With the NHL trade deadline just three days away, the Boston Bruins are one of the teams expected to be active. General manager Don Sweeney has some young players on his current roster that could be appealing to other teams, while he also has some prospects that could be packaged to solve multiple needs that Boston has.
It is widely known that the Bruins’ window for winning a championship with their core players is closing. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Brad Marchand are all in their 30’s, with the first two in their mid-30’s, but the Black and Gold have multiple needs to upgrade their roster for a postseason run. A middle-six forward, preferably a right wing, and an addition to the left side to their defense are their top two priorities.
In order to fill the needs they have, the Bruins might have to part ways with some prospects. Here are four prospects that Sweeney should deem as “Untouchable” in any deal he looks to complete by 3 p.m. Monday.
This one is a no-brainer, as the Bruins’ top prospect is a center in waiting for when Bergeron and Krejci are gone. He started the season at right wing on the first line, but was unproductive before getting hurt. When Krejci was injured in mid-February, Studnicka was inserted as the third-line center and he played very well. Sean Kuraly was recently out on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols list, and Studnicka even got some fourth-line duties at center and played well in Kurlay’s absence.
In any trade discussion that Sweeney is going to have, most teams will start with the 53rd pick in the second round of the 2017 Entry Draft as part of the package. With Bergeron and Krejci near the end of their careers, Studnicka’s time is going to come sooner rather than later up the middle for the Bruins.
It’s only been four starts this season, but the 6-foot-5 Vladar has impressed enough by winning two of those games. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are both in the final year of their current contracts and there’s no guarantee that either will be back in 2021-22.
In his four starts this season with the Bruins, he is 2-1-1 with a 2.25 goals-against average (GAA) and a .922 save percentage (SV%). He beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1, on March 16 with 34 saves for his first career win, then 11 days later he made 25 saves in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. At 24 years old, the 75th overall pick in the third round of the 2015 Entry Draft is making a case to be the goalie of the future.
The Bruins’ 111th pick in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, Swayman had an impressive NHL debut Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. The 22-year-old made 40 saves, including 23 in the second period in a 4-2 Boston victory. Thursday night, he followed up that performance with 31 more saves in a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals. In two games in the NHL, he has a 2.01 GAA with a .947 SV%.
In his first nine games with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League this season after a three-year career at the University of Maine, he has a 1.89 GAA with a .933 SV%. He has an 8-1 record and has allowed just 17 goals for the P-Bruins.
With two goaltenders on the back end of their career and in the final year of their contracts, having two young goalies that are having impressive seasons to date are worth holding on to. Vladar and Swayman will be battling it out for the starting job in Boston in the future.
Hall recently signed his entry-level contract with the Bruins after his junior season at Yale University was canceled because of the coronavirus last fall. He brings a combination of speed and size as a 20-year-old center at 6-foot-3 and 196 pounds. He has only played four games this season with Providence because of injuries, but as he proved in college, he has a good offensive skills.
In his sophomore season of 2019-20 for Yale, the 119th pick in the fourth round of the 2018 draft averaged nearly a point a game for the Bulldogs with 17 goals and 10 assists in just 28 games. There is a lot to like about his game for the future.
Other Prospects Are in Play
These four prospects should be deemed untouchable by Sweeney. There are several other prospects that could be in play as far as getting a trade done. Trent Frederic, Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Lauko, Oskar Steen, and Jack Ahcan are just a few names that could draw interest from other clubs. As he showed last season, Sweeney isn’t afraid to use his first-round pick in a deal either after he sent Boston’s 2020 pick to the Anaheim Ducks in a deal for Ondrej Kase.
There’s no question that the Bruins have a couple of areas that are in need of an upgrade prior to 3 p.m. Monday. If the right deal is there to be had by Sweeney, he should take it, but not at the cost of mortgaging the future with his top prospects.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.