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Grading the McQuaid trade: A win on the books, a loss behind the scenes

The Bruins will feel Adam McQuaid's departure, but the trade is more good than bad.

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Among Bruins fans, Adam McQuaid was a bit of a polarizing figure. Plenty of fans loved him for his hard-nosed, selfless style of play. Others thought he was oft-injured, overpaid and replaceable when Kevan Miller became an NHL regular.

Where you stand on that spectrum is going to go a long way toward determining how you feel about today’s trade: either the Bruins lost a tough, character guy and are just getting softer and softer, or the Bruins got an asset for a player they no longer needed.

While I actually liked McQuaid as a player, the overall picture is pretty clear: the Bruins cleared cap space and moved a defenseman they can replace, acquiring at least one asset in return. For those reasons, the trade is a win for the Bruins.

McQuaid’s deal was going to expire after this season, and given their current situation on the blue line, it was far from a slam dunk that he’d remain in black and gold long term. His $2.75 million cap hit, while not the most cumbersome deal around, wasn’t exactly team-friendly.

There’s also the logjam on the back-end: with John Moore in the fold and the emergence of Matt Grzelcyk, the B’s simply had too many defensemen. Someone was going to go, and McQuaid was always among the most likely candidates.

By moving McQuaid to the New York Rangers, the Bruins free up a little more than $2 million in cap space. It remains to be seen if they use that space now to try to get forward help, or if they keep it in their back pocket for a mid-season acquisition. Either way, an extra $2 million to play with is a good asset to have.

They also acquired at least one draft pick, a fourth-rounder. I haven’t seen concrete confirmation, but I’m guessing the conditional seventh comes into play if McQuaid re-signs with the Rangers or plays a certain number of games.

At least one, maybe two, picks on the books, plus cleared cap space? Sign me up.

Steve Kampfer is kind of a throw-in in this deal. In all likelihood, he spends most of the season in Providence, if the Bruins don’t move him as well. If nothing else, he can be an emergency fill-in if the Bruins go through a rash of injuries.

However, as is the case with any trade, there’s a flip side to this one: while you may not have liked McQuaid as a player, there’s no denying his popularity in the locker room. Some people believe intangibles don’t exist, but there’s value in having a guy like McQuaid in your corner.

McQuaid is definitely a hockey player’s player: the first guy to come to your aid in a scrum, or throw himself in front of a shot. One of McQuaid’s last Bruins highlights crystallized his worth as a player, when he threw himself at a Toronto player to halt a breakaway, crashing headlong into the boards in the process.

While it’d be an overreaction to say that the Bruins’ locker room will be in tatters with McQuaid’s departure, his loss will certainly be felt. There was an old-school feel to McQuaid’s game, and while today’s NHL places less and less value on those attributes, they still mean a lot to the guys putting on the pads and skates.

While his intangibles, fisticuffs, and selfless play will be missed, this trade is a win overall for the Bruins.

Cleared cap space, acquired assets and increased flexibility trump the locker room presence going out the door.

Grade: A-


How would you grade the deal?

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