Do Bruins owe their veteran core a big addition at NHL trade deadline? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Bruins don’t look like a team that needs a ton of help at the NHL trade deadline.
The B’s lead the league standings by nine points. They rank No. 2 in goals scored, No. 1 in goals allowed, No. 6 on the power play and No. 1 on the penalty kill.
Despite these impressive statistics, you can never have enough depth for the Stanley Cup playoffs, whether that’s scoring depth up front or defensive depth on the blue line. A lack of depth in one or both of these areas has proven fatal for Boston in several of its recent postseason runs.
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Do the Bruins owe their veteran players a major addition at the trade deadline to strengthen their roster for what could be a Stanley Cup run in the spring?
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek, on Monday’s episode of the “32 Thoughts” podcast, discussed an interesting conversation he had with someone from another team this past weekend. Keep in mind, this podcast was recorded before Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat was traded to the New York Islanders on Monday night.
“I had a conversation with someone from another team on Saturday who said, ‘I expect and we expect the Bruins to do something really big.’ (Bo) Horvat would be really big. And I said, why specifically? They’re going gangbusters and the chemistry is right on,” Marek said.
“And this person said to me there’s probably a feeling in the organization that they owe it to players who came back and signed team-friendly deals — that they owe them something. Whether it’s Patrice Bergeron, who came back on that contract. David Krejci. Brad Marchand has always been on a very team-friendly deal based on his performance, his place in the game and what he’s done and how much money he’s probably left on the table, too.
“This person also said to me, one of the sidebars we’re going to watch here is how both Tampa and Boston fight over the same players. They’ve fought over the same players before, when Tampa got (Ryan) McDonagh and J.T. Miller from the Rangers (in 2018). It sounds like Boston was in that as well. That’s going to be a really interesting one here to follow.
“But I think there is that sense, at least according to this person from another team, and that is Boston owes these players a shot at doing something significant because of how they’ve helped the organization. Look what Bergeron came back for. Look what Krejci came back for. There’s a sense that, OK, you guys have done this for us, now we’re going to do this for you.”
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This entire premise makes a lot of sense.
What Bergeron and Krejci did by coming back on cheap, incentive-laden deals has helped the Bruins tremendously. Bergeron is still one of the best centers in the game and the top two-way forward. His salary cap hit is just $2.5 million. Krejci has tallied 41 points in 45 games and upgraded Boston’s No. 2 center spot with a cap hit of only $1 million.
Even though the B’s could be a really good team for a few more years, especially if Bergeron continues to play, it’s important for them not to waste the current opportunity. The Bruins are on pace to have one of the best regular seasons in league history. The team chemistry is phenomenal and the health of the group overall has been pretty good, too. This roster could look much different next year. There are more than 10 players on Boston’s NHL roster eligible for unrestricted or restricted free agency this summer. Bringing everyone back will be quite difficult, if not impossible, because of the salary cap, so maximizing this opportunity is crucial.
What would pass for a big move at this trade deadline?
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Even with Horvat now off the board, there are several other forwards who could make a huge impact on Boston’s scoring depth. Those names include Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane, St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly and right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, as well as San Jose Sharks left wing Timo Meier. Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun would qualify as a big addition, too.
Don Sweeney hasn’t been afraid to make bold moves at the trade deadline since becoming the Bruins’ general manager in 2015. He has acquired star players such as Rick Nash, Taylor Hall and Hampus Lindholm. He also has traded three of the team’s last five first-round picks.
Sweeney cannot afford to do nothing at this trade deadline. Bergeron, Krejci and Marchand deserve the best possible chance to win because this upcoming playoff run could be their last great opportunity to claim the second Stanley Cup title that’s eluded them over the last decade.