BSC’s Bruins’ Mailbag: DeBrusk Trade, Tarasenko, Panarin & More

It’s mailbag time!

With the trade deadline right around the corner, rumors and reports are ramping up. With the Bruins in a position of need and heading into deadline season as obvious buyers, it’s clearly created a lot of questions among fans and media alike.

The Bruins will have to answer those questions with their actions in the coming weeks but I’ll do my best to answer them in the meantime.

Let’s get into the questions.

“If It Takes Including Debrusk as Part of the Package to Get a Guy Like Panarin, Would You Do It? My Instinct Says to Try Pasta on That Line First” (Cut68 via Twitter)

I consider Jake DeBrusk untouchable as far as trades go. I’ve mentioned it before but I I think trading DeBrusk for an upgrade in the top-six would just open another hole without doing much for the team in the long-term.

Jake DeBrusk
TORONTO, ON – APRIL 23: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins sets for a face-off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on April 23, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

A player like Panarin is a very interesting option at the trade deadline but any deal for him will undoubtedly cost more than teams would like to send for a rental. If a team can guarantee that Panarin will remain on the team for the long-term, such a deal is easier to stomach.

Unfortunately, an extension for Panarin then creates questions in itself given how expensive it will be.

Artemi Panarin Blue Jackets
Sonny Milano could have a future golden opportunity depending on what happens to Artemi Panarin. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Panarin is in line for a huge contract extension. For good reason, too.

By trading a player like DeBrusk, though, the Bruins are not only creating a different hole, they’d also be putting themselves in a different hole financially. This isn’t to say the team shouldn’t try and acquire Panarin as he could be exactly what the team needs.

That said, DeBrusk should not be included in these discussions; if a deal falls through because he’s required for it to work, then the Bruins should comfortably move on to the next option.

I agree with using Pastrnak on the second line to try and open scoring up and down the lineup if that’s what it takes. I’ve been for that all season and I think the team is running out of time before they essentially have to make a trade despite the Pastrnak option never being fully explored.

“Who Would You Feel Comfortable Parting With at the Deadline?” (AlexLaManna via Twitter)

If the Bruins are going to go all in this season, they’ll have to do so at the expense of some of their valuable assets that general manager Don Sweeney has accumulated since taking the job, both by inheriting them from Peter Chiarelli’s regime or from his own time as general manager.

Players like David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, DeBrusk and Urho Vaakanainen should be considered the most valuable with Jack Studnicka right there at the top.

Bruins right wing David Pastrnak
Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)

A slight step below those players as far as value goes would likely be Trent Frederic, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Zachary Senyshyn and Peter Cehlarik. Danton Heinen probably falls somewhere in that second range as well despite having a very successful rookie campaign.

I’m omitting Anders Bjork because I still think he has a lot of potential but his value is at an all-time low and it would be senseless to move him right now.

As far as trades go, the players I’d be comfortable moving on from for a legitimate scoring winger (ideally a younger one with term) would be Forsbacka Karlsson, Zboril, Lauzon, Cehlarik or even Heinen if the right deal presents itself.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson - Bruins
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Boston Bruins, September 17, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

To clarify, I don’t think the Bruins need to move any of those players just to make a move. If they have a chance at a legitimate star and can put a package together including any of those players, I think they have to at least consider it.

They have a slew of depth at left wing and at left-handed defense. The team needs a center and right-wing players and prospects. A trade just makes sense from a log-jam perspective; now we have to see if they can find a suitable trade partner.

“Should the Bruins Buy Low on a Player Struggling at His Club or Pony up and Pay the Piper for a Panarin or Tarasenko #AskBSC” (Rob40Bruins via Twitter)

I’m sensing a trend based on the first three questions today.

If the Bruins want to compete for a Stanley Cup this season, something they have to seriously consider given the fact that Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask aren’t getting any younger, they’ll probably need to make a bigger splash.

Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers
Jesse Puljujarvi (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Buying low on a struggling player like Jesse Puljujarvi is a good option but it doesn’t necessarily move the needle this season. Unlike the New England Patriots, Josh Gordon isn’t going to just be walking through the door for the Bruins when they need him most.

A trade for a player like Panarin or Vladimir Tarasenko would undoubtedly move the needle and would give the Bruins one of the best top-six units in the entire NHL. There’s no question about that. What there is a question about, however, is the cost and how it would affect the Bruins moving forward in terms of assets and salary cap.

Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues, January 6, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As I mentioned earlier, Panarin will command a huge contract in the offseason. He’s absolutely worth it and if the Bruins swing for a deal involving him, they’d have to work hard to re-sign him. Tarasenko on the other hand already carries a $7.5 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season which is right around where his value should be.

When it comes to competing for a Stanley Cup and filling a position of need from a cupboard full of prospects, the Bruins will have to decide if they do want to move some of their more valuable assets. That includes players like Vaakanainen and Studnicka, as well as their 2019 first-round pick.

Artemi Panarin Blue Jackets
Sonny Milano could have a future golden opportunity depending on what happens to Artemi Panarin. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

I’m a big fan of Tarasenko and Panarin. One comes with higher upside but more uncertainty as far as the future is concerned (Panarin) while one comes with a safer future and very high upside all the same. Both would be excellent additions for the present and the long-term.

“Why Don’t the Bruins Go After Tyler Toffoli? Has a Year Left on His Deal” (Jay Ouimet via Twitter)

Toffoli is definitely someone the Bruins should consider if they want a proven right-winger who can score in the regular season and has had relative success in the postseason in the past.

At 26 years old, Toffoli offers a lot of value given his cap hit and ability to score 30 goals, though he’s only done so one time in 2015-16.

Los Angeles Kings Tyler Toffoli
Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Toffoli is actually struggling this season with only eight goals and 20 points in 50 games. His value can’t be as high as it would have been a season ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s low by any stretch of the imagination. Anytime a player trades away a 26-year-old with a team-friendly contract that includes another season at $4.6 million, they’ll be looking for a very good return.

If the Bruins strike out on a deal for a player like Tarasenko or Panarin or find the value better in a deal for Toffoli, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up as the big deadline addition.

Rapid Fire Questions

“Did Trent Frederic Impress in His Debut and Do You See Him Sticking Around Long Term?” (RichieT_FTW via Twitter)

I think Frederic did everything he was asked to do in his debut.

He skated in just over eight minutes of ice time, took two shots on net, laid out two hits, won 57.1% of his faceoffs and even had a fight.

Trent Frederic - Bruins
Trent Frederic, Boston Bruins, September 17, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Obviously it’s a small sample size and it means close to nothing, especially when considering he started 71.4% of his even-strength shifts in the offensive zone, but Frederic also sported a ridiculous 76.9% Corsi-For% and a 20.2 Relative Corsi-For%

I think he’s certainly earned himself a longer look with the team after one game but it’s too soon to say whether or not he’ll stick around for the long-term. His play could ultimately decide whether or not the Bruins go out and trade for an upgrade at center for a postseason push.

“Is Don Sweeney the General Manager the Right Person to Run the Ship or Is He Better Suited in Player Development?” (Sun2Skis via Twitter)

This is a fair question for any general manager in the NHL. Are they the right person for the job or is there someone better out there who could do it better?

While it may seem like Sweeney has fumbled the ball in a few situations, it’s also fair to say that he put himself and the Bruins in a position to succeed on multiple occasions.

Don Sweeney Bruins
Don Sweeney, Boston Bruins, 2018 NHL Draft, Dallas, TX, June 22, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When Sweeney took over the role as general manager, he inherited a team with few to no prospects, an aging core and a severe salary cap problem that looked destined for mediocrity.

Fast-forward a few seasons and the Bruins are legitimate contenders for a Stanley Cup with a fresh set of faces on the roster and in the pipeline without a cap issue to speak of.

There’s always room for improvement and Sweeney has been far from perfect. At the same time, he’s earned himself a little breathing room for the immediate future in his current role before we talk about him going back to simply developing players.

“More Likely, Tarasenko or Panarin” (Bos_Sports1 via Twitter)

Both have been linked to the Bruins in the past. I’d say Panarin is more likely to be moved by the trade deadline so he’s the safe answer here. Still, I’d say Tarasenko is the more likely option for the Bruins.