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Bruins place forward on waivers, sign another

February 19, 2024, 8:23 AM ET [18 Comments]
Ty Anderson
Boston Bruins Blogger •Bruins Feature Columnist • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Bruins, even before their recent slump that's seen them earn just one win and four points in six games since the All-Star break, were a team in need of some help.

But with a cupboard short on trade capital and even less cap space, B's general manager Don Sweeney has to get creative and exhaust every single internal option before taking a dive into the forever-overpriced trade market.

Sunday saw the Black and Gold's latest attempt at that, with forward Oskar Steen placed on waivers and the P-Bruins' Justin Brazeau signed to a standard NHL contract.

Steen's move to the waiver wire comes after over three months with the big club, and after the Bruins scratched Steen in Saturday's overtime loss to the Kings.

In action for 34 games this season, the 25-year-old Steen had recorded one goal, 19 blocked shots, and 79 hits while averaging 9:04 per game for the Black and Gold this season. Prior to this move, Steen had been a consistent part of Boston’s revolving door of fourth-line wingers post-Milan Lucic, rotating with Jakub Lauko, Jesper Boqvist, and Johnny Beecher among others, from Patrick Brown to Georgii Merkulov.

Steen’s offensive struggles weren’t all that surprising given his limited usage and the typical fourth-line deployment from the Bruins (an awful lot of defensive-zone work), but it was statistically speaking, the worst in the NHL.

One of 580 NHL players to play at least 30 games this season, Steen’s single point ranked dead last among that group of 580. Steen is also one of just two forwards (and just four players in total) in the NHL this season to play at least 300 five-on-five minutes and not record multiple points.

Steen was also coming off back-to-back outings where he was given less than eight minutes of time on ice for the first time in almost a month, and his Feb. 13 outing against the Kraken was also a true ‘nothing’ kind of performance, with zero hits, zero blocks, and just one shot in 7:51 of play.

In the final year of a deal that comes with an $800,000 cap hit, Steen would need to appear in another 20 NHL games between now and the end of the regular season for Steen to remain an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent. If that does not happen, the 5-foot-10 Steen will be a Group 6 unrestricted free agent this summer.

Brazeau, meanwhile, has turned his minors-only contract into a two-year NHL deal, with a $775,000 cap hit for the remainder of this season and the 2024-25 season.

Down in Providence, Brazeau has posted a career-high 18 goals and plus-24 rating through 49 games this season, while his 37 points are just eight points away from matching last year’s career-high of 45 in 67 games.

Brazeau’s 18 goals with the P-Bruins are tied with Georgii Merkulov for the second-most among all Providence skaters (Anthony Richard leads the team with 19 goals), while his 37 points are the fourth-most on the team behind Merkulov (44), Fabian Lysell (40), and Richard (38).

When it comes to Brazeau, the first thing that pops off the page is his size.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Brazeau immediately becomes the biggest forward in the B’s organization.

Considered a project when the Bruins first signed him, ‘skating’ was the biggest knock on Brazeau, according to those I talked with regarding the intriguing prospect. But by now, it’s clear that the Bruins have seen enough progress in that department to feel that Brazeau could be an effective NHLer.

It’s only fair to assume that — even with those statistical improvements — they wouldn’t have converted his deal to a standard, NHL contract had they not been satisfied with those developments this season.

It’ll also be interesting to see just how quickly the Bruins get the 26-year-old up to Boston for a look.

Unless the Bruins got word that another team was going to sign Brazeau to an NHL contract had the Bruins not done so first, it stands to reason that the Bruins signed Brazeau when they did so that they could get him up to Boston for an NHL run. Boston’s decision to put Steen on waivers on Sunday, especially with Jakub Lauko currently dealing with an upper-body injury and a questionable status for Monday, only adds to that belief.

Brazeau would also fit a potential (or glaring, depending on who you ask) need for a space-creating, big-bodied wing who throw his weight around and answer the bell in the Black and Gold’s bottom-six forward group.

This has been a need for the Bruins since they lost Milan Lucic to an injury and a domestic violence incident that will keep him away from the club for the rest of the season, really. And while Brazeau is not of the Lucic mold as a heavyweight fighter (Brazeau uses his frame and size as a physical threat more than his fists), he does allow the Bruins to go back to a fourth-line look that’s more speedster-speedster-bruiser, which was Jim Montgomery’s ideal mix when he created the effective Lucic-Beecher-Lauko line to start the 2023-24 season.

Brazeau, who spent time in the Maple Leafs organization before coming over to the Bruins, has recorded 49 goals and 113 points in 167 games with Providence over the last three seasons.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has been covering the Bruins since 2010, and has been a member of the Boston chapter of the PHWA since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, HockeyBuzz.com or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter/X: @_TyAnderson.
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