It’s that time of year. With the NHL trade deadline days away, teams are ready to go shopping. Buyers want to make their team better for what they hope is a long run in the Stanley Cup playoffs and sellers are looking to add pieces for the future while parting ways with players who have value.
Last season at the deadline, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney picked up Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild and Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils. Both players helped anchor the Bruins’ third line in a run to the Stanley Cup Final. One year later, Sweeney is in charge of the team with the best record and most points in the league. It’s time for him to go big and get what his team needs.
Current Window to Close
Every successful team will find their window eventually closes. Boston has two, maybe three more years left with this group.
Captain Zdeno Chara, at 42 years old, is still a solid defenseman and a leader. This could be his last shot at a ring. Patrice Bergeron centers the top line and is quietly having a good season with 26 goals and 24 assists playing with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. David Krejci is north of 30 years old, but is still a solid playmaker on the second line with Jake DeBrusk. And the Bruins have the best goalie statistically in the NHL in Tuukka Rask. They also have the league’s second-best power play and penalty kill.
With that said, it’s time for Sweeney to solidify the Bruins’ top-six and trade for a right winger to play next to Krejci and DeBrusk. Pastrnak is having a career-year scoring (tied with Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the league-lead in goals) with 42 goals and Marchand has dished out 50 assists on the first line with Bergeron. It’s time to land a right winger who can score on the second line. This would give the team a formidable top-six who could take on any playoff opponent.
Get a Right Wing
Sweeney has plenty of right wing choices: Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers should be at the top of the list, but he would likely cost the most. A first-round pick and top prospect is what the Rangers would be looking for. Boston has a number of prospects down in Providence with their American Hockey League affiliate that could be had. Who would go back in a Kreider trade is what Sweeney needs to look at. Anders Bjork off the Bruins current roster or Danton Heinen could be sacrificed to pull of the trade instead on a minor leaguer.
Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings plays right wing now and would be a solid acquisition to play alongside Krejci and DeBrusk and would not require as big of a return as Kreider. A draft pick and mid-level prospect would be heading west in a deal.
Toffoli has been linked to the Bruins for a while, so Sweeney likely knows what it would cost to land him. Both Kreider and Toffoli carry a hefty cap-hit. Kreider’s is $4.625 million and Toffoli has a $4.6 million hit. With just over $3 million in cap space, Sweeney would have to move someone off the roster to make either trade work.
Sweeney has plenty of draft picks at his disposal. He could also subtract someone like David Backes to clear cap space and include him in a deal with a low-level prospect.
Another Long Playoff Run
Last year, the Bruins caught a break when the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. That left the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes between the Bruins and a second trip in six years to the Stanley Cup Final, their third in the last decade. It won’t be that easy this season as two of the teams mentioned have already pulled off trades, which means a move is needed.
The Lightning are the hottest team in the NHL now and are on the heels of the Bruins in the Atlantic Division. They have won 10 games in a row and made a trade Sunday night with the Devils to pick up forward Blake Coleman. With 21 goals in 57 games this year in New Jersey, Coleman joins a Tampa Bay team that is loading up to erase the memories of last year’s playoff disappointment.
Pittsburgh picked up Jason Zucker last week from the Wild. He scored two goals in his second game in a Penguins uniform to bolster their offensive punch. That’s two teams already making moves for a deeper playoff run that they had last year. Look for Washington to be active in the trade market this in the week as well.
Boston lost in seven games to the St. Louis Blues in last year’s Stanley Cup Final. While the main core of that team has returned in 2019-20, including Coyle who signed an extension this year, Sweeney needs to be a buyer at the deadline and add what he can and what he needs to this current roster. No stone should be left unturned. It’s time to go all-in.
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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.