Heading into the 2019 Trade Deadline, it was clear that the Boston Bruins had been putting feelers out to just about every seller in the league. Any team that had a player who could have made any semblance or improvement to the team was explored to some degree or another.
While there was an expectation that the Bruins would come away with a huge deadline addition this season to help put them over the top, the team ultimately fell short of their goal. Mark Stone became a Vegas Golden Knight, Gustav Nyquist became a San Jose Shark, Kevin Hayes became a Winnipeg Jet, Ryan Dzingel became a Columbus Blue Jacket and even Wayne Simmonds became a Nashville Predator.
Despite this, the Bruins did come away from the deadline with a better team due to two additions, one on Monday and one prior to the deadline day itself.
With the Bruins adding Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson to the fold, it felt appropriate to get together with the other talented Bruins’ writers at The Hockey Writers and get their impressions on the Bruins’ ultimate deadline additions and if they felt like the team did enough.
The deadline for the Bruins can be looked at in two ways. On the surface, they can look like big losers as they went in with high hopes and aspirations but came away with two middle-six forwards who don’t amount to the type of player Stone or Hayes or even Nyquist would have been in Boston.
On the other hand, the Bruins did a good job upgrading their third-line center position with Coyle while also adding a talented playmaking forward who can play all three positions and contribute on special teams in Johansson.
While they lost Ryan Donato in the process, they retained their first-round pick and didn’t break the bank at the end of the day. Even better is the fact that Coyle isn’t a rental and will be more than just a deadline addition when all is said and done.
Could the Bruins have done more? Absolutely. Should Bruins fans be disappointed? Probably not.
The board doesn’t always fall the way people expect. Nyquist went to the Sharks because he preferred them to the Bruins. Stone went to the Golden Knights because they included Erik Brannstrom in their deal. Hayes went to the Jets because they threw in their first-round pick and Simmonds and Dzingel probably shouldn’t have priorities regardless.
The Bruins didn’t make a huge splash on deadline day like many expected, but given the prices they were window shopping at, that’s not such a bad thing.
The addition of Johansson will certainly add some depth up front for the B’s (which has been an issue for much of the season), and though he’s not having a career year, he’s played well of late. Additionally, Boston was able to grab the pending UFA without forfeiting any of their prospects, which is a major plus.
As for the Coyle deal, Bruins fans should feel okay as well. Did Boston give up on Donato a bit early? Yeah, maybe. But, you have to consider the boatload of prospects the Bruins are working with. Donato certainly wasn’t Boston’s most valuable youngster. The B’s were able to strengthen up their center corps (through next season, it’s worth noting) without forfeiting a top prospect. Remember, you’ve got to give a little to get a little.
Given the price tags Boston was looking at, I think Bruins fans should be satisfied. While hauling in the likes of Stone or Panarin would’ve been ideal, it isn’t worth unloading the prospect pool that points toward a bright future in Boston.
All season we’ve seen the Bruins tied to big-time players. Names like Ilya Kovalchuk and John Tavares during the offseason and Artemi Panarin and Mark Stone leading up to the deadline were frequently tossed around. Boston didn’t land any of them.
While adding one of the aforementioned players would have put Boston amongst contenders such as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets (at least on paper), they didn’t come up empty-handed. The Bruins added some experienced and skillful forwards – forwards that will likely be very valuable come crunch time.
I suppose crunch time starts now: the Eastern Conference is tightly packed (outside of Tampa Bay) and the Bruins are fighting for a playoff berth. Coyle and Johansson are both reliable players and they are easy to project: what you’ve seen from them in their former sweaters is what you’re going to get in Boston.
Is Johansson the top-six winger the Bruins were hoping to add? Certainly not. But when the dust settles, you realize that the Bruins didn’t overpay for an acquisition yet got a solid amount of offensive skill and two-way play in return.
The Bruins are playing the long game here: they’re not in a position such as Tampa Bay or Columbus where they have to put all their money on the table. Boston can afford to let the big-name players pass them by for now. They have tremendous skill, promising prospects, and now an even stronger core.
They didn’t land a Stone and have to sign him to an eight-year extension. They didn’t overpay for a guy who may very well waltz into free agency at the end of this season. They played it smart, and smart teams see success more often than others.
I know they aren’t sexy by any means, but I do like the Bruins’ deadline moves.
For me, when healthy, the Bruins can now run three scoring lines. Coyle gives them legit depth down the middle, and Johansson provides some scoring depth and speed while also giving them another powerplay weapon. Sweeney didn’t want to sacrifice his young talent, and I thought he really got a bang for his buck with both of these deals.
Is it enough? That remains to be seen, but outside of Mark Stone, I wouldn’t have been willing to pay the prices that were being asked. I thought Sweeney did well Monday.