By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn
With NHL trade rumors heating up, fans of every franchise are stuck refreshing their Twitter feeds and waiting for news from an insider. The Bruins have made huge trades around the trade deadline in the last two seasons. In both cases, however, the Bruins were chasing teams above them for seeding or a playoff spot.
This year, things are different. The Bruins are far and away the best team in the league to this point. In the race to reach the Stanley Cup at the top of the NHL’s proverbial mountain, the Bruins are farther ahead than any competitor. Still, rumors of the Bruins landing a big target have begun to swirl. Recently, Mike Sullivan looked at how the Bruins could land Arizona star Jakob Chychrun.
While it would be nice to land a big name, or even some extra role players, with the state of the Bruins’ salary cap, I began to wonder if this team is good enough to do nothing at the deadline and still win the Cup. Teams around the league have started bulking up for a playoff run, so let’s look at some of the more significant moves and how this Bruins team stacks up.
The biggest name on the move is, of course, Vladimir Tarasenko. The hockey world was stunned when news dropped on Thursday that the Russian forward was being sent to Madison Square Garden to become the newest member of the New York Rangers. Not only is this a big deal because he is a former 40-goal scorer that will now be on a line with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, but the Rangers are also last year’s Eastern Conference finalists.
The other New York team also made a big move recently. The Islanders won the Bo Horvat sweepstakes – which the Bruins were rumored to be interested in – and added a player who has already secured a 30-goal season to a team who went to the 2021 Eastern Conference finals. The Metropolitan Division is much more competitive than the Atlantic, and both New York teams are right in the thick of the playoff race.
Even in the Western Conference, teams have started to load up on depth pieces that could contribute to their playoff ambitions. The Seattle Kraken and the Colorado Avalanche have acquired pieces from the San Jose Sharks in preparation for the postseason. Seattle acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna, and Colorado added veteran Matt Nieto to their forward core. Either of those teams could come out of the Western Conference as a Stanley Cup finalist, so the Bruins may have to face them as their final test if they can get that far.
Without Jake DeBrusk, the Bruins have looked vulnerable. That scares me as a fan who wants to see this team win. However, from all the reports, it sounds like DeBrusk will not be out much longer. When this team is at full strength, I don’t think they need to make any additions to compete against any team in the league, no matter what trades are made. They have dominated the league to a point where no trade can bring another team to that level.
The problem is that the vulnerability shown by DeBrusk’s absence raises a more significant issue. Almost no team makes it through the Stanley Cup Playoffs unscathed. So the Bruins will likely have to deal with injuries along the way. If it’s a player from one of the bottom lines, the Bruins probably have enough depth in the minors to plug that hole. If they lose a guy from the top two lines, though, I worry that it might throw off the balance of the team just enough to allow a team to steal four games in a series.
Don Sweeney does not have to go out and make a blockbuster move this season. But if he wants to do that, I’ll be the first to celebrate (as long as it is a fair deal). All he needs to do this season is pick up a solid depth piece that can allow the Bruins to slide a guy up from the third line into the top two lines if they need to. They need a forward and a defenseman in an ideal world, but that may be asking for too much. Despite some of the off-ice messes within the last year, I have faith in Sweeney to assess this situation and make the correct move to give this team the best chance to run the table and bring home one more Cup with this core.
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