I don't care who the Boston Bruins traded to the Dallas Stars in the most recent trade (the one before that was tragic. We miss you Lane MacDermid). Let's just say that the Bruins sent a drunken bag of pucks to Dallas in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser, and Joe Morrow.
My only purpose in this post is to talk about the prospects in that trade, which equate to everyone except Eriksson. Smith has played well at times, but as a guy who is exempt from waivers and only in his second full professional season after opting out of his senior year at Miami University, I sometimes wonder if a few games in Providence could be a reasonable option. It might help him scrub the suck of Brad Marchand off of him.
Assuming that Smith going to the AHL is never an option, that leaves me looking at Fraser and Morrow - two guys from Alberta with a lot of WHL experience, but completely different styles and expectations.
Prospects With a Purpose
In weighing the pros and cons of the Eriksson trade, consider that these prospects may have more value in the eyes of the Bruins than in the eyes of pretty much every fan. Without having high draft picks last year and a pool of prospects that is now completely absent from the biggest developmental junior hockey program in the world in the CHL, the Bruins acquired a first round draft pick in Morrow and an undrafted Fraser who has more goals in the AHL over the last two years than any other player.
Over the years, the Bruins AHL farm system has been very efficient and successful in developing young talent. As I've gone over in painstaking detail, almost every player on the roster that is of any significance spent at least some time in the AHL prior to making it to the NHL full-time. Trust in that efficient farm system may be a factor that is downplayed - perhaps Fraser and Morrow were stagnating in their development in the Pittsburgh and Dallas systems, but the Bruins believe they can change that in their own system. The Bruins have had a good eye for players that may not be thriving elsewhere but can thrive under a new system under which the Bruins play.
Fraser was a late cut from Boston Bruins camp this pre-season. He's not willing to settle for the AHL for the rest of his career, either, and is getting closer to NHL-ready each year. He is driven, and still young at 23 years old. He made appearances in the AHL All-Star Game each of the last two years. Prior to that, he helped his team win a WHL championship and lead the WHL in playoff scoring.
This year in Providence, he is making the best of a frustrating situation as someone who wants to work his way ito the NHL. He is tied for the lead in Providence goal scoring with six goals (along with Nick Johnson), and that includes three power play goals. He can get off a shot fast, and takes a lot of them. He has 34 shots through 10 games in Providence, which is the most on the team.
Fraser can also play either side on the wing. He just needs to adjust defensively in that he needs to stop being a defensive liability. Oh, and Fraser is pretty tough; not necessarily a perpetual fighter, but will drop the gloves to answer for a big hit or try to get his team going, as he did on Friday against the Manchester Monarchs when he fought Monarchs captain Andrew Campbell in a fight that, although it appeared Campbell landed many more blows (directly to Fraser's helmet), Campbell ended up injuring himself (probably on the helmet). Let's just chalk it up to Fraser being badass.
Morrow was drafted 23rd overall by Pittsburgh in the 2011 entry draft. After initially making a strong case for the Penguins NHL roster, they sent him down to spent another year in the WHL. When he finally turned pro, they sent him to the AHL and didn't wait even a full lockout-shortened season before trading him for a quick fix in Brenden Morrow.
Morrow has put up great numbers in the WHL and decent ones in the AHL. He's good in the offensive zone, and is still acclimating to the duties of defensemen at the pro level. He got off to a bit of a slow start - as the entire Providence team seemingly has, especially on the blue line - but has improved a bit every game. As a young player on a roster of very young players, he may not take off right away as the team is struggling right now, but he's an integral part of the lineup.
Morrow started the season with one point in five games, but then went on a four-game point-scoring streak that only ended this Saturday against the Manchester Monarchs (DAMMIT MONARCHS). Morrow currently had four goals and two assists for six points, which is best among Providence defensemen through 10 games (fifth overall on the team). If he can sustain consistency, then he could be a very significant defensemen in the Bruins system. That will be the job of the Providence staff this year - to help foster that. Maybe not to the extent they were able to do with Torey Krug last year, but you get the idea.
And don't forget, Morrow is only 20 years old. That's damn young for a defensemen with promise. Only one year older than former Next Bobby Orr, Dougie Hamilton (Current Next Bobby Orr is, of course, Torey Krug).
Consensus: Bruins Win The Trade*
And that brings me to my end, where I will now weave together the pieces of this complex deal with a fun fact I straight up stole from the Bruins website: Loui Eriksson assisted on the first career NHL point for two third of the players he was traded to Boston with (Smith and Fraser). And who knows? There's still time for him to factor into Joe Morrow's first NHL goal, given that Morrow has yet to play in an NHL game in his young career. Let's call Loui Eriksson the godfather to the players of this trade and stop dwelling on the negatives that have been talked about ad nauseam for the last few days.
*Please don't take that statement seriously.