( Above Photo Credit: NHL .com )
By: Chris Nosek Follow Me On Twitter @cnosek6342
This year the Bruins have shown great progress in adapting to Bruce Cassidy’s style of play along with strong chemistry between the veteran core and the new youngsters. So with the NHL trade deadline quickly approaching in February, let’s take a step back and examine the roster to see who could and should be mentioned during Sweeney’s calls with the other GMs around the league.
To properly dissect the roster, first we must establish where the team currently stands and the goal of what the team is working towards. I think we can all agree that the Patriots have set the bar for “long-term sustained success” in the Boston area and for its’ fans. With that thought in mind, it would also make sense that similar success would be the long-term goal for this organization as well – being in the playoffs year in and year out with deep runs towards winning more Stanley Cups.
To sustain this type of success, the roster needs to have a balance between youth and veterans; skill and physicality, and speed and grit. In building the roster, you have to identify the group of guys who stay and get long-term contracts and filling in the rest of the roster. So far Sweeney and his crew have done a great job, but there is still work to be done. Let’s take a look at what options Sweeney has going into this year’s upcoming trade deadline.
Identifying the core group of guys is one of the most crucial steps in this process; below is the current group that I have defined as the essential people in continuing the construction of the roster moving forward. Later we will examine the rest of the players; there are many players they should not move on from, and many prospects who they should not part with – we will examine those situations next time. Bruins core, most important guys who should not be moved under any circumstances are:
Many believe that Patrice Bergeron will be the next to dawn the captain’s C for the black and gold. Despite being 32 years of age, Bergeron is one of the best defensive centers in the game and with Marchand and Pastrnak as his line-mates, he is still averaging just shy of a point-per-game. Having him locked up for another four (4) years at only $6.875 million per season, Bergeron can be safe and secure in knowing that he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Let’s not talk about the riots in the streets of Boston that would occur should Sweeney move the fan favorite.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 8, 2018
Going into his last contract negotiation, every fan of the black and gold was worried just what would happen with the budding superstar. With bad tastes in their mouths from Seguin and Hamilton, many were terrified they would lose the 21-year-old. After a tenuous process, Sweeney netted the winger to a team friendly 6-year contract for only $6.66 million. After getting through the hard part of the negotiations, Sweeney won’t move the youngster.
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) January 8, 2018
After breaking into the league as the little ball of hate, Marchand has shown his growth and maturity and has now become a prolific scorer. Lining him next to Bergeron and Pastrnak has proven to be a deadly combination and what seems like an unstoppable force. He now has himself an 8-year contract with a very team friendly $6.125 million with a no-movement clause. Moving Marchand would not only break up a top two-way line in the league but would be a huge mistake, and Sweeney knows this. Don’t look for 63 to be moved now or anytime soon.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 10, 2018
Now at the age of 31 and with multiple stints out of the line up this season from being banged up, Krejci is teetering on this list. Still able to produce at a point per game rate, Krejci gives the Bruins one of the best two way 1-2 center combinations. Every time Krejci misses a game people start calling for him to be dealt more and more. With a team-high cap hit of $7.25 million (actual salary of $7.5 million), Krejci is the one who would make the most sense of this core group to start looking to move first. However, the time to look to move him just isn’t quite here yet. If Ryan Spooner had emerged more consistently as a possible replacement for Krejci, then it would make sense to see if 46 would waive his NMC, but at this point, it doesn’t even make sense to ask.
A bouncing puck was no trouble for David Krejci.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 14, 2018
While it was quickly starting to look like Sweeney would regret this deal profoundly, Backes has finally returned to full health and has seemingly begun to turn a corner and show that he can still play as he did during his days in St. Louis. Backes is using his versatility to play both centers and along the right wing to show that he still has a lot to offer a team making a push for a cup. With his leadership capabilities that he brings to the table, it is not worth dealing him off just yet as this team looks like it will be back into serious cup contention during his tenure here and they have a lack at depth along the right side at this time. Given more time for some younger players to step it might be worth looking into moving him in 2019 when his NMC is downgraded to a modified NTC, and $6million on the books becomes more of an issue looking to resign some of the young guys already stepping up.
David Backes named the Third Star of the Week. Since returning from his injury, his impact has been felt up and down the Bruins lineup. He’s also helped solidify the 3rd-line, which is something the Bruins have been lacking for quite some time now. #NHLBruins https://t.co/ClMxvVaMKW
— Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) January 1, 2018
Probably the most shocking name on this list to most people, Nash has earned his way on this list over the past two (2) seasons. With his contract up at the end of this season, Nash is due for a significant raise going into the 2018-2019 season, and Sweeney would be smart to give him that increase. Nash has shown he can play up and down the lineup along the right side while still filling in as needed in the middle. His physicality sets him up to be the perfect 4th line center who can jump up the lineup as injuries dictate. Sweeney would be smart to lock him up using the same four years $12million contract that Peter Chiarelli signed Chris Kelly to back in 2012. Moving Nash at the deadline this year could net Boston a decent early round pick or prospect, but that wouldn’t help the team over the coming years as much as keeping the 28-year-old around.
Bruins up on the Islanders 1-0
Danton Heinen 10 (Assists: Riley Nash 13) pic.twitter.com/7fMsXvDRdh
— HighLight Hockey (@HILITINGHOCKEY) January 3, 2018
Should they call him up or should they leave him in Providence? That was the question surrounding Charlie McAvoy going into the 2016-2017 playoffs. This question got answered for them as injuries forced them to call upon their depth along the blue line. Calling upon the 19-year-old during the playoffs did burn off the first year or his rookie contract. However, it did solidify his place on this roster for this season and moving forward. McAvoy is the defensive building block for this team moving forward and over the next two (2) seasons, resigning him should be Sweeney’s top priority.
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) October 6, 2017
They made it. The Bruins finally got to the last year of Chara’s contract, and for the past couple of seasons, he was not playing to the full value of it. This season’s cap hit of $4 million instead of the previous $6 million. With a couple more young kids coming up on the blue line, resigning Chara to a one or two year contract to keep him with Carlo would help this team grow and create depth along the backend.
Yesterday’s winner of #JakesCOTN shows what I really like about Jack Edwards. The buildup in his voice as he sees the play developing is top-notch. Of course, he’s had a lot of time to see what Zdeno Chára can do with a slap shot. pic.twitter.com/XIsOaBTFT2
— Jake Baskin (@baskincase) January 16, 2018