Decisions ahead as trade deadline looms
I think it’s safe to bet Don Sweeney will make a trade. How big of a trade remains to be seen.
With the NHL’s trade deadline 11 days away, we are soon going to find out what Sweeney thinks about the makeup of the Boston Bruins, and whether or not he’s willing to risk some of the future on it.
With or without David Pastrnak in the lineup, the Bruins need help at the right wing and center positions. Despite the rejuvenated Danton Heinen of late, the two have been the Bruins biggest issues this season.
Whether they’re truly available or not, the names being floated out there as available players are names that can help a Bruins team that is lacking consistent secondary scoring. It’s hard to see one single player coming into Boston and helping the Bruins catch the division leading Tampa Bay Lightning. But locking in the second playoff spot in the Atlantic is a different story.
Names like Artemi Panarin, Mark Stone, Wayne Simmonds, Jakob Silfverberg, Matt Duchene and several others would provide the Bruins with an offensive upgrade.
When Sweeney and company sit down and iron out their plan, there are several factors that are assumingly causing much debate inside the Bruins offices on Causeway Street.
The Bruins core of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara are not getting any younger. I leave Brad Marchand off this list because of his age. With that in mind, how close to closing is the winning a championship with this core window?
Take a look at the Blackhawks for example.
Players like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have, or will, reportedly be asked to waive their no-movement clauses. Two guys who have been massive parts of a Blackhawks core that provided the franchise with three Stanley Cups in six years. Asking these two defensive staples to waive their no movement clauses is a sign of the Blackhawks realizing their window with this same core has closed.
The Bruins window may be next.
With 53 points in 41 games, Bergeron is having one of his best seasons as a Bruin, but how much longer can he continue to be Mr. Perfect? Krejci is on pace to finish with one of his three highest point totals of his Bruins career, but his last few seasons haven't been up to par. Zdeno Chara is 41 and is continuing to log big minutes on the Bruins backend, while Tuukka Rask is, well, Tuukka Rask.
For Sweeney and company, if you think you can go for it, you have to ask at what cost. The Bruins can go out and trade for Panarian if they want, but will Sweeney be willing to move the pieces that it will take to land the star forward?
Any trade for Panarian will cost the Bruins their first round pick as a starter, something Sweeney is hesitant to move after last season. Sweeney and the Bruins lost their first round pick this past June when they traded for Rick Nash last February. Maybe part of it was Nash not panning out in Boston, but not having the pick really hurt Sweeney at the draft.
“It hurts. It stings from a projection, from a planning standpoint, there’s no question it impacts your organization,” Sweeney said last May after the Bruins were eliminated by the Lightning. “So, I don’t think it’s in your best interest to do it repeatedly.”
The biggest question any team trading for Panarian is figuring out if it’s worth moving picks, players, and prospects for a player who has been pretty open about wanting to test free agency once his contract expires this summer.
Whether it’s for Panarian, or someone else, the Bruins have several prospects they can move. However, the issue there is almost all of those prospects have lost value this season.
Youngsters like Ryan Donato, Anders Bjork and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson have struggled at the NHL level, hurting their value on the trade market. Urho Vaakanainen is an interesting name, but he’s battled injuries for most of his first year playing North American hockey, something that will certainly scare other general managers.
Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Jakob Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon are all options as well, but are not the high profile prospects other teams may have to offer. But in any deal for Panarian, I would think it would be a first round pick and two of the above mentioned to get the needle moving.
I wouldn’t sleep on the Bruins moving a piece from their backend either. A much improved Brandon Carlo and term-friendly Matt Grzelcyk could be intriguing options for a team that needs an upgrade on the defensive end.
Much like last season, if the Bruins are to make it anywhere in the playoffs, they’re going to have to get past the Lightning at some point. Last year’s series with Tampa Bay exposed the Bruins flaws, more specifically on offense as the Bruins struggled with secondary scoring throughout the series. A problem the Bruins still face today.
Sweeney knows the Bruins have problems offensively and knows they need to be addressed, but I don’t have faith in Sweeney when it comes to making a splash. Sweeney was timid before pulling the trigger on the Nash trade last season. I would assume that getting burnt on that one won’t help the cause.
Sweeney is a smart guy, —Harvard grad, duh—there’s no denying that. But when it comes to what to do with this current roster, he needs to make the smart move for the 2018-19 Bruins, and the smart move for the organization's future.
With 11 days to go before the deadline hits, I am not too sure Sweeney and company know what the smart move truly is just yet.
Frankly, I am not sure anyone does