By: Michael DiGiorgio | Follow Me On Twitter: @BostonDiGiorgio
The NHL season consists of many constants each year, one of which is trade rumors. February is typically the fifth month of the season and is home to the trade deadline. In the COVID NHL shortened-season, February is the second month of the season, and April will host the trade deadline. Teams have a limited amount of time to evaluate their teams’ needs before the playoffs. Two huge names have already been traded in a blockbuster deal. Pierre-Luc Dubois and Patrik Laine were former top-three NHL draft picks and were flipped after publicly requesting a trade. Last week, another former top-five pick publicly requested a trade.
Sam Bennett was selected fourth overall in 2014, which is the same year the Bruins chose their first-line winger, David Pastrnak. Bennett has played seven years in Calgary, amassing 129 points in 373 games. Bennett, who is listed as a center, has a 48% success rate at the face-off dot over his career.
Bennett’s career-high in goals and points came in his rookie season in 2015-2016 with 18 and 36, respectively. Since then, unfortunately, he has yet to surpass the 30 point total and has recently found himself on Calgary’s taxi squad. The NHL created the taxi squad this year to allow teams to carry four to six additional players to practice (one goalie minimum) and travel with the team if they are recalled on short notice. In Bennett’s recent demotion, he was healthy scratched, which pushed Bennett to publicly request a trade out of Calgary.
World Hockey Report continues with a subtweet saying, “As @FriedgeHNIC would say: there are guys who get you there and guys who push you through. Gaudreau would get you to the playoffs, but Bennett would push you through.” Bennett’s career playoff numbers support this theory, as he has 19 points in 30 games. He is tough as nails, racking up ten fights in his short career. He’d likely slot in with Charlie Coyle on Boston’s third line when the team is at full health.
Calgary has $466K in cap space today, and Bennett’s cap hit is an affordable $2.55M. Considering Bennett is a young 26-year old forward, the Flames would likely ask for a similar aged NHL forward or defenseman in return. The Bruins could unload Kase to the Flames after his slow start in Boston. The money would work because Kase’s cap hit is $50K more than Bennett’s, and both will be restricted free agents this summer. Kase’s injury history could scare the Flames off a bit, making Boston have to sweeten the pot a bit or choose a different player to send back to Calgary, such as Anders Bjork.
The truth of the matter is, the Bruins do not need another middle-six forward who has potential at the top-six. They have a plethora of players at that position who are either still finding their game or have improved tremendously over the past year. The Bruins need to focus their attention on actual needs rather than former top-five picks who need a change of scenery.
Anders Bjork and Ondrej Kase are two of the players who have yet to solidify their role with Boston. Bjork began the year on the first line but has stumbled down to the fourth line. He has found success with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner, but Bruins fans hoped he’d fill a role on the top-six by now. IT would be premature to move on from his services right now.
Kase has not scored his first goal as a Bruin and finds himself again on the injury report. Bjork is signed for the next three years, while Kase is playing the last season of a three-year deal. The Bruins spent a lot of draft capital on Kase, and the former first-round pick has yet to find a rhythm here. It would be a shame if he were traded out of town just a year later.
Trent Frederic is an example of a player who has improved tremendously and has won Bruins’ fans’ hearts with his tenacity and toughness. He doesn’t score many points, but he is always in the corner mucking it up with the opposition. He could be the type of player that gets you through the playoffs. Nick Ritchie got off to a slow start last season but has been featured on the top powerplay unit and has nine points in eleven games this season. He currently plays on David Krejci’s left side and makes it hard on Head Coach Bruce Cassidy to move him off.
If the Bruins start an active campaign on the trade front, they should bolster their top-six forward or defensive groups. Their middle and bottom-six forward group is arguably their deepest part of the roster. It is understood that some players who are included in the middle and bottom-six have taken longer to develop. Some of the names mentioned above have shown flashes of their ceiling, and moving on from them now would be premature.
The Bruins sit atop the Eastern Conference and have secured a point in 10 of the 11 games played this year. Things can change quickly in the NHL, especially in a shortened season but until that happens, let’s ride with what we have.