Bruins Extending Lindholm Solidifies Defense

Heading into the trade deadline, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney addressed one of his team’s needs Saturday night when he acquired left-shot defenseman Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks. One of the biggest defensive trade targets on the market along with Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes, Sweeney got a player that his team desperately needed.

Related: Bruins Acquire Hampus Lindholm From Ducks

In order to acquire Lindholm, it had to be a big package going back to Anaheim, and that was exactly what it was. Along with Lindholm, the Bruins also acquired 32-year-old defenseman Kodie Curran, in exchange for prospect Urho Vaakanainen, veteran defenseman John Moore, Boston’s first-round pick this summer, and two second-round picks in 2023 and 2024. Anaheim is also retaining 50-percent of Lindholm’s salary. Losing three draft picks in the first two rounds over the next three seasons for a rental is a lot to give up, but Sweeney made the deal worth it Sunday afternoon.

Bruins Lock up Lindholm With an Extension

Pierre LeBrun reported after the trade Saturday night that the Bruins had already reached out to Lindholm’s camp about getting an extension and Sunday afternoon, the team announced the details. Lindholm agreed to an eight-year extension with a cap hit of $6.5 million to avoid the chance that Boston could have lost him this summer in free agency.

Hampus Lindholm Anaheim Ducks
New Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Locking up Lindholm locks up a piece on the left-side the Black and Gold have been missing since Tory Krug left in free agency for the St. Louis Blues in October of 2020. Lindholm is a bigger player at 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds, but he will allow Charlie McAvoy to become a bigger offensive player from the backend than he already is. Lindholm has racked up 222 career points in 582 regular-season games for the Ducks over nine seasons. He has five goals and 17 assists in 61 games this season.

“I would be hard-pressed to think we were going to give away the assets and trade away the assets we did without the belief we could enter into an extension. The timing of it is difficult. You’ve got to have some trust that your group’s going to find common ground after the fact. We were confident, in doing our due diligence, that this would be a place that Hampus would be excited to play.”

Don Sweeney (from ‘Bruins’ focus will be on offense at the deadline after shoring up the D with Hampus Lindholm trade and extension’, The Athletic, March 20, 2022)

In his media session on Sunday, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said that Lindholm, McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk will combine to be the top-four on defense. Lindholm, who is not expected to play tomorrow night against the Montreal Canadiens on the road, being paired with McAvoy makes the most sense, which allows Grzelcyk to pair with Carlo, giving the Bruins two good offensive players on both pairings in McAvoy and Grzelcyk. Mike Reilly and Derek Forbort will see the biggest effect from the trade as they will be fighting for bottom-pairing minutes. Both players signed a three-year contract last offseason, so eventually, there is going to be roster shuffling needed on the left-side.

“We’re a better team today, he’s a legitimate top-four resume in the NHL, he’s playoff-tested, still young, left side,” said Cassidy. “He’ll either play with McAvoy or Carlo and probably both to be honest with you down the stretch here, see what best works best for us once we get to know him as a player. Real good add for us. We gain a guy real excited to be here.”

If there was one thing that was learned from the Bruins’ second-round elimination at the hands of the New York Islanders last spring is that their defense needs more toughness and a top-four player. Sweeney addressed both by acquiring Lindholm for this season and beyond.

Why Locking up Lindholm Was a Must

Giving up what Sweeney gave up to acquire Lindholm, losing him this upcoming offseason in free agency would have been a tough blow. Vaakanainen had played well this season in Boston before the concussion he sustained on Feb. 1 against the Seattle Kraken. Moore has struggled with injuries in Boston and giving up three picks in the first two rounds over the next three seasons is a lot.

Don Sweeney Bruins
Don Sweeney, Boston Bruins general manager (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

However, getting Lindholm to agree to an extension and locking him up assures that when the Bruins are going to be set on the back end in front of young promising goalie Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark. McAvoy agreed to an eight-year, $76 million extension last October, and Grzelcyk and Carlo also recently got new deals. When the time comes for Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to no longer be part of the Black and Gold, Sweeney has set up his team to build from the back out.

The deadline is less than a day away at 3 o’clock on Monday and there is still an opportunity for Sweeney to add to his roster. A second-line center and a top-six right wing are additions that would be welcomed heading into the final stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.