By Dan Cellucci | Follow me on Twitter: @Cellucci_Dan14
In less than one week, when the clock strikes 3 pm ET on Monday, March 22, I will be looking under my metaphorical Christmas tree, hoping to see that Don Sweeney pulled off trade deadline magic and filled all of the Bruins roster needs. For the past month, the list of hypothetical blockbuster trades posted on Twitter has continued to grow and grow as fans have set their hopes high that their team will pull off the biggest deal of the deadline. With big names like Claude Giroux, Jacob Chychrun, Phil Kessel, and our very own Jake Debrusk on the block, teams have the chance to shake up their rosters and either look to rebuild or push for the Stanley Cup. For the Boston Bruins, the latter is the goal almost every year. This year, with the team coming into today red hot and pushing for a top-three seed in the Atlantic, they are a few players away from being considered legitimate Cup contenders.
One player in particular has garnered attention from fans and NHL teams since before the calendar turned. With Jake Debrusk asking for a trade, the door has opened for the Bruins to use him as a critical centerpiece in a move to bring in a high caliber player. At which position, is the question. The Bruins need to fill several “holes” before the deadline, and using Debrusk, and other assets (daft picks and prospects) should bring the Bruins a solid haul in return.
Before I could put together my wish list, I needed to identify the areas that needed improvement. It does not take an expert or an analytically savvy NHL executive to see where the Bruins need upgrades.
Areas to Improve
- 1st line RW
- 2nd line C
- 1st LD
- 3rd RD
- 3rd LD
There have been big names flying around. The Bruins’ have reportedly shown interest in a few. While some are distant dreams, with no chance of being moved, I have targeted and added a handful of players to my wish list this deadline season.
Rickard Rakell, RW: is ideal for solidifying the Bruins’ top line with Bergeron and Marchand. Yes, this would mean sending Jake Debrusk to Anaheim, but this is an upgrade in overall talent and would allow the Bruins to move on from a player that doesn’t want to be here. Rakell has played in parts of 10 NHL seasons and has four seasons over 18 goals scored and netted 33 and 34 for his career highs. This guy can flat-out play and generate more offense which is why he sits atop my wish list.
Tomas Hertl, C: has been rumored in trade talks over the last two months with the Sharks out of the playoff hunt and looking to rebuild. Hertl, an unrestricted free agent after this season, is in his ninth NHL season. The thought of having this guy on the Bruins’ second line with Pastrnak and Hall has my mouth watering and my phone ready to call Don Sweeney and tell him to send the farm. While Erik Haula has been playing great of late, the consistent offense and the veteran leadership that Tomas Hertl would bring would propel the Bruins to fight for a top position in the Atlantic.
Hampus Lindholm, LD: is the ideal guy to slot in on the Bruins top D pair with Charlie McAvoy for two reasons. First, he is an exceptional two-way defender who has the ability to move the puck among the best. Second, he and Rickard Rakell are both upcoming UFAs with Anaheim, making life easier (although more expensive) for GM Don Sweeney and pulling off only one deal for the two. Not that the Bruins necessarily need additional offense from their D core, it doesn’t hurt that Lindholm has produced double-digit goals twice and more than 20 points in all but one of his nine NHL seasons.
Haydn Fleury: might be the biggest surprise of the group, but one that I have had my eyes on since he first appeared on the scene with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2017-18. With the Kraken, Fleury is an upcoming restricted free agent who has only appeared in 31 games this year. His ability to move the puck quickly while playing strong five-on-five hockey from the RD and LD position allows him to slot in on the Bruins 3rd D pairing. The former 7th overall pick has not had the consistent time on ice this year to develop into his true self, but the Bruins’ ability to acquire a guy with this talent for a relatively low price is right up Don Sweeney’s alley.
Travis Sanheim: rounds out my wish list, and his name has been popping up more since the Flyers re-signed Rasmus Ristolainen to a five-year, $25.5M contract extension. Sanheim still has another year left on his deal at a $4.675 cap hit which, for a player of his caliber, might be considered to be on the cheaper side. A LD that, although not overwhelmingly physical, is still a great all-around player that could slide in to the Bruins top 4 D. With the Flyers clearly betting on Ristolainen, the time is now for the Bruins to strike for this talented D man.
Don Sweeney has shown he is not afraid to deal draft picks and prospects. This year, I expect the Bruins to deal a selection of upcoming and future draft picks, one or two prospects, and yes, Jake Debrusk. I only hope that it will be a Black and Gold Christmas in March, and I get everything on my wish list.
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