Bruins Need More Than Just One Trade Deadline Move to be Contenders

With the NHL trade deadline just over three weeks away, things are going to start to heat up on the trade front. One of the teams that are expected to be active is the Boston Bruins. General manager Don Sweeney will likely be aggressive in making moves in giving his team a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup this spring.

On Tuesday, the Bruins headed out West to begin a tough-six-game road trip that is spread out over nearly two weeks and begins with their first tip to Climate Pledge Arena against the expansion Seattle Kraken. Tuesday night, the Kraken hosted and lost to the New York Islanders, 5-2, but it was not the result that raised some eyebrows in Seattle, it was who was reported to be in attendance.

Ryan Clark of The Athletic reported as many as seven teams had scouts in attendance at the game, including a seat reserved for Sweeney. It is not surprising to have the GM traveling with the team this time of year, especially with the stops the Black and Gold have against some teams that could be sellers by the March 21 deadline. This season’s Bruins team is not one move away from being a contender when the playoffs begin, but they are multiple moves away from battling the top teams in the Eastern Conference. This road trip could be seen as one to check in on some trade targets in person.

Bruins Have Multiple Needs

Every team is different, but unlike some of the other teams in the NHL, the Bruins are at least two moves away from being a serious contender. Sweeney’s offseason free-agent additions have not lived up to what was expected. Aside from Linus Ullmark who has been good in goal, defensemen Derek Forbort has had an up and down season, while three veteran forward additions, Erik Haula, Nick Foligno, and Tomas Nosek, have struggled.

Related: Bruins Weekly: Concerns on Defense, Trade Targets & More

That does not include right wing Craig Smith who has struggled mightily putting the puck into the net on whatever line he plays on and Jake DeBrusk, a talented left wing, requested a trade back in November and could be getting closer to having that request fulfilled. On the blue line, a left-shot defenseman could be added and maybe a right-shot if the right player, maybe John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars, becomes available. A trade package centered around DeBrusk could land a need on defense.

Jake DeBrusk Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Another addition that Boston could use, and maybe the most unlikely addition to made, is adding some toughness or a physical presence on the roster. Whether it’s on defense or as a forward, the Bruins have been a team that has been pushed around this season, with no one really standing up and sending a message back to the other team. Trent Frederic is one of those players who can do that, but asking him by himself is a lot for the 29th overall first-round pick in 2016. Charlie McAvoy has stepped up to deliver some toughness, but in the big picture, it is not something that coach Bruce Cassidy wants to see on a nightly basis as they need him on the ice as much as possible instead of the penalty box or out injured.

Sweeney Needs to Prioritize Moves

One move to fill a need most likely won’t be enough for the Bruins. It will most likely be enough to fend off the Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, or any other team below them in the standings for the final playoff berth, but against the top teams, it most likely won’t get them past the first round.

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

Against the seven teams above them in the standings, the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and Washington Capitals, the Black and Gold have a 3-7-3 record. They were swept by the Hurricanes, being outscored 16-2 and their three regulation wins were two over the Capitals and one over the Lightning. Right now, aside from maybe Washington, the other teams are head and shoulders better than the Bruins.

To compete with the best, the Bruins need a second-line center and a left-shot defensemen or even Klingberg. Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes is a blueliner that will most likely be available and the Coyotes have already begun their fire sale by making two trades with the Maple Leafs and a minor deal with Sweeney. Thursday night in the Bruins 3-2 overtime win over the Kraken, the Bruins got an up-close look at former teammates Jeremy Lauzon, Mark Giordano, and Vince Dunn, all left-shots that would be a welcomed addition to the defense.

Related: Bruins Could Really Use the Stars’ Klingberg

There are other games on the trip against possible players that could be on the move like Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks, left/right wing Rickard Rakell, and left-shot defensemen Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks. The Bruins and Sweeney have had an interest in those players in the past and it would not be surprising to see them kick the tires again ahead of the deadline.

Other Bruins Possible Trade Targets

Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux, left wing Andrew Copp of the Winnipeg Jets, and former Bruin and left wing Phil Kessel of the Coyotes are players that the Bruins should have an interest in. Nick Leddy of the Red Wings and Calvin da Hann of the Chicago Blackhawks are defensemen that would be interesting additions on the backend, along with Ben Chiarot of the Montreal Canadiens. Can you imagine a Bruins/Canadiens trade? Not likely, but hey, you never know.

Sweeney Unlikely to Blow Things Up

It is extremely unlikely that Sweeney blows up the team and starts over. He will be aggressive at the trade deadline in making every effort to make additions instead of subtractions. In order for the Bruins to officially get into the playoffs, one move would be good. If Boston has visions of making a run through the postseason, then multiple upgrades are needed to compete with the iron of the Eastern Conference. There are questions about whether or not captain Patrice Bergeron returns after this season as he will be a free agent. It would be in Sweeney’s best interest to not only address a need up the middle this season, but also beyond.

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