinion, you can't just do nothing at the deadline. If Rask is ready to go (I presume he will be), the BIGGEST need for the Boston Bruins is a top four defenseman.
Obviously Nashville's Mattias Ekholm is the ultimate prize. The LD would almost be a perfect fit in Boston. He has another year left on his deal (3.75M), but boy is he gonna cost a pretty penny AND Nashville has been winning as of late. What would it take to acquire him? Starts with a 1st round pick, a high end prospect and more (perhaps another pick). You would have to protect him in the expansion draft, which would then require a shift in the Bruins' expansion protection list since you'll want to protect all of your top 4 D. But man he'd help you right now and you'd have him for next year.
David Savard is a RD that is a UFA at year's end, he'd be a cheaper option than Ekholm but would have to play his off side. Some other rental options would be, Alex Goligoski (LD, 35 yo but has some gas left in the tank) and Jamie Oleksiak (big body, 6'7, also a LD).
Brandon Carlo's injury (upper body, not concussion) is another reason the Bruins should go out and grab a defenseman. He is currently week to week. Kevan Miller is a possibility to play tomorrow night but you never know if he'll stay in the lineup. Jeremy Lazuon was a healthy scratch on Saturday after a brutal game Thursday night. Jakub Zboril has had better games. I think it's imperative to go out and get a defenseman that will help you right now. By far the biggest need. Get McAvoy and Grzelcyk some help until Carlo can return. Solidify the defense and the offense will come.
Speaking of offense, another scoring winger would help bolster the forward group. Kyle Palmieri from NJD is certainly going to be dealt, he's been linked to the B's dating back to last trade deadline. I think he'd look great alongside David Krejci. I have always loved Bobby Ryan's game, think he'd be another solid fit for Krejci on the right side.
Taylor Hall would've been a nice addition this offseason, but I can't see a scenario where he gets traded to BOS.
Mikael Granlund is a UFA at year's end but perhaps a package for Ekholm and Granlund could be a scenario where Don Sweeney feels more comfortable giving up assets for. Try to kill two birds with one stone.
I can totally see a scenario in which Don Sweeney says that Ondrej Kase returning (if/when he does) was his "deadline move"… that would be infuriating.
If the B's are sellers? Jake DeBrusk is the only true trade chip they have right now. Maybe Anders Bjork. Jack Studnicka could be offered in a package, Urho Vaakanainen… but the B's have a depleted prospect pool. If you deal any of these players it's definitely going to be for another NHL player, none of them would be for picks/assets.
So what do they do? It's tough to say because they need to make more than one move if they want to go deep in the playoffs this year. It's up to Sweeney to decide where he feels this team is headed. Is it too late to improve? Here are the current standings. Gotta make these games in hand count. I think it's a massive week for the B's, and their play will help dictate what Sweeney does. But it starts with Tuukka Rask and then Sweeney will go from there. He can't do nothing, IMO. I lean more toward giving Krejci and company another kick at the can, because after this year this core will be no more. Needless to say it's a MASSIVE week for the Boston Bruins.
B's have two games in hand on Philly who they are trying to beat out for 4th in the East and 4 games in hand on everyone above them.
Here are the news, notes and quotes heading into tonight's game vs. the Flyers.
- Jaro Halak returned a positive test and is out tonight. Dan Vladar will start. Jeremy Swayman will back up.
"Tuukka skated. He's getting better. But he's not playing tonight and he's not playing tomorrow. He'll travel with us, get some work and see where it ends up."
- Tuukka Rask will not play tomorrow night but will travel with the team.
- Jake DeBrusk is off the COVID-19 list after missing 6 games and will play tonight. Said he experienced some mild symptoms, lost ability to smell/taste but his lungs were not effected.
- Anders Bjork will sit tonight with DeBrusk returning. Unfortunate for Anders I thought he was playing well as of late.
Marchand - Bergeron - Smith
Ritchie - Krejci - Pastrnak
DeBrusk - Coyle - Senyshyn
Frederic - Kuraly - Kuhlman
Grzelcyk - McAvoy
Lauzon - Clifton
Zboril - Kampfer
It's time to build off Saturday's win… massive two games against the Flyers… starts tonight.
It's a great night to win a hockey game.