Boston Bruins: Marcus Johansson Is Not A Bad Consolation Prize

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images-Mike Stobe

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

He may not be Mark Stone or Artemi Panarin, but Marcus Johansson is a solid addition to the Boston Bruins. At the final minutes of the Trade Deadline, the Bruins finally brought in their much needed forward. To secure Johansson’s services, the  Bruins parted ways with this season’s second-round pick, as well as their 2020 fourth-round pick. This is a pretty small price for a player of Johansson’s caliber. In 48 games this season, Johansson has 12 goals and a fairly impressive 27 points.

One important factor to note about Johansson is that he has been playing on a Devils team that has struggled immensely to put up any offense. This is displayed by the fact that they are in the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference standings. However, Johansson truly could see his offensive numbers spike, especially with him expected to join the second-line. This may change when David Pastrnak comes back, but that is not expected to occur for at least another two weeks. That is a major reason why a trade for Johansson needed to happen now.

When observing this roster all season, it has been clear that secondary scoring was desperately needed. Nobody has been able to slot into the second-line effectively, but Johansson should be able to do so. In a worst-case scenario, Johansson could end up playing on the third line with the newly acquired Charlie Coyle. That certainly would not look bad either, as it is clear that they have added a significant depth piece to this fine roster.

Johansson also is a player who has had a lot of playoff experience because of his tenure with the Washington Capitals. Although he was not part of the team during their Stanley Cup win last postseason, he played in them consistently since the start of his career. In 72 career playoff games, he has registered 30 points. That definitely does not scream clutch, but it is essential to remember that his playing time was limited throughout a lot of their postseason runs. His best postseason came in 2017 when he registered 8 points in 13 games, due to the fact that he had a much bigger role that year. Oh, and he scored the series-winning goal against the Leafs that postseason.

There is absolutely no question that the idea of adding a superstar to the team this Trade Deadline was one that many fans were yearning for. Although the Bruins are legitimate contenders, they have a serious uphill battle with teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning in their way. However, they clearly made the right call with this move. Instead of throwing away at least one top prospect, a roster player and their first-round pick for a rental, they kept the team together and made them far deeper. This is a trade that has far less of a risk factor than last year’s Rick Nash one as well.

At the end of the day, it is exciting that Johansson is part of the team. He has a wonderful chance to play with some spectacular players in Boston. There is no question that Jake DeBrusk will love to have another passer on his line. This will provide him with more scoring opportunities. When looking at this team now versus a week ago, they truly are far deeper and are poised to make some noise in the postseason. Overall, General Manager Don Sweeney does deserve some praise for this last-minute deal, instead of the harsh criticism that seems to be coming his way.

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The Bruins Miss Out On Gustav Nyquist

( PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images-Brian Babineau )

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

Gustav Nyquist was one of the top-six wingers that the Bruins were linked to this Trade Deadline. However, it has been reported that he has been traded to the San Jose Sharks for a second-round pick, as well as a third-round selection. It is important to note that the third-round pick will turn into a second if the Sharks make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, or if he decides to re-sign there. However, even if that occurs, it is clear that this was not a large package for a very solid scorer.

The Bruins were reportedly close to making a deal happen with the Red Wings, but they ultimately decided to avoid trading within the division. This makes sense, as it could have been possible that Nyquist would have liked to stay in Boston after the trade. However, his services would have been greatly appreciated in Beantown. He would have been the perfect second-line winger, especially when seeing as how the Bruins likely would have been able to keep their first-rounder in a move.

When looking at Nyquist’s statistics, it is clear that he is a very effective forward at the NHL level. This season has been a particularly solid one for the veteran, as he has put up 16 goals and 49 points in 62 games. Keep in mind, he has been playing with an offensively weak Red Wings club. It is fair to assume that he would have slotted perfectly on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. Yet, he will likely have a lot of fun in San Jose though with their stacked offensive core.

The list of players available is definitely decreasing, and this will continue to occur as the day progresses. In terms of an overall fit, Nyquist very well could have the been the perfect one. If Wayne Simmonds was the same player he was three years ago, he would be a great addition, but his offensive numbers are decreasing rapidly. The idea of acquiring Mark Stone is a very appealing one, but at the same time, it would end up costing the Bruins an immense amount. Nyquist, on the other hand, clearly would have been a solid gamble, even if his offensive numbers are a bit lower than Stone’s.

After the Bruins went on their seven-game winning streak, it became even clearer that they need to be buyers. There is definitely potential for them to have a deep playoff run, but if they are to succeed, it is absolutely essential that they bring in a top-six forward. They simply need to improve upon the lineup that they currently have. The addition of Charlie Coyle gave them the solid third-line center they were searching for, but more is needed. The Atlantic Division has become the best one in the NHL, so the Bruins need to keep up.

Losing out on Gustav Nyquist is not something that is going to sink the Bruins’ season. However, he definitely would have been a solid addition if a deal came into fruition. One cannot blame the Red Wings for deciding to go against trading with the Bruins, but man, bringing in a player of Nyquist’s caliber for that price would have been perfect. Alas, we will have to see what the Bruins end up doing in the upcoming hours.

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Boston Bruins: Jake DeBrusk Breaking The Cold Streak

PHOTO CREDIT: Maddie Meyer-Getty Images

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

With David Pastrnak expected to miss at least two weeks, it is now time for the Bruins’ secondary scoring to wake up. In last night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, it is clear that they took a step in the right direction. Danton Heinen has been fitting in perfectly with the first-line and is quickly silencing his critics. However, one must not forget that Jake DeBrusk also broke the ice last night. With him registering three points, it seems as though he is finally heading in the right direction to break out of his slump.

One important factor to note is that once DeBrusk gets going, he has shown that he can play at a very effective level. After starting the year off in a similarly slow fashion, he ended up going on a stretch where he was scoring at will. With that being stated, there is no question that he has the ability to be a difference maker at the NHL level. With Pastrnak out, he is going to receive even more opportunities to shine. It is now time for him to play at a consistent level.

This time of year is crucial when it comes to getting points. Although the Bruins are in a spot where the playoffs seem like a sure thing, history has shown that anything can happen in this league. Scoring from players like DeBrusk and Heinen are a necessity at this point in time. However, in a sense, there is an unsaid high level of expectations toward DeBrusk. He is a former first-rounder who has already shown in spurts that he can resemble an elite sniper in this league. It just is a matter of staying at that level permanently.

The NHL Trade Deadline could also be massive for DeBrusk. There is no question that the Bruins are looking to acquire a top-six winger. Artemi Panarin has been the major name that the team is linked to, but it is not limited to just him. There are plenty of rentals who can slot on that line who could help DeBrusk’s offensive consistency blossom, such as Micheal Ferland and Wayne Simmonds. Bringing in a legitimate second-line winger would be the best action for not only DeBrusk but the entire team in general.

Criticism has been handed DeBrusk’s way during his cold streak, and it is justifiable in a sense. There is no question that the team should expect their second-line winger to produce at a solid pace. At certain points, one may argue that he has looked invisible on the ice as well. However, at the same time, the line has struggled to find solid chemistry all season. When a team is constantly changing up lines, it can leave a negative impact. With him being a young player, it makes sense as to why this has occurred.

At the end of the day, it is quite apparent that the importance of DeBrusk breaking this streak is at an immense level. The Bruins have the potential to do something special this postseason, but they need players like him to play their bests. At one point of the season, it seemed likely that DeBrusk easily could have had a 25-goal campaign. The potential is there, but more importantly, the consistency needs to be as well. Expect these last few months of the regular season to lead to him breaking out. Last night truly was the start of that.

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Boston Bruins: The Frank Vatrano Trade One Year Later

PHOTO CREDIT: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

It has been roughly one year since the Boston Bruins sent Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers for their 2018 third-round pick. The Bruins used this pick to draft versatile forward, Jakub Lauko. The future looks bright for Lauko, as he is currently playing well with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL.

Yet, it appears that Vatrano has truly cemented himself as a top-six forward at the NHL level with the Panthers.  A huge reason behind this is the fact that the team has given him a chance to thrive in offensive situations. It also helps that he is playing with an emerging two-way center in Vincent Trocheck. However, even with this being the case, Vatrano’s offensive potential has always been present. It was just a matter of him finding it consistently.

In 2015-16, Vatrano truly blossomed as a star at the AHL level when he registered 36 goals in just as many games with the Providence Bruins. This truly is a rare feat and one that warranted immense praise at the time. This would result in the team giving him a chance at the NHL level, and he would secure a spot with the team by providing some solid secondary scoring.

More of the same occurred in 2016-17 from him, but last season was when everything seemed to go downhill. He soon would find himself a healthy scratch with the team, as rookie forwards Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen outplayed him. Vatrano’s offense essentially was gone. He would only register two goals in 25 games with the team, and he failed to thrive in a defensive role. This is why the trade occurred.

When the move was made, it was met with a decent amount of praise. Getting a third rounder for a struggling forward was far more than what was expected. However, as soon as Vatrano arrived in Florida, he quickly found his scoring touch again. This was ultimately the risk of trading him. Management knew that he was a player who had offensive upside, but it simply could not occur with him playing in a bottom-six role.

Now, that is not to say that this move was a bad one. It was evident that Vatrano being scratched every night was not doing anything for his game, nor for the Bruins. However, it is clear that at this point in time, his services would be greatly appreciated. Depth scoring is seriously at a premium right now for the club. Nobody after the first-line, aside from David Krejci, has been able to provide consistent scoring for the team.

When looking at Vatrano stats this season, it is clear that he has been to maintain offensive success. In 49 games this season, he has been able to register 17 goals and 27 points. That is not necessarily an all-star campaign, but it is evident that it would be welcomed in Boston right now. In fact, it honestly can be said that it is desperately needed.

There is no way to prove that Vatrano would have been able to have this success playing Boston this year. In fact, one could argue that it would have been unlikely because of how far he fell down the depth chart. However, in a sense, this just shows how quickly everything can change in a matter of one season. The Bruins were at the top of the league in depth scoring last year, but now are struggling immensely. Meanwhile, Vatrano has gone from a 13th forward to a top-six one in Florida.

If one had to give a verdict on this deal, it is clear that Florida slightly has the upper hand right now. However, Lauko had an impressive rookie camp this year and has an abundance of potential. Also, the real question is if Vatrano can carry this success into later seasons. It is apparent that consistency has been an issue for him so we will see.

At the end of the day, this was just a solid hockey trade for all parties involved.

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The Underappreciated Bruin: David Krejci

PHOTO CREDIT: Winslow Townson / USA Today Sports

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

David Krejci has been an integral piece of the Boston Bruins’ lineup for over a decade. During this time, he has consistently been a reliable top-six forward. His ability to be an intelligent playmaker is what has allowed him to find a solid amount of success in the league. He was the leading scorer in both the 2011 and 2013 NHL postseasons as well. However, as time has passed, it is clear that his offensive production has dropped off just a tad bit. This can be blamed on a number of situations.

Perhaps the biggest reason behind his point totals dropping is the fact that he has not been given steady linemates since the departures of both Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. Instead, he has been forced to create chemistry with new players, only for them to be dealt elsewhere or moved to different lines. The fact of the matter is that Krejci simply has not been playing with top-notch talent for a handful of seasons.

However, this is quickly changing with the emergence of Jake DeBrusk as a true sniper. It seems that he is definitely finding his potential. DeBrusk did have success last year with the team, but this season he is showing that he is capable of producing at a higher level. This is spectacular to see because Krejci is now registering an abundance of assists as a result of this. In fact, he has a total of 17 of them in just 23 games thus far. Although he only has two goals to go along with that, he is still producing at a level that we have not seen from over the last few seasons.

Yet, what is even more intriguing is the fact that the left wingers he has played with this season have struggled when it comes to offense. Joakim Nordstrom continues to land himself a spot on the second-line, but this is not ideal. Although he has done everything the team has asked for and displays an immense amount of effort, five points in 22 games are not going to cut it. Danton Heinen, a player who was supposed to make a big jump this season, also has struggled when playing on the line. He also has only five points.

It is quite clear that the team should make a deal. This obviously is a bit more challenging during this point of the season. However, picking up a right winger to play with Krejci would be an incredibly wise decision. There is going to be a handful of rentals available at the deadline who could fit in perfectly. If the Philadelphia Flyers continue to struggle, Wayne Simmonds could be the ideal candidate because he is a power forward with a strong nose to the net. Everyone knows Krejci has had most of his success playing with bigger forwards. He would also be able to protect the star talent of the team.

There is no question that some fans want to see more from Krejci offensively. However, even with this being the case, he has been doing enough. In fact, when looking at this current line situation, one could argue that he is excelling immensely. Him having a $7 million cap hit does bring him a lot of expectations, but for the most part this season, he has reached them. Although he has fewer points than the members of the best first-line in all of hockey, he is not that far behind them. Perhaps linking up him and David Pastrnak for a handful of games could even be a smart move.

At the end of the day, Krejci is a center who has never seemed to receive the praise he deserves. There is no question that he is a bit overshadowed by Patrice Bergeron, but that makes sense. Bergeron is arguably the best two-way forward of this generation. However, Krejci has been a spectacular piece of the Bruins as well. Without him in the lineup, the team would be struggling even more with their offensive production. If the B’s could get him another winger in the near future, it would be golden for everyone involved. With everything that Krejci has accomplished in his tenure here, it is well deserved.

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Boston Bruins: Let’s Talk David Backes

PHOTO CREDIT: Charles Krupa / Sportsnet

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

When the Boston Bruins signed David Backes to a five-year, $30 million deal during the 2016 NHL Offseason, it was met with mixed reviews. There is no question that the former Blues’ captain was expected to be a top-six forward for the team. He had been one of the best power forwards in the league for a number of years at that time. However, many analysts felt that the term on the deal would end up hurting the Bruins. As we are now in the 2018-19 season, it is now time for us to be a bit worried that this may end up being the case.

It is absolutely clear that the veteran has struggled this season so far. He has been held pointless in 12 games and already had another concussion scare this season. Injuries have definitely been hitting him frequently since he began his tenure with the team, but none more so than with his head. This could likely be what is behind his significant drop in production this season, as he received another concussion during the postseason last year.

It is also clear that last season he had a decent amount of success playing on the third line. With 33 points in 57 games, it is fair to state that he was providing the team with some very solid secondary scoring. Although the numbers did not necessarily replicate the $6 million cap hit he possesses, it did show that he was a valuable part of this lineup. So with that being said, it is pretty concerning seeing the extremely cold start he has had this season. One has to wonder if he could turn it around.

However, for that to occur, he has to fight his way back up the depth chart. With the promotion given to Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Backes now finds himself on the fourth line right wing. This definitely is not ideal for the veteran, as his chances to provide offense are significantly lower playing on this defense-first line. JFK has also noticeably given the third-line better speed up the middle, so Backes is in a pretty rough spot if it translates to more offensive production from that line.

Another significant reason behind his drop in production is the loss of Riley Nash. There is absolutely no question that the two worked exceptionally well together. However, with Nash signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Danton Heinen occasionally being promoted to the second-line, Backes has been given an array of different linemates all season. In fact, he has been forced to be back at center, a position that he just does fit well in anymore.

Playing on the fourth line is just not the best situation for him to be in. Now, with his struggling play, it is justifiable that he is there. Yet, as soon as he finds his game again, he should be given more chances. In fact, with the looming questions in the top-six, perhaps the team should give him a go on the second-line if the lack of scoring continues. Although his speed has clearly gotten slower over the years, David Krejci has had a lot of success playing with power forwards.

It is fair to state that everyone in the lineup is rooting for the veteran to improve. Although it may seem unlikely to some, it is possible for him to find his game again. Twelve games without a point is very concerning, but that does not mean that he can never turn it into a hot streak. However, for him to see results, he does need to be given more opportunities to shine.  Now is not the time to close the door on Backes completely. He has had a fantastic career up to this point and could easily become a factor in the lineup again under the right circumstances.  

Boston Bruins: Ryan Donato Will Be Back

PHOTO CREDIT: Amy Irving / The Hockey Writers

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

Earlier this week, the Boston Bruins assigned Ryan Donato back down to Providence. The move seemed to be inevitable, as David Backes is returning to the lineup and Donato has noticeably been struggling. From the very start of the year, the team just has not seemed to find a good spot for Donato in the lineup. As a result of this, his offensive statistics have been truly lacking.  In 11 games for the Bruins, he has only scored one goal and is a -4.

There is no question that Donato simply did not perform to the standards that the team had hoped he would. When looking at his amazing short stint with the team last season, it is fair to state that the team expected more from him now. In twelve regular season games, he had five goals and nine points. For a 22-year-old rookie, that truly was impressive. The excitement for him this season was very high, especially when looking at his collegiate success as well. Yet, it just did not click this time around.

However, even with all of this being the case, we have not seen the last of Donato. Younger players sometimes go through cold streaks. In all fairness, this move is entirely warranted by the team. In Providence, Donato will have the chance to be a top-six forward again and work on honing his offensive skills. At times this season with the big club, he looked invisible on the ice. A lot of this can be blamed on the fact that his line simply was unable to find chemistry together.

The biggest obstacle the Bruins have faced this season is their lack of secondary scoring. Donato is not the only player who has struggled for the team, but it is clear that he needs some time to refine his game altogether. It is better for him to play a lot of minutes in the AHL and find success. He simply is not a player who would have been able to fit on the fourth line. The team needs more defensive players with grit in those situations.

Donato’s time in Providence is going to carry a lot of significance moving forward. It is absolutely clear that the 2018 Hobey Baker finalist is still one of the top prospects that this team has. However, he was treading in the wrong direction with the limited amount of playing time he was receiving. With more chances to succeed in Providence and less overall pressure, this could be the best move for his career right now. Head coach Bruce Cassidy has even stated that he wants the youngster to work on becoming a complete player down there.

It is easy to point the finger at the player in a situation like this, but now is not the time to give up on Donato completely. One rough patch in the league does not mean the end of his career. Many prospects end up going through something like this and then develop into top-notch players. After the way he started off his NHL career, there is no reason to believe that he cannot reach that level of success. Yet, like Cassidy said, he needs to develop an all-around game.

PHOTO CREDIT: Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

It is only a matter of time before Donato will be back in Boston. He is clearly the first forward they will call up with an injury, and of course, they occur quite often. However, when it comes to the long-term, this is a player who still has a bright future. Hopefully, his time in Providence will wake him up and spark a whole new level of confidence. The Bruins could use that immensely.

Boston Bruins: The Importance Of Jake DeBrusk

PHOTO CREDIT: sportingnews.com

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

When the Boston Bruins drafted Jake DeBrusk with the 14th overall selection of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, there was a bit of skepticism throughout the fan base. This was entirely justifiable. He was ranked as the 28th best skater available in TSN’s final draft rankings. Many people believed that they could have done better with this pick, especially with many top prospects still available. However, as we know now, this pick ended up working out nicely for the team.

After having a fairly solid first season with the Providence Bruins in 2016-17, DeBrusk would make the big club the following year. From there, he would quickly solidify himself a top-six role in the lineup and became an integral part of their offensive core. After registering a strong 43-point campaign, as well as having an amazing postseason series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, fans quickly began to love the youngster.

Now, as we look at this season, it is clear that DeBrusk is not producing as much offensively. In 12 games thus far, he has only registered three goals. However, before hitting the panic button, it is essential to note that he has played very well regardless. It is only a matter of time before he will find his productivity again. He currently ranks third on the team in shots and has constantly been given different linemates. With all respect to Joakim Nordstrom and Danton Heinen, they just have not been the right players to replace Rick Nash on that line. This is a significant reason behind his drop in production.

Boston Bruins vs Edmonton Oilers

PHOTO CREDIT: Boston Herald

With all of this being stated, DeBrusk needs to find his offensive touch again. With the season still very much in its beginning stages, it is inevitably going to happen for him. However, it is clear that they need to find a different winger to help with this. DeBrusk is not a natural right winger but has been assigned to this position fairly regularly. This is not ideal for the 21-year-old in his sophomore season. He is very much still adapting to the professional game and has yet to reach his actual prime.

The future is incredibly bright for DeBrusk, and the Bruins need to do whatever it takes to help him continue to develop. Every player reaches cold streaks in their careers, but head coach Bruce Cassidy still needs to find the correct right winger for his line. These beginning seasons are extremely critical, so they must figure it out quickly. The last thing they need is for him to lose his confidence entirely.

At the end of the day, it is absolutely clear that he is going to be a significant part of this team’s future. With him already having some spectacularly clutch moments for the team, it is apparent that more is to come. Although the other Bruins’ first-round picks of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft have not panned out, they found a potential gem in him. However, consistency on his part and a solid support group is a necessity for him to reach his game to the levels where it can truly be.

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PHOTO CREDIT: stanleycupofchowder.com

The NHL season is a long one and DeBrusk’s offensive numbers are going to increase. He has been doing everything else correctly thus far, so he will soon be rewarded. Once this happens, the team will be far more dangerous. Finding him the correct linemates is going to lead to him having another hot streak like he did in the postseason. This will make his cold offensive start completely vanish.