Bruins’ 3 Biggest Trade Deadline Needs

The NHL trade deadline is seven days away and things are going to get interesting around the league the closer we get to 3 o’clock on March 21. One of the teams that are expected to be active is the Boston Bruins who have multiple needs. General manager Don Sweeney has some decisions to make in terms of prioritizing his team’s needs.

Last season following the Bruins’ elimination from the second round of the playoffs by the New York Islanders, Bruins President Cam Neely said that, “It’s worth taking one more shot at it here.’’ With the veteran core getting older by the day, expect Sweeney to go all-in on any deal he can pull off by next Monday. Here are the three of the biggest needs ranked in the order that could use additions for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.

3. Right Wing

Despite the recent play of Jake DeBrusk on the top line and Craig Smith on the third line, there is a need for another right wing. DeBrusk more than likely will be traded which opens up the right side of the first line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Moving Smith up there and breaking up the chemistry that he has built with Trent Frederic and Charlie Coyle is not the move to make right now.  

Craig Smith, Boston Bruins
Craig Smith, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Smith has proven in his two seasons in Boston that he is a streaky scorer and the second line of Taylor Hall, Erik Haula and David Pastrnak is one that has gained the most chemistry since Jan. 1. The options if DeBrusk is moved and a right wing is not the return without breaking up the other two lines are not great. Oskar Steen from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) is an option, but making the jump to the AHL to the top line in Boston is a big ask right now.

The Bruins have been linked to Rickard Rakell of the Anaheim Ducks in the past and even though he’s a left-shot, he has played on his off-wing. Connor Garland and Brock Boeser from the Vancouver Canucks could also be available for the right price if Vancouver decides to sell.

2. Second Line Center

Fifty-nine games into the season and the Bruins have not replaced the hole that is the second line center behind Bergeron after David Krejci decided to continue his career in his home country of the Czech Republic. Coyle edged out Jack Studnicka in training camp in the middle on the second line and it did not work out. Haula has been better there since being bumped up by Bruce Cassidy between Hall and Pastrnak, but is he the long-term answer in the postseason?

Erik Haula, Boston Bruins
Erik Haula, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After Coyle and Haula, there are not many options. This is one position where Sweeney needs to have an eye on the future as Bergeron’s contract is up following this season and he said before training camp that he has not decided on his career beyond this season. In reality, his decision is one that could go either way and if he walks away, the Bruins don’t have the No. 1 center option on the roster or in the organization. 

Related: 5 Bruins Trade Deadline Targets That Address Current & Future Needs

For the present, center depth is an issue and an upgrade there would go a long in solidifying the position. If nothing is acquired, they will have to go with Haula, but they could also try to acquire someone under contract beyond this season. J.T. Miller of the Canucks or Andrew Copp of the Winnipeg Jets who would be considered and Miller is under contract next season, but could be brought back in the offseason on another contract should Bergeron not come back. This one is a very close second and the argument could be made that it could easily be the number one need.

1. Left Shot Defenseman

The Bruins are getting by with some contributions from their younger left-shot defenseman recently like Jack Ahcan and Urho Vaakanainen, prior to his concussion he suffered on Feb. 1 on a hit from Yanni Gourde of the Seattle Kraken. Matt Grzelcyk has recently been out with an injury and an illness, but he has been injury-prone the last two seasons. More importantly, finding a left-side top pairing with Charlie McAvoy for not only this season, but beyond would be the move to make.

Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes would be the top target for not only the Bruins, but just about every other team looking to upgrade their left side. He is under contract for the next three seasons and even with the asking price being high, it would be worth it for Sweeney to go all-in on the 23-year-old. He was injured in Saturday night’s game at the TD Garden and his health will go a long way to what happens at the deadline.

Jakob Chychrun Arizona Coyotes
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If Chychrun can’t be acquired, there are other options that Sweeney could turn to, but in the overall picture, how confident would the Bruins be with a left side of Grzelcyk, Mike Reilly, and Derek Forbort in the playoffs? The answer should be an addition is needed and to make a big move, including Grzelcyk in a deal is something that I would consider if I was Sweeney. 

Moves Need to Be Made

Overall in the big picture, the Bruins have been playing some good hockey, going 9-1-1 in their last 11 games. They are getting production from all four lines, with the top three lines producing offensively, while the fourth line has been good creating chances, being strong on the forecheck, and adding some key penalty-killing shifts. Despite the recent success, additions to the roster are needed to give the Black and Gold an opportunity to compete with the top teams in the Eastern Conference beginning in May. Addressing some of these three needs would go a long way toward giving them an opportunity in the playoffs.

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