Certain segments of Bruins Nation are upset.
Upset with Rask getting knocked out of Tuesday night’s game. Upset with opponents running Charlie McAvoy or Torey Krug or Matt Grzelcyk. And most of all, upset with the lack of response from Bruins teammates while all of this was happening.
Hot takes abound social media and the comments section of this website, calling this the softest team in Bruins history and screaming to bring in players like Ryan Reaves no matter the price.
Luckily, the fans don’t get to make the deals, and up until Tuesday night’s game, it appeared that the Bruins’ top brass thought this team was tough enough. Then Emil Bemstrom ‘inadvertently’ punched Rask in the head and then went largely unpunished.
The next day brought what could be interpreted as a sign of a shift in mentality, as Brett Ritchie, a player who was undoubtedly brought in to bring a physical and intimidating presence into the Bruins line-up, was waived.
If Bruins management has decided to forgo the status quo and bring in some toughness, they’re not without options. There are a number of players available that are currently playing on bad teams or who have expiring contracts that would fit into the Bruins’ salary cap situation without too much difficulty.
Below are some possible options if the Bruins want to get meaner:
Mark Borowiecki - Ottawa Senators - Defenseman
Yes, this is the same guy that sucker elbowed Urho Vaakanainen at the beginning of last year’s season...which may be exactly why he’d be a good fit.
Yes it was a cheap shot, there’s no denying it; however, he was doing his job: protecting the front of the net and, more importantly protecting his goalie (apparently he also fights crime as well).
Before you go off bashing this as a horrible idea, consider this: Borowiecki is proving this season that he is more than just a goon. As his TOI has increased to a career high this season, so has his offensive production (5 G, 11A, 16PTS, +3) and defensive abilities.
Is he a top defender in this league? No.
Can he fill a 3rd line pairing and add needed toughness? Yes.
Borowiecki is in the last year of a 2-year deal in Ottawa and has a remaining cap hit of just over $500,000. If the Bruins aren’t interested, I guarantee there will be other teams who are, and my guess is he moved by deadline day.
Wayne Simmonds - New Jersey Devils - Right Wing
Wayne Simmonds is a name that has been in Bruin trade rumors for what seems like forever.
Unfortunately, that’s a deal that should have been made several years ago, and not so much now. Simmonds is still as feisty as ever; however, a couple surgeries have slowed him down significantly over the last couple years.
Although Simmonds has played better over the last couple weeks, it’s probably safe to say that the Devils were expecting more from the veteran winger, which also means they’re probably going to be willing to deal him before the deadline.
Is Wayne Simmonds going to be the 2RW fans have been screaming for the last few years? Probably not, but he could add depth and toughness to the bottom six.
Simmonds signed a 1-year deal with the Devils in the off-season and has a remaining cap hit of just over 2 million dollars.
Kyle Clifford - Los Angeles Kings - Left Wing
The Kings are once again awful, so many teams will be calling them before the deadline to see who’s available. He ma not be the sexiest name of the possible Kings trade candidates, but a guy like Kyle Clifford may be the right fit for the Bruins.
Never shy to back away from a scrap or put his body on the line to help his team win, Clifford could bring an intense two-way game, which could help the Bruins when the games get tougher in the spring.
Clifford also brings more Stanley Cup pedigree to the Bruins from the two cups he earned with the Kings at the beginning of the decade.
Clifford is in the last year of a 5 year contract and has a remaining cap hit of just under 700k.
Brenden Dillon - San Jose Sharks - Defenseman
Brenden Dillon already has 150 hits this season, and we’re only a little more than halfway through.
He’s also been in 3 scraps this season and 30 over his 10-year career. Besides being willing to get physical when needed, Dillon is also a pretty decent defenseman. On a poor San Jose Sharks team, Dillon has decent possession numbers (CF% 51.8 FF% 51) and sucks up a fair amount of PK time each game.
Like Borowiecki, he’s not a top-4 defender, but could add some toughness as a 6th or 7th defenseman on the Bruins.
Dillon is also in the last year of 5-year contract and if the Sharks continue to struggle could be a viable trade option. He carries a remaining cap hit of 1.4 million.
Ryan Reaves - Vegas Golden Knights - Right Wing
I’ve got to include Reaves in this conversation because many Bruins fans have been clamoring for management to bring him to Boston.
Undoubtedly, Reaves is among the most intimidating figures in the league, and he would certainly deter opponents from running the Bruins stars.
However, this is something the whole league understands, which could make Reaves a hot commodity among teams looking to get tougher. In my opinion, this fan favorite in Las Vegas will probably re-sign in the off-season, but if he doesn’t and is traded, the price will probably be way too high for a guy who plays 9 minutes of hockey a night.
Reaves carries a manageable cap hit of $1, 193,000 for the rest of the year.
What about an internal candidate?
There is another name that fans have been calling for, one that wouldn’t cost the Bruins a thing: Trent Frederic.
As fans know, Frederic has been a bit of a beast down in the AHL this season, fighting on regular occasion and leading the league in PIMs. On top of his play this season in the AHL, he also won many fans over with his thorough beating of Brandon Tanev last season in his debut.
Frederic is not the most skilled player in the Bruins’ organization, but possesses an intensity and passion that many claim the Bruins are currently lacking. For me, before any moves are made to bring in toughness, looking internally, with a player like Frederic, should be the Bruins first option.
Is there someone out there that I missed that would be a good fit to bring in toughness? Let us know in the comments below!