By: Matthew Cahill | Follow me on Twitter @MWCahill5
The Boston Bruins have gone through a bit of a rough patch in the last month, as they’ve fallen from the top of the East Division standings to holding onto the fourth and final playoff spot by four points over the Philadelphia Flyers. They have a tremendous scoring top line in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak, but after that, the team’s goal production takes a big hit. In games this season where Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak do not score, the team has a record of 4-6-1, and their secondary scoring seems almost nonexistent. Does that sound familiar? The Bruins have been missing secondary scoring for quite a few years now, and if management decides they’re willing to make a move at the deadline, there are a few players that could be available that could help improve it.
Let’s start with the one that’s been generating a lot of buzz recently, Taylor Hall. Hall chose to sign with the Sabres this offseason on a one-year, $8 million deal, but things have not gone according to Buffalo’s plan. With the trade deadline approaching, and the Sabres sitting in last place in the entire NHL with 20 points, they’ll undoubtedly be trying to deal Hall by April 12th. After missing out on him in October, he could be available for Boston to make a move to acquire him. However, it would have to come at the right price for the Bruins, as Buffalo’s initial asking price is reported to include at least a first-round pick.
In the current flat cap status of the NHL, first-round draft picks are going to be very valuable. Hall’s disappointing play so far this season in Buffalo raises some eyebrows as to whether he’d be worth such a big investment, as he’s scored just two goals and only has 18 points in 36 games. Add in his unrestricted free agent status at the end of the season, and teams may be unwilling to pay such a high price for a potential rental whose play has been underwhelming. However, Hall’s production is certainly not being helped by the way the Sabres are playing, and he’s a player who has shown that he can play at a high level, winning the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2018. If the Bruins are able to get Buffalo to bring their asking price down, as other teams will almost certainly try to do as well, he could be worth taking a shot at.
It’s no secret that the Ducks have struggled in recent years, as they’ve missed the playoffs the last two seasons and are on pace to do so for a third straight. With them sitting in last place in the West Division, they’ll most likely be looking to sell some pieces for the future at the deadline. One of those pieces could be right-wing Rickard Rakell.
Rakell is a player with a great shot, scoring 30 goals in back-to-back seasons three years ago. He also demonstrated good playmaking ability during that stretch, combining for 53 assists throughout both seasons. This season, Rakell has just seven goals and 22 points in 36 games; however, Don Sweeney and Ducks general manager Bob Murray showed last season they seem to have a good relationship when it comes to getting deals done. Sweeney has also shown that he’s willing to ignore underwhelming numbers from players on struggling teams if he believes they can make a difference for the Bruins.
We saw this at last year’s trade deadline in both deals with Anaheim, as Sweeney acquired Ondrej Kase with just seven goals and 23 points in 49 games, and Nick Ritchie with just eight goals and 19 points in 41 games. With Rakell’s recently sustained head injury against the Blues at the end of March, there is some cause for concern; however, when healthy, he could be a value add for the Bruins and help spark some life and production into a lineup that desperately needs it.
In the end, if the Bruins are to make a move to try and improve their offense at the deadline, it’s going to come down to what Boston’s management prioritizes. Whether that be the team’s secondary scoring, backend, or ultimately their future, it will be interesting to see if the Bruins make a move for one last push with its current core, sell an unexpected piece or two for the future, or sit still and ride out what has been an up and down season.