By: Mandi Mahoney | Follow Me On Twitter @phoneymahoney
Bruins fans have been clamoring for Boston brass to make a trade. Some think a defenseman is needed, some think a second line wing will do the trick, and others think a third line center will cure what ails the Bruins. The Black and Gold opened the season up with a 7-0 loss to the defending Cup champs and have looked inconsistent since. Are the Bruins really in need of a roster shake up, though?
It had seemed to most people that the Bruins were planning to pick up a scoring wing during the offseason, but that didn’t pan out. At this point, the only Bruins forwards with more than three points in the first dozen games are Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and David Krejci – surprise, surprise. By the looks of things, the Bruins may have been expecting either Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson or Trent Frederic to skate in the third line center position. By the end of the preseason, neither player had made a convincing — never mind compelling — argument that he should center the third line. This forced the Bruins to try Sean Kuraly, David Backes, and others as their third line pivot. Kuraly has mostly looked out of place on the third line. Backes is getting old and isn’t very durable, so he’s not really ideal to play center.
Since then, we’ve seen a couple of players who have played all over the lineup in Danton Heinen and Joakim Nordstrom. To a lesser extent, Anders Bjork has also slotted into multiple roster spots, as well. Out of the three, Bjork has the most top six potential, but he hasn’t been getting much ice time, averaging 11:34 per game. Only Noel Acciari and Urho Vaakanainen are averaging less. Nordstrom is seemingly the best player to fill in at the moment, as he hasn’t been a liability in any position he’s played. Heinen is one of the Bruins’ few “Swiss Army Knife” utility-type players, and while the second line’s advanced stats were good when he played with Krejci and DeBrusk, Cassidy has been more eager to play him in a third line role.
Once Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, and Kevan Miller return to action, the Bruins may have decisions to make as far as the defense goes, as they’re bordering on being overstocked. Matt Grzelcyk has been their second highest scoring defenseman, behind only McAvoy, and he has been reliable defensively. Aside from a few rough shifts, Brandon Carlo is beginning to look like a very good NHL defenseman. Jeremy Lauzon will likely be sent back down to Providence soon enough, but his first stint on the big Bruins has been impressive, as he’s been positionally sound and hasn’t made any scary mistakes.
Another potential third liner, Ryan Donato, was assigned to Providence earlier today. The rotating cast on the line has looked sloppy in general, but part of that is presumably because they haven’t been able to build much chemistry. The Bruins bottom six hasn’t had a consistent composition at all this season. Taking all of that into consideration, it sounds like the third line and depth scoring need to be addressed. However, it has only been twelve games, and things really aren’t so bad.
The Bruins are tied with five other teams for fourth in the league with 16 points. Their power play is also fourth, converting at 29.7%. The penalty kill could use some help as it has only killed 76.3% of the Bruins’ penalties, but when you’re winning and your power play is as good as the Bruins’, you don’t make big trade simply to bolster your PK.
Goaltending does not need to be addressed; Rask may have had a tough start, but Jaroslav Halak has been fantastic. Halak’s save percentage is .947, good for second best in the league. This ridiculous number will definitely not hold up over the whole season, but there’s absolutely no need to make any kind of move for a goalie. Team defense has been solid, as the team has only given up 29 goals, tied for fourth-best in the league, which is very impressive since puck-moving ace (and second best defenseman) Torey Krug has only played one game.
If the Bruins’ bottom six still isn’t gelling after David Backes returns from injury and they’ve reached the 25 game mark, it may be time to call up wing Peter Cehlarik, who by all accounts is having himself a good season in Providence. Cehlarik was wonderful at training camp and in the preseason, and many fans have been vocal about his not making the team.
Depending on what Forsbacka-Karlsson and Frederic are in the AHLdoing at that point, calling one of them up could be a possibility, or former KHL forward Jan Kovar, if he turns out to be a good fit with Providence. If this happens and the third line still hasn’t gotten its footing, maybe then the Bruins explore their options and make a few calls, but when injuries and youth are taken into consideration, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to make a move so early in the season. The not-so-short answer on the question of whether the Bruins need to make a trade right now seems to be “no”.