By: Mike Cratty | Follow Me On Twitter @Mike_Cratty
The Bruins have found themselves in the news lately in a few different ways. Whether it’s trade rumors or news related to the upcoming World Junior tournament in Edmonton, they have found their way into the news, even in a quiet part of the offseason.
Max Pacioretty, Noah Hanifin linked to Bruins
Whenever there is a winger that can score supposedly on the market, he is more often than not linked to the Bruins in some way. Max Pacioretty is the latest one thanks to TSN bringing the idea to light. Although Golden Knights owner Bill Foley later went on to deny the claim that he is being shopped, I thought I’d give my thoughts on him hypothetically becoming a Bruin.
I love the player, but I don’t love the idea of trading for him. Luckily I won’t have to worry about it, thanks to Bill Foley. A player in his situation would make more sense to trade in the final year of his contract as a playoff rental, to me. He turned 32 less than a month ago and has a modified no-trade clause and three years remaining on his current deal ($7M AAV). No matter the player, there’s always the potential for decline in the 30’s. He’s a terrific scorer and drives the play very well, but the idea of trading for him makes me a bit uneasy.
The discussion surrounding Noah Hanifin is a bit different than Pacioretty for a number of reasons. The one I want to focus on is that we have an idea of a trade package for Hanifin that could get the deal done, as opposed to Pacioretty, it is up to the imagination.
David Pagnotta, Editor-In-Chief of The Fourth Period, got the chatter going about a potential trade surrounding Hanifin and Bruins forward Ondrej Kase. The reported interest from Don Sweeney in Hanifin arose “at some point this off-season” according to Pagnotta. At the same time, Calgary was believed to have had interest in Kase.
I like Kase, I really do. I think he employs a very active playstyle utilizing his speed, quick hands, and quick release. He is great in puck pursuit and solid in his own zone as well. While there are reasons to get excited about what he can bring to the Bruins, he struggled mightily to finish scoring chances last season. But for me, all hope is not lost for him to become more of an offensive contributor.
The main thing that makes me comfortable with trading him is the presence of Jack Studnicka. He’s worthy of consistent NHL minutes and is knocking at the door. The organization also has prospect wingers like Zach Senyshyn, Oskar Steen, Robert Lantosi, and eventually Curtis Hall at the right-wing position. If the right deal is found, dealing a pending RFA in Kase and freeing up the logjam definitely has some merit.
The big thing for Hanifin in Boston would be improving his defensive game in a new system. The Bruins defensive system could be helpful in aiding future improvement. Just shy of $5 million at $4.95 million AAV for Hanifin is a bit rich for my liking. I hope Sweeney could persuade Flames GM Brad Treliving to retain around 10-15 percent of Hanifin’s salary in a trade. That may be wishful thinking though, as Treliving may be hesitant to retain over a four-year span.
Bruins representation at the World Juniors
A pair of 2019 Bruins draft picks in fifth-round defenseman Roman Bychkov and sixth-round forward Matias Mäntykivi will be representing their native countries and the Bruins organization at the 2021 World Juniors – Bychkov for Russia and Mäntykivi for Finland. I’m really excited to watch them, as I haven’t been able to see much of them in action since they became Bruins prospects.
Hockey Twitter was blindsided at the report that 2019 first-round forward and current Michigan Wolverine John Beecher tested positive for COVID-19 and wouldn’t be representing team USA. If he were to have played as expected, he would have had a one-game suspension to serve from last year’s tournament for an illegal hit from behind against team Finland. This is a tough blow for the team as Beecher was expected to be a big piece of the team.
Mason Lohrei and Jake Schmaltz thriving in Green Bay
A couple of other Bruins prospects are having quite the time out in the USHL with the Green Bay Gamblers. 2020 second-round defenseman Mason Lohrei and 2019 seventh-round forward Jake Schmaltz appear to be developing chemistry with one another more and more with time. BNG Founder and CEO, Mark Allred Jr. wrote a bit about the two of them after a big game in late November.
Lohrei is further establishing himself as one of Green Bay’s primary puck movers from the back end and the quarterback of their power play. The combination of puck-moving ability and size is impressive. He leads the team in points with 11 in eight games (4-7-11). Schmaltz has been an effective offensive presence and a key cog on the power play. He is second on the team in points behind Lohrei with nine (5-4-9) in eight games. Lohrei’s seven assists lead the team, as do Schmaltz’s five goals, so their chemistry will be fun to continue to monitor as the season progresses.