By Michael DiGiorgio | Follow Me on Twitter: @BostonDiGiorgio
The Boston Bruins are generally active on trade deadline day, and 2019 was no different. The Bruins struck a deal with the Minnesota Wild to bring back a hometown player.
If you listen to any NESN broadcast, Jack Edwards will remind you at least three times a game that Coyle is from Weymouth, Massachusetts. Coyle played for the Boston University Terriers for two years and was drafted by the San Jose Sharks. The 2010 28th overall selection never played a game for the Sharks because he and Devin Setoguchi were traded to the Minnesota Wild for Norris Trophy winner, Brent Burns.
Coyle competed in Minnesota for seven years, where he scored 242 points in 479 games. Coyle strung together three consecutive years playing in all 82 games and scored a career-high 21 goals. Unfortunately, Coyle was never part of any successful seasons with Minnesota. The Wild made the playoffs six of Coyle’s seven years but were bounced from the playoffs in the first round in three of six years.
The Bruins, on the other hand, were coming off of a Stanley Cup victory in 2011 and reached the finals in 2013. Due to a lack of roster depth and poor roster management turnover, they had a few down years, but have largely drafted successfully since. In 2014, Peter Chiarelli (former Bruins General Manager) drafted Ryan Donato with the 56th overall pick. Donato would play at Harvard University for two years and be praised for his speed and quick and powerful wrist shot.
Donato was a Hobey Baker finalist in 2018, which awards the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) best player in the country. Following the 2018 season, he was fast-tracked to Boston’s roster, where he appeared in 12 regular season games totaling nine points and three playoff appearances.
Unfortunately, Donato cooled off significantly the following year, only tallying nine points in 34 games for the Bruins. The left-handed centerman was not featured as the Bruins’ third-line centerman due to his poor face-off ability and lack of consistency. As each game progressed, the Bruins came to the realization they needed a more reliable third-line center.
The deal was made with Minnesota on February 20, 2019, to acquire Coyle for Donato and a conditional fourth-round pick. Coyle immediately flourished in Boston, becoming the Bruins’ best forward in the subsequent playoffs, scoring 16 points in 24 games. Arguably, Coyle has been the most consistent Bruin since his acquisition in 2019. Current General Manager Don Sweeney has noticed his contributions and awarded him a 6-year, $31.5M deal beginning in 2020. The deal includes a modified no-trade and full no-movement clause throughout its life.
Today, the Wild moved Donato to San Jose (funny how this comes full-circle for Coyle) for a 2021 third-round pick.
Donato looks for another fresh start with a team that is need of bottom-six help. As for Coyle, he is in line to become the Bruins second-line center with David Krejci’s in flux. Coyle has been the Bruins Swiss Army knife and has brought out his teammates’ best qualities. He is locked up with the Bruins until 2026, while Krejci enters his deal’s last year.
Krejci’s future is unknown, but let’s work under the impression he is no longer in a black and gold uniform in 2021. Charlie Coyle would undoubtedly be the Bruins’ next second-line center behind Patrice Bergeron. Unlike past years, the Bruins have serviceable prospects who can center the bottom-six and hopefully take Coyle’s place on the third-line.
Jack Studnicka will likely play on the Bruins this year; however, it may be on the wing. Trent Frederic should get a look on the fourth line, and John Beecher is arguably two years away from NHL-ready form. Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner could also support third-line duties if the prospects are not ready for the workload.
The Bruins awarded Coyle with a $5.25M per-year cap hit, which aligns with second-line duties. The 28-year old power forward has a bright future and has taken advantage of every opportunity thrown at him. Coyle was on pace to score 18 goals in an 82 game season while receiving the Krejci treatment of new linemates almost weekly.
If the Bruins retain Krejci for a few years after his current deal, they would have three rock-solid forwards down the middle of their lineup. Coyle could continue to play with the prospects and, hopefully, alleviate the top line’s pressure to score all the goals.
Boston’s management will have their hands full with replacing their core players. Thankfully, Coyle is one of the few players that Sweeney can rely on to be the next mainstay of the Boston Bruins.