The trade deadline is coming up, and now is the time for the Bruins’ management to act.
The Bruins, at or near the top of the NHL standings depending on the day, need to make not one, but several moves at the trade deadline if they want to be lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup at the end of the 2019-20 NHL season.
“BUT HEY,” you say as a SCOC reader who pays attention. “Weren’t you the guy who said the Bruins should stand pat at the deadline a few weeks ago?”
Yup, I sure did...but I’ve changed my mind.
The Bruins absolutely need to be buyers at the deadline for the following reasons:
The Bruins are not tough enough
Even though the Bruins have shown some fight in recent games against the Penguins and Jets, they are not tough enough to beat the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Final this spring.
Yes, the Capitals lost in the first round of the playoffs last year, but that’s not happening again this year. Remember when the Bruins won the Cup in 2011 and then lost in the 1st round the following year?
If so, then you probably also remember how the Bruins did in 2013. I expect the Caps to do the same thing this year. The Caps are primed for a long playoff run, and in order for the Bruins to make it back to the Cup Final, they could very likely have to go through Washington to get there.
But didn’t the Bruins spank the Caps the last time they played, winning by a 7-3 score?
Yes, but the Capitals showed their physical dominance by injuring Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy, plus laying a thumping on a number of other Bruins.
While you can deal with that over the course of a game, a physical beating like that will take its toll over the course of a 7-game series.
The Bruins are still predominantly a one-line team
The top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak account for 45% of all Bruins goals this season. While Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci have found their scoring touch lately, far too often this team has relied on that the top trio to provide offense.
Everyone knows the Bruins need a 2RW for Krejci’s line; however, they also need consistent scoring from the bottom six if they’re going to contend for the Stanley Cup this year.
If you look at scoring depth among some of the current cup contenders, the Caps have 8 players with 10 or more goals, the Lightning have 7 , the Pens have 8, and the Blues have 7. The Bruins have just 6 guys.
Bringing in a legit 3rd-line winger to play with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle would immediately provide the Bruins with needed depth for a deep cup run.
Hey Buffalo, can we have Marcus Johansson back?
The Bruins defense is not deep enough
The Bruins’ defense is obviously good. Zdeno Chara and McAvoy are a top pairing, Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo complement each other perfectly.
The Bruins’ third pairing of Matt Grzelcyk and “Fill in the Blank” is where the problem lies. To some Bruins fans, Grzelcyk has taken a small step back from last year’s breakout season in Boston. Across the board, Gryz’s stats say the opposite, but this has not appeased Bruins fans and has many worried about the Bruins’ final pairing.
On Grzelcyk’s opposite side has been a carousel of D partners this year, including John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Connor Clifton, Urho Vaakanainen, and most recently, Jeremy Lauzon, who may end up being the answer on the the 3rd pairing if a deal is not made before February 24th.
In addition, as previous years have shown, having extra depth on defense is always a good idea when entering the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Are the Bruins good enough with guy like Kampfer or Clifton being your best back-up plan, when a dman gets injured?
The window is closing on this Bruins’ core.
I’m not a big fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but one thing I admire about their management is that they ‘go for it’ every season.
They know that they have two of the best players in NHL history in their line-up, which gives them the chance to win every season. As a result, their management, regardless of severely handicapping their prospect pool, makes deals every deadline season to make their team as competitive as possible.
The Bruins are in a similar situation as the Pens. They have a once-in-a-lifetime core of players. Chara, Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand, and Rask are all elite players, who are all in the later stages of their careers.
Although some of the names above are putting up career bests over the last couple years, there will be a time in the not too distant future where their play declines quickly.
So the Bruins’ management needs to pull a Pittsburgh Penguins-type of move: they need to sacrifice the future for the present.
Now is the Bruins’ best chance to win a Cup. In a few years, I believe the Bruins will be in full rebuild mode and a long way from Cup contention. For the fans who stuck with this team for the 39 years prior to the 2011 season and endured two tough Final losses afterwards, management needs to do everything it can to win right now, before the window does finally close on this group of players.
So who do the Bruins trade for before the February 24th deadline?
There are lots of names being thrown around, guys like Chris Kreider, Tyler Toffoli, and Kyle Palmieri to name a few. There will inevitably be some unexpected names that suddenly become available as well.
Don Sweeney and Co. have their hands full trying to make a move or two in a very competitive market, and prices will undoubtedly be high.
But if they can’t make a significant deal, the Bruins’ season could figuratively end on deadline day.