When a player like Mark Stone becomes available on the trade market, all 30 NHL teams should be picking up the phone and calling the Ottawa Senators. Included in that group should be the Boston Bruins who are desperate for help in their top-six.
According to a new report by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Bruins will be going all-in on Stone if the Senators aren’t able to sign him.
This report comes as the Bruins are in the midst of a six-game win streak (three of which coming on the road) despite losing David Pastrnak to injury for upwards of two weeks.
The Bruins were already involved in numerous rumors and reports surrounding a variety of players from Vladimir Tarasenko and Artemi Panarin to Micheal Ferland, Charlie Coyle, Wayne Simmonds and more prior to the injury. The play of the team without Pastrnak (a four-game win streak that’s seen them outscore their opponents 26 to 15.
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With the team firing on all cylinders and showing what they can do with two glaring holes in their top six, the ideal situation for the Bruins would be to acquire a bonafide top-six winger who can score to help bolster the scoring of the entire lineup once Pastrnak is healthy.
This is where Stone comes into play.
Stone is a Bonafide Star
Since becoming a full-time NHL player in 2014-15 with the Senators, Stone has never scored fewer than 20 goals in a season. He’s also never recorded fewer than 54 points in a single year though he’s also reached 61 points or higher in four of his five seasons.
With 28 goals and 61 points in just 59 games this season, Stone is well on his way to having the best offensive campaign of his entire career. He’s well within reach of a 30-goal and 70-point season and could even push for more if put in the right situation.
With the Bruins having two bonafide top-six centers in Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, it really wouldn’t matter which line Stone would slide onto when the team is fully healthy.
The team could run their usual line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak with the second line featuring Jake DeBrusk, Krejci and Stone. Alternatively, the Bruins could use Pastrnak with Krejci and DeBrusk and use Stone with the consistently excellent duo of Bergeron and Marchand.
The reason why Stone on the team’s second line makes the most sense comes down to the fact that Stone is far more than just a point producer. While he’s always been a solid contributor offensively, his two-way game stands out as his most impressive trait.
Stone can Produce More than Just Offense
Just to put into context how good Stone is in all three zones, let’s compare him to the Bruins best right winger in Pastrnak.
Not only can Stone skate well and produce offensively with the best players in the NHL but he can also create opportunities for his team with and without the puck as well.
In his career, he’s had 489 takeaways to just 263 giveaways, including 88 to 54 this season alone. He’s also skated in over 20 minutes of ice time per game this season and is converting on a career-high 19.3% of his shots this season. That high shooting percentage shouldn’t be concerning to Bruins fans as his career average is 16.2%.
He picks his shots well and converts often.
Stone’s Future is Uncertain
What Bruins fans may be concerned with is Stone’s injury history and his pending unrestricted free agent status.
Though Stone has produced every single season of his career, the 26-year-old has also missed considerable time in each of the last two seasons including 11 games in 2016-17 and 24 games in 2017-18.
The injuries that he’s suffered don’t appear to have been anything too damaging as far as his ability to play a long and successful career is concerned, however, and his history shouldn’t give fans any reservations about his possible impact on the lineup.
As far as his contract goes, though, that’s the major red flag.
Stone is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of his current deal on July 1. With that, Stone can explore his options in free agency and ultimately decide whether or not he wants to re-sign in Boston or sign with another team who could potentially offer him more money or even a better-perceived opportunity at winning.
This wouldn’t be such a huge deal if Stone wasn’t likely to command a huge return on the trade market. The fact that the Bruins are in the same division as the Senators won’t help matters either given the fact that teams often don’t like to deal with the teams closest to them.
The Stanley Cup Window is Now
Still, the Bruins window to compete for a Stanley Cup is now as Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, Bergeron, Krejci and Marchand aren’t getting any younger. With a cupboard full of assets, the Bruins have what it takes to acquire someone like Stone.
Related: Bruins 2018-19 Prospect Pyramid
Ideally, they can get a deal done and lock him up for the long term, even if it comes at the cost of a package including players like Danton Heinen, Ryan Donato, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Trent Frederic or others.
Outside of Jake DeBrusk, Urho Vaakanainen and Jack Studnicka, the Bruins shouldn’t have any qualms about getting a deal done.
This would still leave an opening for the team’s third line center position, but that will be significantly easier and cheaper to fill than the hole that Stone would occupy.