You win some and you lose some.
When it comes to the Sabres acquiring Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes, the Bruins appear to be losers in the deal in more ways than one.
For starters, the Bruins missed out on a versatile forward who can produce upwards of 30 goals and 60 points and who would immediately bolster the team’s top-six for the 2018-19 season. Premier forwards like Skinner don’t come available every day and when they do, the cost is usually significant.
In the last three seasons, Skinner has scored 28, 37 and 24 goals respectively. He’s eclipsed the 30-goal mark three times in his career and the 20-goal mark another three times in his eight seasons in the league. Though there has been an injury-prone narrative that has followed Skinner throughout his career – to get ahead of that, he’s played in a total of 391 out of a possible 410 games since 2013-14 and 320 out of 328 over the last four seasons. He isn’t injury prone.
Another way the team loses in this situation is the fact that Skinner was traded to a team in the Atlantic Division, bolstering the Bruins’ opposition in the process.
What might be most disappointing in such a deal is the fact that the cost for Skinner was relatively low and seemingly could have easily been beaten by the Bruins had they put together an offer. Obviously, we don’t know what happens behind closed doors and we aren’t privy to discussions that happen between general managers, but it’s disappointing to see the Bruins let Skinner slip through their fingers here given his potential.
Why Did the Bruins Miss?
There are a few factors to consider here if you’re the Bruins, though, as Skinner is currently in the final year of his contract – a deal that will pay him $5.725 million in 2018-19. If the Bruins were worried that Skinner wouldn’t want to re-sign with them beyond this season. There’s also the possibility that Skinner wouldn’t have been willing to waive his no-movement clause to be sent to Boston in the first place, especially considering he reportedly nixed trades prior to this deal. That seems far less likely, though, given the Bruins position as contenders in the present and in the future.
In regards to the contract situation, it’s important to remember that the Sabres didn’t trade a single player from their NHL or even AHL roster and they avoided sending a first-round pick in this deal altogether. The cost for players like Skinner is typically significantly higher, especially when said player is being traded prior to the start of the season and not at the trade deadline.
Something else to consider is the fact that the Hurricanes may be very high on Pu and may not see the Bruins prospects in quite the same way. It’s distinctly possible that the Bruins didn’t want to make a move from their active roster which would omit a player like Danton Heinen from the discussion.
With that in mind, the Bruins have a plethora of NHL-ready talent in their prospect pool and the Hurricanes would have definitely had options even if Heinen wasn’t available.
In general, Don Sweeney has done as a good job as the general manager of the Bruins. That doesn’t mean he’s been anywhere near perfect and while he’s been transparent in what his intentions are with each move he makes and often doesn’t make, this non-move will go down as a head-scratcher given the Bruins current championship window.
Bruins remain Well-Equipped for a Championship Run
The Bruins may be well-equipped for the present and the future but there are no guarantees that any of the team’s prospects will make the jump and keep the Bruins as relative once Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci’s time in Boston comes to an end. For that reason, the Bruins need to make decisions that benefit them in the present, especially if a deal like this becomes available.
As it stands, the Bruins haven’t made up any ground on the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Toronto Maple Leafs (who signed John Tavares) and while their direct competition has gotten better, the Bruins may be worse off now than they were a season ago given the lack of impact moves they’ve made this offseason to adequately replace their losses.
This doesn’t account for the possible development of players like Jake DeBrusk, Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Anders Bjork, Ryan Donato and any newcomers to the lineup who are ready to make the jump, of course, but on paper, the Bruins don’t appear to be better equipped for a championship until we see what the young players can do in 2018-19.
Things aren’t all bleak for the Bruins though as a year ago the team didn’t know exactly what they had in DeBrusk, Heinen or Donato. All three looked very good in their time in Boston and though there were growing pains for them at various points, the fact that they appear to be entrenched in the core of the team means that a big move isn’t always necessary.
Bjork is also a player that fans shouldn’t sleep on as he has a similar skillset to Skinner’s and looked good next to Bergeron and Brad Marchand last season, even if his point total didn’t always reflect that,
While the Bruins don’t necessarily need to make a big move this offseason to be in good shape heading into the season, it still feels like they could have made this trade without jeopardizing their already promising future.
You win some and you lose some, and while losing this one may not be the end of the world, it still stings nonetheless.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.