Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney made his first move with the NHL trade deadline quickly approaching on Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. It was not a move that was expected, something that Sweeney has been known to do in the past – make a move nobody sees coming. He acquired right wing Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks Friday afternoon.
Last season, he struck a deal at the deadline to acquire Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild and Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils. Coyle wasn’t mentioned in many rumors prior to the deal, but played a big role in the postseason helping the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup Final. He was rewarded with a contract extension earlier this season. There are still bigger names being floated around before Monday’s deadline, but is this the only move Sweeney will do or does he have another one in mind? Time will tell.
Where Kase Fits In
Kase has just 7 goals and 16 assists this season with the Ducks in 49 games, but hasn’t played since Feb. 7. He took a hit to the head in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the team has said that he’s been out with flu-like symptoms. Regardless, when he gets to Boston, he should be well rested.
Kase will most likely slot in on the second line right wing with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. He is an upgrade from Karson Kuhlman (one goal and four assists) and has almost the same stats as Danton Heinen (7 goals and 15 assists), who have both been rotating there. Should Sweeney make another move to bring a goal-scoring, top-six forward in, Kase would fit in fine with Charlie Coyle on the third line for Boston.
Another Trade Coming?
As part of the Kase trade, Sweeney was able to move David Backes, who they waived last month, to the Ducks and open up cap room despite retaining 25 percent of this contract. There is still time for Sweeney to go after one of the remaining names that could be available before Monday afternoon.
Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers remains the prize player that could be moved. With the trade market set high by the Pittsburgh Penguins when they acquired Jason Zucker from the Minnesota Wild, and the Tampa Bay Lightning trading top prospects and a first-round pick to the Devils for Blake Coleman. Tyler Toffoli went from the Los Angeles Kings to the Vancouver Canucks for prospects as well.
Kreider would require a haul back to Rangers’ general manager Jeff Gorton. One thing that Sweeney doesn’t have at his disposal in a trade for Kreider is a first-round pick, as that went to Anaheim in the Kase deal. A top prospect would likely go back, along with someone off the current roster (Anders Bjork, Kuhlman or Heinen). Sweeney would have to get creative to add Kreider without a first-round draft pick, but it would be a move that would deepen the Bruins to three lines with Kase sliding to the third line.
New Jersey interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald has been wheeling and dealing, moving Coleman and defenseman Andy Greene to the New York Islanders in the last week. Heading for a rebuild in New Jersey, Kyle Palmieri is a player that would fit nicely on the Bruins roster and has one-year remaining on his current five-year deal he signed with the Devils in 2016-17.
Other options could be Josh Anderson from the Columbus Blue Jackets or Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Sweeney’s History Says He’s Not Done
Sweeney has a history of making a move that comes from nowhere, like last seasons two deals for Coyle and Johansson at the deadline. Kase qualifies as a move like that, as he was not mentioned like Kreider or Toffoli has been to the Bruins. If Sweeney makes one more move to upgrade the top-six forwards, then he’s showing the team that he’s all-in this season in a chase for a second Stanley Cup in nine seasons.
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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.