The NHL trade deadline is an exciting time for hockey fans. Whether your team is in the hunt for a playoff spot or looking to rebuild, it’s hard not to be engaged in the rapid player movement. For AHL fans, it can also test your nerves. NHL clubs’ top priority is to win at the highest level, which means sacrificing success or chemistry at the AHL level is sometimes necessary.
Providence Bruins fans can exhale. Their parent club in Boston made some improvements, bringing in three players through trades before the deadline, but the P-Bruins are still relatively intact for a playoff run.
Veteran Added to P-Bruins Defense
Providence wasn’t completely unscathed by Boston’s dealing, though. Rob O’Gara was sent to the New York Rangers in a trade that brought Nick Holden to Boston. A healthy Jeremy Lauzon in the second half of the season makes for a crowded blueline in Providence. Paul Postma cleared waivers and joined the P-Bruins this week, which essentially replaces O’Gara’s spot with 210 games of NHL experience. Postma struggled to crack the lineup in Boston, appearing in 12 games. He should get the opportunity for consistent playing time in Providence. The P-Bruins will benefit from the hungry veteran.
Providence has a strong group of blueliners as the post-season nears. In fact, Boston’s acquisition of Holden should solidify the P-Bruins defense for the stretch run. Holden is a proven NHL defenseman that gives Boston eight reliable options for six spots. Unless the injury bug strikes as hard as it did at the end of last season, defensemen from Providence are unlikely to be called upon for the NHL playoff run.
Another somewhat surprising move was the paper transaction the Bruins made sending Matt Grzelcyk to Providence and later recalling him. Grzelcyk had to be added to the P-Bruins roster to be playoff-eligible in the AHL. If the NHL squad has an early exit, he would be able to join the team in Providence. It’s common for organizations to send young players down once their NHL season is over, but it doesn’t seem like a sure thing with Grzelcyk. He’s already up to 57 games played this season between the two teams and a deep playoff run may take him out of the running for a Providence return despite the playoff situation.
Forward Group Solidified For Stretch Run
The Matt Beleskey era in Providence is over. The Bruins were able to move the forward, and part of his contract, in the Rick Nash deal. Much like the defense, the forward group in Providence remained largely intact after the trade deadline. In fact, roster shuffling due to call-ups seems less likely for the latter part of the season. Boston picked up Tommy Wingels in a trade to add depth. The organization also brought in U.S. Olympic captain Brian Gionta. Patrice Bergeron’s health remains a question, but the P-Bruins have a solidified group of forwards to roll out for the remainder of the season.
There was reportedly interest in Peter Cehlarik before the deadline. Cehlarik brings size and a strong presence up front. He registered 38 points in 49 games in 2016-17, (20 goals, 18 assists) his first season in North America. Cehlarik has been on the fringe of the NHL, playing 17 games over the last two seasons. It speaks to the depth in the organization that other teams are calling on AHL players. That depth trickles down to Providence, and Cehlarik will be relied upon to provide secondary scoring in a post-season run.
#NHLBruins received calls from several teams on Peter Cehlarik leading up to trade deadline, per NHL source
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) February 27, 2018
The P-Bruins could be without Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Jakub Zboril for a while, listed with upper body injuries. However, fans of the AHL team can relax and enjoy the ride. Boston was a buyer at the deadline this year, but the P-Bruins remained intact. Added depth at the top level will benefit the team in Providence. The organization didn’t make any deals that improved the team, but barring further injury the P-Bruins should be able to roll out a consistent lineup every night. They should even have competition in spots heading into the playoffs.
A life-long follower of the game of hockey. Communications experience with the AHL’S Portland Pirates, and a former coach at the college club level. Covering the Providence Bruins and prospects.