As the NHL trade deadline of April 12 inches closer, the Boston Bruins have some needs that general manager Don Sweeney would like to address. One of those needs is adding a top-six forward to help with their lack of secondary scoring and to possibly provide center David Krejci with some stability with a right wing on the second line.
Last season at the trade deadline, Sweeney added right winger Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks and then got left wing, Nick Ritchie, also from the Ducks. Those two moves did not work out like the two deadline trades Sweeney made in 2019 that landed Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild and Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils. Both of those players played a big part in the Bruins’ playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final.
If the Bruins are going to survive the tough MassMutual East Division and finish in the top four to get a playoff berth, then adding a forward should be the top priority for Sweeney. Here are two players that Boston should look to target and upgrade their top-six forwards.
After working out two deals with the Ducks in 2020, could Sweeney swing a third deal with Anaheim? If so, Rakell is someone who would fit the Bruins need to add secondary scoring and a top-six right wing. He scored 30-plus goals in two consecutive seasons with 33 in 2016-17 before he tallied his career-high in 2017-18 with 34 to go along with a career-high 35 assists. The following two seasons saw a drop in production with 18 goals in 2018-19 and 15 in the shortened 2019-20 season.
This season for the nine-win Ducks, who sit at the bottom of the Honda West Division, he has six goals and 15 assists in 32 games. Adding Rakell to the right side with a playmaker like Krejci would give him more of an opportunity to find the goal-scoring touch he had a couple of seasons ago and solidify the Bruins’ top-six forwards. Rakell has a good contract as he is in the fifth year of a six-year, $22.8 million deal that carries a $3.8 cap hit.
This could be an interesting deal for the Bruins to make. Anaheim’s reported asking price is a young NHL player and a first-round pick and the Bruins have what they are looking for. Jake DeBrusk is a young experienced NHL player with a similar cap hit that Rakell has at $3.67 million and is under contract for next year. Sweeney has not been afraid to move his first-round pick either. He sent the Bruins 2020 first-rounder to the Ducks last season in the Kase deal, along with David Backes and defensive prospect Axel Andersson.
In the offseason, Ryan was an option in free agency for the Bruins, but they ended up passing on him and he signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings. The 34-year-old right wing has six goals and seven assists in 29 games this season with 67 shots on net. If Boston acquires him, he would immediately lead their bottom-nine right wings in points.
Ryan was selected second overall in 2005 by the Ducks and the 14-year veteran, who has 18 career playoff goals, would slide next to Krejci on the second line. He is not the 30-goal scorer he was for the Ducks earlier in his career, but he is having a bounce-back season with the struggling Red Wings and would be a good addition to this Bruins team for a postseason run.
In November of 2019, he took a leave of absence from the Ottawa Senators to enter the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program citing issues with alcohol. He returned to the Senators for eight games and scored four goals before the NHL paused its season on March 12 due to the coronavirus.
Bruins Have Options
Sweeney has tried to solve the secondary scoring woes they have had the two seasons without much success. Rakell and Ryan are two right wings that both would slide into the top-six. A move by Sweeney is almost necessary at this point with the Bruins lacking secondary scoring following their top two lines. Both of these players are what they could use and both have good contracts to take on, with Rakell under contract for next season and Ryan on an extremely cheap expiring contract.
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.