The Boston Bruins decided not to make a blockbuster deal at the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline. Last season, they went big on a move to bring Rick Nash to Boston, but in hindsight, that was not the best decision. General manager Don Sweeney has learned from past mistakes and opted for a different approach this time around.
Despite rumours that the Bruins were in on the Wayne Simmonds or Mark Stone trades, they instead opted for Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. While that may be disappointing to some, those moves are exactly what the Bruins need as they enter the final stretch of the regular season.
Coyle Solidifies Third Line
When the Bruins traded for Coyle, the immediate reaction was that they needed to add more. The team has relied on the success of their top line for most of the season but something needed to change with Pastrnak out of the lineup.
Coyle improves the third line, something that the Bruins desperately needed. He has 28 points in 61 games this season and immediately provides a boost to the bottom-six. While Ryan Donato may seem like a steep price to pay, the jury is still out on how valuable he will be in the NHL.
Coyle helps the Bruins become a better team right now and the value of that cannot be overlooked. It is impossible to know how Donato’s career will turn out, but for the time being, this trade makes sense for the Bruins in their quest for another Stanley Cup.
Coyle, along with Johansson, creates options. Head coach Bruce Cassidy has stated that while he plans for Coyle to be the team’s third-line center, he could also be moved to play on the wing if necessary. He also referenced Coyle’s combination of size and skill as a reason why he would fit in well in Boston.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Coyle fits the stereotype of a Bruins forward. In fact, he actually fits the build better than Wayne Simmonds, who is 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. He also brings a physical presence with a touch of skill, and is more than just a rental player.
Johansson Fits Multiple Roles
Marcus Johansson may not be the winger that many were hoping for, but he is exactly what the Bruins need. For the moment, he is slated to play on the right wing alongside Jake Debrusk and David Krejci on the second line. Once David Pastrnak returns to the lineup, Johansson will likely be bumped from the second line to the third alongside Coyle and Backes.
However, like Coyle, Johansson is also able to play multiple positions. Cassidy stated that while he will be primarily a left winger, he has the ability to play any forward position and noted that he was drafted as a center. While his 28 points this season might not catch your eye, he has the ability to play on either wing and is just two seasons removed from scoring 24 goals with the Washington Capitals.
Despite the logjam of wingers available, Johansson could still see some playing time on the power play. He had registered nine points with a man advantage this season with the Devils, but 96 of his 332 career points have come on the power play, with a career-best of 21 during the 2013-14 season.
The Bruins also signed veteran forward Lee Stempniak. While it is unlikely that he sees much time in a Bruins jersey, it gives the team a safety net in case of injuries or a chance to rest some players down the stretch. He last played in the NHL as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, recording 9 points in 37 games last season. This is Stempniak’s second stint with the Bruins, having played 19 games with the team during the 2015-16 season.
By making a few smaller deals at the deadline, the Bruins put themselves in a position to compete this year without jeopardizing the future. It may not be exciting, but it was the right choice.
Covering the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. Graduated from Brock University’s Sport Management program in 2018. Also writes for Bench Life Sports.