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The Bruins need a 2nd line center. Who should they go get, what do they have to do it with, and why

There’s a clear deficiency that the Bruins have neglected to address, and now is the best time to do it.

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

With the Trade deadline in just under two weeks, the Bruins are assuredly trying to take stock of their roster situation and their place in the standings. Barring the kind of collapse that only happens in the minds of the most feverish of fans after the B’s drop their 2nd game in five days, there is almost no opportunity for the B’s to miss the playoffs this year and run screaming into the jaws of either the Lightning, or the Panthers because the hockey gods have made it loud and clear that fate is a lie you tell yourself to make the days seem less like randomly assigned tasks. And as a result of that fact, they should use this opportunity to address a long-standing issue that has gone unaddressed long enough, an issue that has plagued fans for far too long.

That’s right, the Bruins should be throwing everything at their disposal behind the immediate acquisition of a 2nd line center.

Why should the Bruins go after a 2nd line Center?

I mean, I think those couple weeks of having games where there was no Bergeron and no Marchand sort of settled why this might be an issue, no?

For those who haven’t been able to keep up with the games, the Bruins ran into a problem where their entire lineup as previously stated in a recap is built like a Rube Goldberg Machine: lots of bits and bobs held together by several major structural elements that is designed to (hopefully) produce NHL wins. Those structural elements are Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, McAvoy, and also probably Taylor Hall, but you could easily swap him for Matt Grzelcyk depending on how you feel.

Fact is, that’s a very short list of guys who already get a ton of ice time. Losing two of them in a single game exposed massive structural flaws in the center depth of the Bruins; Erik Haula and Charlie Coyle, while capable and definitely playing better than when this article started, they’re really only a temporary candidate for 2nd line center at this level of play, and the inability to wring more goals and good possession performances out of them has hamstrung the team just as much as defensive brainfarts and goalie teething troubles have, if not more, throughout this season. That’s why it is imperative for Don Sweeney to improve at Center by any way he can.

Well I think they should go get a defensema-

Okay, hang on...I know why you think this, and I sympathize with most of the thought processes that might lead you to this conclusion.

However, the numbers simply do not add up for that to be a viable option.

See, as previously stated, at a systems level, the Bruins are doing at the very least okay to pretty damn good when it comes to the way their defenders handle things. They have some real headache-inducing traits, and I generally agree that at some point they need to make a hard upgrade at some point to their top 4...

...You’re probably not going to be able to do it this deadline.

While a big boy, Jakob Chychrun isn’t really a major improvement on any Bruins player currently on the roster aside from maybe Connor Clifton (though right now the actual differences between them in terms of on-ice impact are...difficult to parse), Ben Chairot is a reckless non-option only built for the kind of team dumb enough to think “toughness” is something you can just install into a team like a piece of software, Ristolainen is the NHL hockey equivalent of sudden onset mudbutt and should be avoided at all costs, Giordano and Klingberg will likely be expensive choices for little return on investment, and your next best bet is then who, Calvin De Haan? There just isn’t a target here that could improve this team in any meaningful fashion that doesn’t end with the team actively better. Just different.

In short, it’s a fanbase scrounging for junk food. At any time of the year, don’t scrounge for junk food.

So let’s not focus this year on fixing something you probably can’t fix now, and instead try to fix something they absolutely can.

Alright, what do they have to work with?

Believe it or not? Something.

Before for you go “but they might not have the Capspace to bring one in from that!”, they can find extra. Tampa does and can, so did Vegas, so did Toronto, so will any other teams. Don Sweeney can find it. That’s exactly the kind of money you can make work for you if you’re smart enough. The cap isn’t real, you just have to take the steps to unreal it.

So let’s take a look at the list of guys who could theoretically be on the block.

JT Miller, Vancouver Canucks - Center

Why is he on the trade block?

The Canucks are in a weird place. They unquestionably got better after hiring Boudreau but they’re also full of dead weight from the previous GM’s reign of...well, terror is the wrong word. More like reign of confused incompetence. Making the Canucks better for tomorrow has to start with sloughing off some of the fat of today.

Miller meanwhile feels like the perfect contract to move out in spite of the fact that he’s...kind of been their first line center for weeks at this rate. They need that cap flexibility badly, and if it’s gotta come from losing a guy like JT, then they’re probably gonna have to do it to him or to Brock Boeser.

Thanks, Jim!

What’s his impact like under the hood?

JT Miller is an offense first kind of player who traditionally hasn’t played a lot of good defense throughout his career. He is, ironically, the perfect compliment to a Taylor Hall type player who could probably use a second shooter to diversify his playmaking as opposed to “not even entertain Haula as an option because he’s either already tied up or way behind the play”.

Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks - Center

Why is he on the trade block?

It’s not necessarily that he or the Sharks want him to be there, but it’s more a matter of the agony of some offseason and then very in-season issues that has been inflicted on both parties.

See, Tomas Hertl likes San Jose, and San Jose likes him, but he’s probably due for a big raise at the end of the year and the Sharks really don’t have a lot of space for that. Even after the Evander Kane saga ended for the Sharks, there’s a whole contract termination grievance that needs to be sorted out for the Sharks in order for them to have even a prayer of getting him under the cap...and Hertl doesn’t know if that’s gonna happen before or after the deadline. Everything now hangs in the balance for both sides as they try to figure out their futures together.

What’s his impact like under the hood?

Pretty Good! You should have players like Tomas Hertl on your team whenever possible!

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers - Center

Why is he on the trade block?

I mean, have you seen the Flyers, lately?

What’s his impact like under the hood?

Really the most aggravating part of the Flyers is that Claude Giroux has been trying just as hard as Sean Couturier has in dragging that team to success and the brain trust in charge simply cannot do something with a player as talented as this.

Like do you f#*k this up to the point he’s seriously considered leaving!? Just unreal mismanagement on behalf of the Flyers. That organization should be under permanent cap penalties until they can find someone smart to run it.

Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators - Wing/Center

Why is he on the trade block?

First of all, he does have Center experience, so I have decided to include him here. It’s been awhile and I cop to that, but he is, very technically, an option.

Anyway! Why he’s avaiable. The thing about the Preds is that while they’re surging quite a bit, they’re still kind of figuring out whether or not they’re actually going to be this good again next year. Are they overachieving? Are they actually rebounding in a good way? It’s a little tough for an organization set to possibly pay Forsberg quite a lot of cash. A Forsberg rental would be a sign that the B’s don’t see their shaky start as an issue, and could make them a nightmare to play against.

What’s his impact like under the hood?

Hey here’s some free advice for David Poile, go rob the Pred’s owner at knifepoint and pay Filip whatever shakes out of their wallet, because you SUPER don’t wanna lose this kinda player.

What would it take to get any of them?

There are at least three major pieces the Bruins can use in any scenario to make a trade happen.

Their first round pick.

I know, I know. Believe me, I know. At some point they need to start making some actual moves toward the next generation of B’s. But right now, while they still have Bergeron and Marchand and Pasta and Hall, they’re not exactly in the position where their first round pick is as valuable as you might think.

Assuming the current pace for the B’s holds, they’re either going to be sitting pretty with the third spot in the Atlantic, or the first wildcard spot. Now ordinarily that isn’t too bad a spot when it translates to draft capital, but it does kick them straight out of the top 10, and while yes I think there are some intriguing names to watch in that part of the draft, every position of worth to them (Center, Left D) will almost certainly be gone by the time they pick in the first round...or aren’t in the first round at all.

As much as many fans would prefer to rip the band-aid off (or practice hasty civil war-era medicine) when it comes to the team so they don’t get emotionally hurt again, there’s more value in losing this pick right now than in keeping it.

And for my final point, I am going to ask you a question you really shouldn’t answer in the comments. Just think about it very carefully and decide inside your own head.

If it comes to you trust Don Sweeney to retool the Bruins?

Jake DeBrusk

With the team now finally getting that secondary scoring they so desire (for now anyway), there’s always the unpleasant question of what exactly you do with Jake DeBrusk.

DeBrusk actually sort of started this little surge of scoring after months of frustration to the point that the fanbase was probably ready to send him out regardless of whether or not the Bruins had a partner to trade with at all...and now they’re in a bit of a bind. See, even for the eccentricities of his game, he’s still uh... goal behind Patrice Bergeron. If he scores tonight, it’ll put him in the top 3 of Bruins goalscoring. Cool cool cool cool cool.

Assuming reports of him and his agent staying the course on DeBrusk wanting out of Boston are still up-to-date with how Jake is feeling, then a player who has otherwise rebounded from a nightmare prior season and is playing pretty dang well could be a very attractive trade chip of any one of the major sellers at this year’s deadline.

While he’s not exactly lighting the world on fire, he’s doing plenty enough to keep himself noticeable and motivated, and that’s exactly the kind of player you want to have as a chip.

Some intriguing prospects...just not Fabian Lysell

I KNOW I KNOW. I am not suggesting that the Bruins move Lysell so soon after drafting him, especially after the year he’s been having with the Giants out in Vancouver. He is far more valuable as a Bruin than he is as anything like a trade chip. He is not an asset worth moving.

Guys like Mason Lohrei on the other hand?...Well, maybe?

The B’s prospect system isn’t currently one of the better ones. That means that pretty much any non-Lysell prospect that they have their hands on should be considered worth moving. Package them together, use some of the late round picks, anything like that to sweeten the pot. It’s a buyer’s market thanks to The Thing What Upended Reality™.

Obviously I don’t have a crystal ball so I cannot predict the future. I totally understand if Don Sweeney thinks it’s easier to get players like Andrew Copp or Calle Jarnkrok and I definitely think that whoever they slot in next to Hall and Pastrnak will succeed, but I would hope that he recognizes that the B’s are rapidly running out of space to make something funny like a few playoff wins happen, so I really hope, for everybody’s sake, he sees the light and tries to swing for the fences on this.

There’s a future for this team.

And it starts with an actual 2C.