Let's face it. The Boston Bruins need defensive help.
Anybody in New England who's woken up in a cold sweat after visions of Kevan Miller standing immobile or worse, flopping across the crease jittering like an ant under a magnifying glass as an opposition forward gleefully deposits the puck past a helpless Bruins goalie, or given themselves anger hernias recoiling from the thought of a Dennis Seidenberg-Adam McQuaid pairing on the blueline knows it.
Anybody who's realised that even Zdeno Chara can't hold back the march of time indefinitely and may, at some point, be injured this season knows it.
The screams for Don Sweeney to do something, ANYTHING to strengthen a Bruins blue-line he weakened through his own fault have been growing despite the B's decent start to the season, and they'll only get louder after last night's loss to the San Jose Sharks in a 5-4 shootout that once again saw Tuukka Rask cruelly exposed to some of the league's best forwards by a despairing, static defence, not least on Joe Thornton's PP goal
That's just superb passing by the Sharks, admittedly...but look how easily they find their way through a Bruins D that simply sits there and lets the opposition pass around them...there's only so much Zdeno Chara can do to cut off a pass, after all. The need is plain for all to see. Tuukka Rask needs help in front of him.
The screams for a more mobile, aggressive, high-pressure defenceman who can play a role in both zones are almost deafening at this point in Boston, which has led to Chowder speculation posts of all kinds, like this one where we tried to fix the Bruins defence ourselves and this and this on the prospect or otherwise of Tyson Barrie being a viable trade target.
The problem the Bruins have here is that with their defensive woes out there every night for all to see, mostly in the persona of a big hulking problem child in a number 86 jersey, they're jumping into the trade market with all the subtlety and about the same amount of control as a starving dog racing into a butchers' shop looking for the last sausage in town. Everybody out there knows what they want, and everybody knows they're desperate for it.
These, as any budding businessman, diplomat or even sports general manager will tell you, are not good conditions under which to start a negotiation. In fact, they're what are commonly known as "the exact opposite of good".
Right now the trade market for defensemen in the NHL is a seller's market (or it should be) which makes Don Sweeney's absolute crapping of the bed on the Dougie Hamilton return even more unfathomable then it already was. With mobile two-way defensemen the hottest property in the NHL, any team that even hints its in the market for one had better be planning to either develop one from within or pay a high price to acquire one.
The Bruins haven't really got time to develop one from within (at least not if they want to fix their defensive Achilles heel any time soon) which means that they're going onto the market under pressure from a fanbase to acquire a player, with relatively few players that make the grade out there, and teams unwilling to move said players (even if they're looking to do so) without making sure that they're damn sure they can get the best possible deal in return.
Oh yeah, and Don Sweeney is doing this having very recently massively undersold at least one of his most outstanding assets, which coincidentally is exactly the sort of player he's now looking for.
In short, what the Bruins are about to do is the hockey trading equivalent of putting on a diving suit made of fresh meat and jumping into a shark tank hoping to come out unscathed.
It's these kinds of situations that opposing GMs, if they're any good at all, should be living for. Colorado have floated that they'd at least not turn down flat any offer for Tyson Barrie, which means that they are either incredibly stupid or, more likely, have scented blood in the water and see an opportunity for a deal which will see them come out ahead. Any team with a surplus of defencemen and covetous eyes on Bruins' surplus of young forward talent will be licking their lips right now, praying that their phone rings with a Boston area code.
These are the kinds of circumstances in which panic trades get made. The kinds of circumstances in which any team with a fringe defenceman having a half-decent season or indeed coming off a better-than-expected season is thinking "we could be in the money here".
The bait will be dangling in the water for Don Sweeney to make an even bigger fool of himself over the next few weeks as other NHL GMs scent weakness - and the Tyson Barrie "rumours" just happening to come out at a time the Bruins and indeed several other NHL teams are looking for some major defensive help are no accident.
They're the bait in a trap. One that circumstances have left wide open for the Bruins to fall into.
Now don't get me wrong, here. I'm not saying the B's shouldn't be testing the market and at least kicking the tyres on a few deals. But they have to break the habit that so far seems endemic in the Sweeney Era and really take some time on deals rather than going for either the big splash or the so-called "quick fix".
Otherwise, they are going to get burned, spectacularly.
The rest of the NHL is already firing up the flamethrowers and liking their chances of feasting at the Bruins' expense right now. It's the perfect situation for a horrendous overpayment and a purchase that'll be too rich for the blood of fans and the Bruins' future alike.
Rarely has the phrase "buyer beware" had more urgency than it will over the next few weeks for Don Sweeney. He'd do well to remember that.