So! Trade Deadline’s over. Whatever trades snuck in before the time passed are now locked in, sealed in stone and amber. Let’s go over what the Bruins did, it’s not a terribly exhaustive list.
- Traded Vaakanainen, John Moore, and loads of picks for Ducks defender Hampus Lindholm, then signed him for 8 years at 6.5 million AAV
- Signed DeBrusk to a two-year extension worth $4mil AAV
- Traded Zach Senyshyn and a 5th for Josh Brown and a conditional 7th that maybe becomes a 6th.
So yeah, not a whole lot of movement other than the one big thing, so what can we gather from these three moves?
Doubling Down when you’re already really ahead
The Bruins defense prior to Lindholm’s acquisition was already stalwart, in spite of a fanbase’s desperate, ravenous, nearly psychosexual need for said defense to be as big and bulky as humanly possible. Per 60, no team gives up less shots, unblocked, quality or otherwise, than the Boston Bruins. Goals against? Not terrible either, coming in at 5th. The Bruins net-front may as well be a military exclusion zone. Regardless of all the short kings on the blueline, if you wanted a look at what elite defense in the NHL looks like at a team level, outside of maybe the Hurricanes or the Avalanche, I sincerely struggle with who else you’d go to for that kind of thing. Adding a Hampus Lindholm, who is generally really pretty good when he isnt babysitting a 19 year old, only adds to that, potentially bringing a top 5 defense into the top 2 if he manages to right his own ship
Defensive depth? Maybe a bit of a concern, however. It does feel kind of spooky whenever someone like Matt Grzelcyk had to take time off to be on the mend, in which the depth of the Bruins was often laid so very bare and so very nude for all to see, and it often didn’t impress. That seemed to be a running theme throughout this admittedly small sample of acquisitions; the defensive depth seemed to really matter to this team who are already very, very good at defending. While I don’t agree necessarily with giving Josh Brown any more than about 20 minutes of even-strength ice time over his entire career as a Bruin, I can definitely understand a need to maybe have a Forbort-lite, and a genuinely good defender who makes a tough to play Defense even harder to playm
So yeah, in all likelihood Lindholm gives them a shot in the arm to continue to face an Atlantic Division that definitely biased the other thing coming out of the deadline.
The awkward, but necessary reality of keeping Jake DeBrusk
Irrational Jake DeBrusk hatred is probably about to skyrocket for a player who otherwise has picked up his play dramatically after the disaster last season, and currently occupies a top 5 spot in Bruins goalscoring, just under Patrice Bergeron. The reason is that many fans wanted to see him move at this deadline, and well...he didn’t.
Is he having an analytically impressive season? Not really, but the urgency on this seemed to have been fairly tame, in spite of what a lot of fans wanted it to be. Players frustrated with their place in the lineup can either throw a public hissy fit, a very aggressive and honestly rather dangerous move, or they can go the diplomatic route. And yes, a request for a trade does count as the diplomatic route, because then they can talk it out and actually come to terms on something.
My best guess is this, if he does well in the playoffs/rest of the season, both sides can come to the table after the postseason ends to talk out how they want things to go, and he can be very easily flipped prior to the draft. And hey, if he picks it up and his underlyings improve? That’s found...or well...I guess money you already had. There’s not a good money analogy here other than “he got lower than the qualifying offer”, so take that for a W if you can.
Trust in the Youngs...for good and for ill.
It seems that guys like Oskar Steen, Anton Blidh, and Jack Studnicka will be getting extended looks in the depth, with the hope of Fabian Lysell maybe making his way back east after a successful run with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. The need for a winger was, at least in my opinion, not one-billionth as important as a center better than Erik Haula, but it was a need that could in fact be filled by the young phenom as soon as he gets here...whenever that happens. Given that the Giants are uh...
...lets be charitible and say unlikely to see the postseason, that could be sooner rather than later. And that could be a lot of fun, given the year he’s had!
Is it actually gonna be enough?
We just said the B’s are good at defense and have some of the best forwards in the game littering their top six, so they should be fine. After all...defense win championships, right?
Well, the thing about Defense Wins Championships as a concept is that you still have to be able to score. The best defense in the game can’t do much if the offense can’t cash in. The Bruins have largely been living off of the same four-five players as we’ve said ad-nauseum to run most of the possession and also scoring game for the team, and have been on the receiving end of multiple 100+ even-strength minute scoring droughts by teams who are both very good (The Lightning) and very lucky (The Islanders). Their middle six IS getting better, especially from Erik Haula and Charlie Coyle showing marked improvement...sometimes. Other times, Erik Haula get sent to the 4th line. Center still remains a bit of a concern.
If the points-pace holds, you’re going to have to run into the Carolina Hurricanes, one of the very few teams in the league who can match their defensive efforts, but also back it up with a ruthless scoring punch. And yes, they will be trotting out Boston’s favorite goalie to beat in clutch situations...he doesn’t have Boston’s favorite team to beat in clutch situations in front of him anymore; the Canes of 2021-22 aren’t the pretenders to the throne that they were previously in one critical area; they don’t let the pace of a game get dictated to them whatsoever. The last couple of meetings between these two teams should’ve made that clear. They’re gonna need to treat games like the one on Thursday and the Leafs game next Tuesday as playoff preludes to get this version of the B’s working as best as possible.
It’s up to the B’s to hold up their end of the bargain now
Regardless, the B’s are still a very, very good team, have very, very good goaltending, and are a top 5 team. They are absolutely making the playoffs, and they can hang with the best when playing at their best. From here on, it’s up to them, as well as their new defenders Hampus Lindholm and Josh Brown, to bring glory back to Boston.