Boston Bruins Mailbag: Marching Forward

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Andrew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter @justyouknowwhyyy

New month, new mailbag! As is customary, I went to the far reaches of the internet to pull questions, and you did not disappoint yet again.

As usual, questions have been edited for clarity. As usual, thank you all for your engagement. You guys are amazing. Without further ado: onto the letters.

What are your thoughts on 2020 second-rounder Mason Lohrei?

– Drew G

Mason Lohrei’s ascent into somewhat of a USHL demigod has started a wide-reaching debate of the USHL’s spot in the Junior Hockey pecking order. Kirk Leudeke wrote an excellent piece back in January exploring Lohrei’s start in conjunction with the league he’s playing in. Bruins Network has put together quite a sizzle reel of Lohrei’s plays and the little things he has done well. It’s enough to get you hyped. Lohrei is a kid with size, strength, fluid skating, and a bit of “do not mess with me” that automatically endears himself to Bruins fans that watch “who’s next,” and his domination of a junior league in his D+1 year should not go unnoticed. So much so that there’s been talk of fans wanting him to forgo his commitment to Ohio State for next year and go right into Providence, and from a developmental standpoint, I disagree with that. Lohrei is going to be damn good, his skills are real, and there is potential for a home run here, But we should hit the breaks just a little bit and let him play where the competition ramps up, there is no harm in getting a better read on him in that way.

Just one of many examples of Lohrei’s supreme confidence

At this point, where does Charlie McAvoy fall on a 2016 redraft?

– Danielle N

I have oscillated wildly between second and fourth depending on what a team would place value in. (Auston Matthews is number one with a bullet). But I certainly believe he would be the first defenseman taken in a re-draft and would be no lower than a top-five pick. It all depends if you were looking for a future 1C (Dubois), a legitimate sniper on the wing (Laine), An all-around offensive dynamo (Debrincat), or a 23-year old defenseman that is already in the Norris conversation. What hard decisions.

When the forward corps is at full-strength would you rather see Jack Studnicka back in Providence? Or stay up in Boston even though he’d be playing on the 4C?

– The Army Bear

100%. Studnicka has earned the opportunity to ply his trade at his natural position. After starting this season on the wing out of necessity, Studnicka has proven to be far more comfortable at center. While versatility is valued on the Boston Bruins, sometimes you have to let guys play where they play their best; I said as much on the latest episode of the Short Shift Podcast. And besides, playing on the fourth line isn’t a death sentence. The fourth line is still valuable NHL time, something that would aid his development far more than playing in Providence would at this point of his career.

Kids are awesome

Do the Bruins have assets to get two deadline rentals? Ekholm and Palmieri would bring them a lot closer to Tampa than I’d like to admit.

– Dave W

The Bruins certainly have the assets to swing a trade for one, but probably not both. In my opinion, however, there is not a pressing need for a forward nearly as much as a defenseman. Ekholm is a perfect target: Can fill the top-4 on the depth chart, plays the left side, and is on an absolute sweetheart of a deal on a team that is about an ant’s breath from blowing it up and starting over. With injuries to Gryzlcyk and Lauzon, the “play” of John Moore, and the recent acquisition of Jarred Tinordi, the front office probably agrees that this is part of the team the needs reinforcing far more than the wing. Something to monitor closely for the next five weeks.

Is there any chance that Sweeney tries to re-sign David Krejci?

– Danny H

There is always a chance that the David Krejci re-signs, especially with Boston primed to become flush with cap space in the upcoming offseason. It is not etched in stone, but if Don Sweeney believes that next year is the last year of the Bruins contending window, an opinion I would share if that’s true, I could easily see Krejci signing for about 4.5 million. Krejci still has a lot of value as a second-line playmaker. Age has started to become a bit of a factor but at one more year and a reduced rate? I can see it. But as of right now, I put the odds at a firm 50/50; there are a lot of factors that could lead to his ouster: Age, Jack Studnicka’s development, how the rest of this year goes. Those questions cannot be answered until the end of the year. So watch and wait.

Should the Bruins re-sign Nick Ritchie or sell high after the expansion draft? How surprising has his season been?

– Zach C

Keep the big man. Something I would have never imagined saying at the beginning of the year, but as of right now, Nick Ritchie has played his way into the 7-3-1 format of expansion protection; if he keeps up his play, he’s earned a very nice raise. The fact that he is an RFA makes this an even easier decision.

Sign this Man!

Why is Steven Kampfer so low on the depth chart? I think he’s a far smarter, tougher player than John Moore and tends to make good plays without shying away from the rough stuff. I know he’s not the big name on the taxi squad but he generally plays a solid 15-18 minutes a game.

– Mario T

I have been waiting for an opportunity to give Kampfer some love in this space. Kampfer is on the depth chart at about the spot he should be, but in this latest go-around with Boston, Kampfer has shown everything that you described, Mario. Kampfer is a player that should have immense respect in the room, comes in, does his job, plays low-event hockey. I always have time for Steven Kampfer.

Always love for a fellow motor-mouth

What does Trent Frederic’s next deal look like? 5 years, $25 million, right?

– Andrew T

Sure, why not? The cap is no object! All kidding aside, Frederic has gained a lot of favor in his time so far here in Boston, while I have been a little “outspoken” over certain aspects of the game not being generally up to an NHL level. His play in the last two weeks is starting to change my thinking a little bit, so I’ll say unless he gets a scoring touch, I’ll give him a two-year, $1 million AAV bridge as of right now. Like the Krejci deal, we will need to revisit this later.

Well, he hasn’t gained favor with *everyone*

Does Jake Debrusk need a change of scenery? What would his return look like?

– Bel M

Jake Debrusk has become Boston’s whipping boy. As such, there have been calls for his ouster. But it would behoove Bruins fans to understand a few things, with the two most important being. The Bruins are not going to jettison a bridge deal for a 24-year old winger who had previously graded out to be a firm second liner, and injuries have dictated that Debrusk plays on his off-side, a spot where he seems very uncomfortable. However, four points in 19 games while having long stretches of what seems like disengagement is unacceptable. The calls are getting much louder for something to be done, but those two main factors dictate that Boston will let Debrusk attempt to ride it out. For better or for worse.

Yeesh

Do you think the Bruins make a big trade at the deadline or do we going to hope everyone gets healthy for the playoffs? In a trade who would you like to see brought in?

– G-Hops

I mentioned Ekholm at the beginning. Ekholm is my favorite target for such a deal; I do not think that deal should be considered big, though it would be a significant shift. Failing that, a target I’ve been a fan of for a long time now is Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard. A smaller acquisition, but Savard is a big-bodied, tough, two-way D-man who can play both sides. It may not solve the top-4 hole. However, it would solidify the depth.

With all of the injuries plaguing the back-end, are you ready to admit that the Bruins made a huge mistake in letting go of Zdeno Chara? Why have you been so insistent that Boston made the right move in moving on? If he was “weighing down” McAvoy, why not just play him with someone else?

– David P

For this context, It is less about the individual and more about team composition. If a player playing with your best defenseman by a mile in Charlie McAvoy is actively making said D-man worse, there’s no reason to burden him with the others. Playing with guys like Lauzon and Zboril, whose play he has played a vital role in elevating, has made the movement, team speed, etc., much better. Acknowledging that the Bruins need a top-4 D at the deadline while realizing that Chara was not “the guy” is the only take that makes sense. Far too many have let their emotions get in the way; Chara looked cooked. Ultimately Cassidy didn’t want to babysit that (Hence the reserve role he would have taken), he’s been heavily sheltered in Washington and doing okay there, and that’s fine, but he just was no longer a fit in Boston. In an editorial aside: I still do not understand how moving on from a 43-year-old defenseman who looked shot has caused so much local caterwauling. But here we are.

Does this trade get it done? Boston acquires Jack Eichel & Jeff Skinner. Buffalo acquires John Moore, Anders Björk, a 1st round draft pick, and a 2nd round draft pick.

– Bobby B.

I don’t have the mental bandwidth to answer this in long-form, so here’s a tweet:

Fresh, but necessary

And that’s it! Thank you again to everybody who submitted questions! As usual, your engagement in this sport we all love is an honor and privilege. And usual: Go, Bruins!

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