Breaking Down The Bruins’ 2020 Trade Deadline

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LEFT: Nick Ritchie (37) (Photo: Harry How / Getty Images North America)
RIGHT: Ondrej Kase (25) (Photo by Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Another trade deadline in the National Hockey League has come and gone. With it, we saw the most trades in the history of the deadline (32) and only the second time that 55 total players have been involved in deals.

Once again, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was active in the trade market, with rumors of Boston being in on Ondrej Kase, Joe Thornton, Kyle Palmieri, Chris Kreider, and more heading into the deadline. Like last year’s trade involving Charlie Coyle and Ryan Donato, Sweeney consummated a trade with a few days to spare before the main event on Monday, acquiring Kase from Anaheim on Friday before dealing for Nick Ritchie on Monday.

Here are the details of the deals that Boston made before the 3:00 pm deadline on Monday afternoon:

Friday Feb. 21, 2020

To Anaheim:

F David Backes (25% retained), D Axel Andersson, 2020 1st-Rounder

To Boston:

F Ondrej Kase

Personally, I really like this deal for the Bruins. Either way, Boston was going to have to give up a higher end draft pick at this year’s deadline, and this year’s first was going to be a late pick in all probability. As far as Axel Andersson, while I think he has NHL potential, I’m not sure that he would have been able to contribute to Boston anytime soon, especially considering how loaded the Bruins are in terms of defense prospects. Anaheim gets two good pieces for their rebuild in the first and Andersson.

As for Backes, it feels like a miracle that Sweeney was able to clear his contract off the books, considering he still has a year left. While it would have been nice to completely move it out, only retaining 25% ($1.5 million) is still a huge win for the Bruins moving forward into this coming offseason with pending unrestricted free agents like Torey Krug and Jaroslav Halak and restricted free agents like Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. It was certainly disappointing how Backes’ time in Boston went, but the former Blues captain is a great guy, by all accounts, and will likely get a chance to play in Anaheim.

Although he’s suited up in just one game for the Bruins, the acquisition of Kase has the makings to be an incredible bargain bin deal. The numbers have not really popped off the page this season for the 24-year-old (7-16-23 in 49 games), but there’s reason to believe he will improve his output on a team like Boston, especially if he is playing on David Krejci’s wing.

First off, Kase is an analytics darling, and shoots the puck a ton, registering 135 shots on goal this season and averaging 2.76 shots per game. However, his shooting percentage sits at 5.2% – not great. In Anaheim, Kase bounced around the lineup and was asked to play different roles on each line, but with stability, and the type of talent that Boston can put on the ice each night, it is reasonable to expect the shooting percentage and results to improve – he certainly has the talent for it.

Whats more, the 2014 seventh rounder is under contract at just $2.8 million until the end of next season, and even then Kase will only be an RFA. Also, after scoring 20 goals in the 2017-18 season, (maybe) not coincidentally the last time the Ducks iced a playoff team, Kase has struggled with staying on the ice consistently. If he can stay healthy with the Bruins, and his offensive output improves, the Bruins will have made out like gangbusters.

Monday: Feb. 24, 2020

To Anaheim

F Danton Heinen

To Boston:

F Nick Ritchie

Of course, as I write this article, Ritchie follows a minus-two, zero-shot performance on Tuesday with a goal and an assist against the Stars on Thursday, but either way, I’m not sure how to wrap my head around this one. Sure, the writing was on the wall for Heinen’s time in Boston – his confidence was totally out the window, he was not doing enough offensively, and it felt like he was on the outside looking in – so I support getting him a fresh start. However, the return of Ritchie in a one-for-one swap is where things get a little puzzling.

Like Kase, the numbers have not been dazzling for Ritchie this year, although the advanced stats are solid. The 10th-overall pick in the 2014 draft, Ritchie now has 9-12-21 numbers through 43 games, on pace for about 13-17-30 totals. His career-high for goals (14) came in his first full NHL season in 2016-17, while his career-high in points (31) came last season, his third full season – the previous two seasons he tallied 28 then 27 points.

I will commend Sweeney for the foresight in terms of this coming off-season, like the Kase deal. Compared to Heinen ($2.8 million through next season), Ritchie ($1.49 million through next year) is under a friendlier contract, will be an RFA next summer, and addresses a need within the organization as he brings a bigger body, more physicality, and interior scoring, when he’s clicking.

 

Admittedly, I genuinely want Ritchie to succeed in Boston – I think he could easily become a fan favorite and could hit some of that untapped potential – but it feels like this move has extreme boom or bust potential. Ritchie looked great on Thursday after Tuesday’s not-so-great showing, but I think consistency is a valid concern, especially after the national reaction seemed to label Ritchie as a weighty underachiever with a tendency for the dumb penalty. For me, Ritchie feels a lot like Matt Beleskey in terms of being a big, left-shot wing with a heavy style of play and having a very low floor and a high ceiling, but again, I seriously want to see this move pan out for the Bruins.

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Overall, I think the Bruins made out fine at the deadline, and although I’m a bigger fan of the Kase deal, both trades have boom or bust potential. Sure, it was a little disappointing not to see Kreider or Palmieri end up in the Black and Gold, but we’ve seen bargain bin additions work out in spades for the Bruins in the past (see: Coyle, Marcus Johansson). Boston is certainly better than they were at this time last week, but its worth noting how the rest of the Eastern Conference contenders, like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Washington, and even Carolina, loaded up.

So, did the Bruins do enough compared to the rest of the field? We’ll have to wait and see, but there’s no doubt that this team still has Stanley Cup potential. The stretch run and the playoffs should be electric. Buckle up.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Grading the Bruins’ Deadline Deals

don-sweeney

(Jen Fuller/Getty Images North America)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

This year’s NHL Trade Deadline was one for the record books.  32 trades were executed before the February 24, 2020, 3pm deadline, which broke 2010’s record of 31.  The Bruins accounted for two of the 32 trades, both of which were with the same team.

General Manager Don Sweeney executed two separate trades with the Anaheim Ducks.  The first sent the Bruins’ 2020 first-round draft pick, David Backes, and prospect Axel Andersson for right-winger Ondrej Kase.  The second was a rare one-for-one deal, sending Danton Heinen to Anaheim for Nick Ritchie.  Both trades were executed with a specific need in mind, as well as looking toward future cap space.

It’s no secret that the Bruins have been desperately searching for a right-winger to cement next to David Krejci.  He hasn’t had a formidable, long-standing right-winger since Nathan Horton.  The Bruins have a plethora of wingers in their organization, but none have been able to hold the second-line reigns for long stretches.  They had been scouring the trade market and free agency pools for years, but their cap space kept holding them back from over-extending themselves.

David Backes signed on July 1, 2016, to a 5-year, $30M deal.  His cap hit accounted for $6M each year, which grew increasingly difficult to stomach as a Bruins fan.  The 35-year old centerman grew slower each year and couldn’t keep up with the current NHL pace.  He was a fantastic presence in the room, but that didn’t outweigh his cap hit.  On January 17, 2020, the Bruins made a surprising move.

The move relieved $2M of Backes’ deal from their cap space, and both sides came to an understanding that he would not play in the American Hockey League to stay healthy.  This is known as asset management, which most assumed meant the Bruins were shopping him to other teams.  Executives around the league knew the Bruins would need to sweeten the pot in any trade to rid themselves of the Backes’ deal.

The NHL witnessed the Toronto Maple Leafs pull off a similar trade, sending Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes in June 2019 for a conditional first-round pick and a conditional sixth-round pick.  This set the trade market for risky NHL contracts that a team would want to shed.

The trade also creates cap space next off-season to sign Torey Krug.  Krug is on the last of his 4-year, $21M deal and has been a remarkable offensive weapon for the Bruins.  He is their power-play quarterback and has posted over 50 points in three of the last four years.  Torey is currently on pace to post a career-high 63 points this year.  He will cost at least $6M per on his next deal, and the Bruins finally have some money to give.

Ondrej Kase is a 24-year old right-shot winger who is under contract through 2021.  He carries a $2.6M cap hit and will be a restricted free-agent after 2021.  The Czech Republic native is familiar with David Pastrnak in their Olympic hockey days and will play alongside another fellow Czech in David Krejci.  The move felt like Sweeney wanted to accomplish two things: get Krejci a winger who can contribute now and get younger.

Kase has underachieved in his three and a half years in Anaheim.  He’s reached the 20-goal plateau once and has been a versatile weapon.  He can play in all facets of the game, from power-play to penalty kill.  He stands at 6’0 183 pounds and is exceptionally shifty.

The one knock on his resume is his injury history.   He was traded from Anaheim on the Injured Reserve List, and the Bruins are going to be cautious with his return.  The Bruins sit atop the NHL, five points ahead of the surging Tampa Bay Lightning, so they have the luxury of time to manage their assets.  Bruins fans would like to see Kase before the end of the season, which will likely happen.  

Don Sweeney can be given an A-minus for this trade.  He was able to accomplish two areas of need: create long-term cap space for impending free-agents and add a non-rental to his top-six forward group.  Kase’s performance and potential on the Bruins remain to be seen, so of course, the grade can change.

The second trade occurred on Deadline Day, which was a one-for-one sending Boston’s Danton Heinen to Anaheim for Nick Ritchie.  Ritchie is the younger brother of recent free-agent signing Brett Ritchie.  Nick was selected tenth overall in the 2014 draft out of the Ontario Hockey League.  He’s played five years on the Anaheim Ducks totaling 109 points in 287 games.  He is a large bottom-six forward at 6’2, 234 pounds, which brings toughness to the Bruins.

Many fans have voiced that the Bruins lack toughness, whether it be not standing up for one another or getting pushed around on the ice without a true enforcer.  Ritchie seems to fit that mold.  He doesn’t fight much, only two fighting majors in five years, but he does throw his body around and sticks up for his teammates.

Ritchie has 763 career hits and 79 already this year, which is on pace for 158 this year.  His brother Brett plays a similar game, but what separates Nick from Brett is the point total.  Nick has 19 points this year, which will rank eleventh on the Bruins (tied with Anders Bjork).  He also led the Ducks in plus/minus at plus three and carries a $1.5M cap hit for this and next season.  He will also be a restricted free-agent in 2021.

Though, Ritchie comes in with the most penalty minutes on the team.  He has amassed 78 penalty minutes this year, and none have been fighting majors.  The Bruins penalty kill is one of the best in the league, but he will have to eliminate the amount of time spent in the box when they face teams like the Washington Capitals.

Danton Heinen was sent to Anaheim in this deal, and it has been a bit of a mystery for most Bruins fans and NHL experts.  Heinen entered his rookie year, putting up 47 points, and his future was bright.  He hit a bit of a sophomore slump and seemed to focus more on his defense than his offense.  He was under-appreciated in Boston for the little things he did.

Heinen recently signed a 2-year, $5.6M deal this past off-season and will be a restricted free-agent again in 2021.  Sending Heinen saves the Bruins $1.3M in cap space, which will be helpful when Krug, Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, Matt Grzelcyk, and Jake DeBrusk need new deals this upcoming off-season.

This particular trade will need to be re-evaluated in the playoffs and beyond.  Ritchie will likely replace Heinen on the third line next to Charlie Coyle and Bjork.  He has a knack for standing in front of the net and battling for loose pucks.  The move seems to be more forward-looking than for immediate help, but his size could be beneficial when the Bruins face-off against bigger teams like the Lightning and Capitals.  For now, this trade receives a C.

Averaging the two grades together, the Bruins received a solid B for their deadline trades.  They addressed a few areas of need in acquiring a top-six forward and a bulky bottom-six winger.  Sweeney has a tendency to acquire players the Bruins aren’t linked to, and it works out.  Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle come to mind in this regard.  Though, Sweeney has signed and traded for a few bruisers who haven’t worked out: David Backes, Brett Ritchie, and Zac Rinaldo.  Hopefully, Ritchie can break his enforcer track record, and Kase can perform up to his potential, which would raise Sweeney’s 2020 deadline day grade.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

The Arms Race In The East, And How It Affects The Bruins

( Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer )


By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

 

With just days to go until the Trade Deadline, the dominos have already begun to fall. Teams have been gearing up for the great battle that is the Stanley Cups Playoffs. In the West, we’ve seen a few moves to bolster some already strong roster. The Canucks went out and acquired Tyler Toffoli, the Jets nabbed Dylan Demelo from Ottawa and Vegas added Alec Martinez. But the biggest story as of now has been the massive arms race that’s been shaping up the in the Bruins’ Conference.

On February 5th, the arms race began and has already paid dividends for the teams involved. The Toronto Maple Leafs kicked it all off when they fixed two of their biggest issue, toughness and backup goaltending. They received that aid in the form of Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell from LA. In doing so, they gave up young forward Trevor Moore and a pair of 3rd rounders (one of which has the chance to bump up to a 2nd if conditions are met). The two have fit right in, Jack Campbell is 3-0-1 between the pipes and Clifford has added nice grit in their bottom-six.

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 23: Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker (16) screens Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) on the power play during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Minnesota Wild on November 23, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

( Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

A few days later, we saw the always active Jim Rutherford and the Pittsburg Penguins find a replacement for the injured Jake Guentzel when they acquired Jason Zucker from the Wild. Minnesota received a nice haul for the forward with a 2020 1st round pick, Calen Addison (a top prospect in Pittsburgh’s system) and the struggling Alex Galchenyuk. Zucker has been awesome since sporting the Penguins’ colors and has three goals and an assist in four games.

After losing Adam Pelech to injury, the New York Islanders shored up their defense and gave veteran Andy Greene a new home, sending a 2nd rounder and Dave Quenneville to the New Jersey Devils. Greene has helped off the bat, contributing an assist in his first game. The hottest team in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning, made a big splash with the aforementioned Devils when they acquired Blake Coleman for the big package of Nolan Foote and a 1st round pick. And just recently, the Capitals added the physical Brendon Dillon from the Sharks for a 2nd and 3rd rounder.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins

( Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

So with three of the four top teams in the East (as well as two contenders) all making moves, it’s crucial the Bruins don’t fall behind. The acquisitions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson last season proved that when moves are made right, they have huge pay-offs. The Bruins yet again need to make a move to keep up, and that move needs to be for some help upfront.

With Tyler Toffoli recently dealt to the Canucks, that leaves one less option for Boston to add, so what’s left? For guys that can play in the top-six, we have Chris Kreider, Mike Hoffman, and my personal favorite, Kyle Palmieri. As we’ve seen from the trades already made, the prices for impact players are as high as they’ve ever been. You’d have to think that the three listed would go for a 1st rounder, plus a variety of players, prospects, and picks.

If the Bruins choose to balk at those prices, some second-tier options would be the likes of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Josh Anderson, Ondrej Kase a the duo of Predators in Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith. I’d assume the baseline for these players would be similar to the price the Bruins paid for Marcus Johansson at last year’s deadline, a 2nd rounder plus a sweetener. Some help in the bottom-six (which really shouldn’t be a priority) could have options like Vladislav Namestnikov, Derek Grant, Barclay Goodrow, Wayne Simmonds or maybe even Joe Thornton. Much of the East has already made improvements so Boston, you’re up.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

The Bruins’ Last Minute Trade Options

(Photo Credit: Yahoo! News / news.yahoo.com)

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The clock seems to be ticking for Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney as breaking news alerts continue to show another potential trade target being shipped off to another team. Even though big names like Blake Coleman, Tyler Toffoli, and Brendan Dillon are now off the market, there are still more options available on the trade block for Sweeney to make a move before the deadline. The one name the Bruins nation is waiting on, Chris Kreider.

The Big Names Still On The Market

Kreider not only brings the talent and speed that makes him a top-six forward in any lineup, but he brings a large 6’3″, 226-pound frame that will surely help the Bruins in games against heavier teams like the Washington Capitals or St.Louis Blues. Even though Kreider seems like an excellent fit for the Bruins, he does carry a cap hit of $4M+, which may hurt the Bruins if they were to try and re-sign him in the off-season as he’s projected to make around $7M+. Kreider has been on a tear recently, potting 3 goals and 4 points in his past 5 games while maintaining a +2 rating. The original asking price for Kreider is a first-round pick, a possible conditional draft pick, and an NHL ready prospect. Because of recent trades, Kreider’s trade value has skyrocketed, making it more difficult for Sweeney to negotiate a deal that doesn’t involve giving up too many valuable assets.

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Another rumored trade piece still on the market for the Bruins is Kyle Palmieri. The 29-year-old, 5’11 195-pound natural right-winger is one of the most underrated players this season. Even on a struggling Devils’ team, Palmieri has produced 22 goals, and 41 points with a +2 rating in just 55 games played this season. Palmieri also has 10 power-play goals this season, only one away from his previous high of 11. He is also maintaining an impressive shot percentage of 16.5% this season, so far surpassing his previous high of 13.5% in the 2016-2017 season.

With Palmieri currently averaging a career-high 0.75 points a game this season, the Bruins could use his scoring depth to strengthen the Krejci or Coyle line. Palmieri would be more than a rental, as he has one year left on his $4.65M contract. His current contract may not seem too threatening to the Bruins cap space at first glance, but with less than $20M in cap space available after this season, it will still be difficult for the Bruins to re-sign players like Debrusk and Krug, with or without Palmieri’s cap hit. Since New Jersey traded forward Blake Coleman, the Devils now may not have a reason to part ways with their top producer anymore.

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Other Potential Targets That Could Help The Bruins

There are other potential trade targets the Bruins could engage in that may not require surrendering too many valuable assets.

For scoring depth, the Bruins have had their eyes on 5’11, 186-pound right-winger Ondrej Kase since January, and for the right price, Kase could be the best option if the Bruins were to pick up another forward. While Kase’s numbers may not look pretty on-paper, he has a fantastic set of wheels that could match DeBrusk’s speed and also gives the Bruins another option on the penalty-kill and possibly the power-play as well. Kase has yet to play an entire 82-game season though, the most games he’s suited up for in a single season was during the 2017-2018 season with 66 games played. During the 2017-2018 season, Kase’s sophomore season in the NHL, he eclipsed 20 goals and 38 points with an impressive +18 rating, proving he’s a defensively responsible forward as well. So far this season, Kase’s point production stands with 7 goals and 23 points with a -7 rating in 49 games played with the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks.

Other than scoring depth, the Bruins may also look into players that will add size and grit, especially for the playoffs with Kevan Miller most likely out for the remainder of the season. Forward Josh Anderson is currently on the trade block, and according to Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports, the Bruins have been keeping a close eye on Anderson.

Josh Anderson, the 6’3, 222-pound winger was an absolute force last season producing 27 goals, 47 points, +25 rating, and an astounding 214 hits. Unfortunately, he has only played in 26 games so far this season due to a shoulder injury. Although his production severely regressed so far this season (1 goal and 4 points), it was proven last season and during the playoffs that he is one of the hardest players in the league to play against. Not only will Anderson bring the size and physicality the Bruins need, but he brings promising offensive talent that could fill the hole on the right-wing beside David Krejci.

Go-All-In Or Trust The System?

It’s no secret what the Bruins are looking for to improve their team before the deadline, but will it be worth giving up possible valuable assets for a rental? The Bruins proved last year that they have enough roster depth overall to survive the injury bug that left players like Pastrnak, McAvoy, Bergeron, etc., out for considerable time and continued to win games with the “next man up” mentality.

Although Boston’s core players are not getting any younger, there is still a lot of risk in going all-in for one player, especially after the 2018 Rick Nash trade that ended up going sideways due to Nash’s concussion problems. The Bruins have the competitive spirit and hockey talent from both their NHL and AHL rosters, to climb back up to the Stanley Cup Finals if they can rally around each other and continue to trust the system. The Bruins may not have the luxury of avoiding Tampa and Washington in the playoffs again, but they certainly have the talent to beat any team in the NHL.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Should Go All-In At The Trade Deadline

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

 

The Boston Bruins fancy themselves contenders for a National Hockey League title which would see them the first group to have their names etched into the Stanley Cup for the decade. Most of the hockey world would agree with their position seeing that as of their February 16th, 2020 win against the New York Rangers, they sit atop of their division and the League’s standings with 84 points on the back of a 36-11-12 record. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning have rebounded after a brutal start and sit only 3 points behind and the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be finding their groove. The path to the Eastern Conference Finals most likely features one of the star-studded teams in blue and white so the Bruins may as well swing for the fences before the Trade Deadline on February 24, 2020.

The Bruins lay claim to the Leagues 5th worst Expected Goals For (xGF) in the league. While this is partially offset by a stellar 3rd place position in Expected Goals Against (xGA) the fact of the matter is that both of their division rivals sport more potent offenses, especially the deep forward corps of the Lightning. More notably, the Lighting feature a similar defensive profile and it’s reflected in their numbers. This means the B’s will be in it for a forward, as so many are predicting. Why stop there though? The Bruins should buck expectation and bolster their top-nine by being aggressive and grabbing two… at least.

Why Not Have it All?

In upgrading their forward group, the consensus is that the B’s are gunning for Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. If they miss out on the deadline prize, the pundits proclaim, then they will settle for secondary rental options like, Kyle Palmieri on the New Jersey Devils, Ondrej Kase in Anaheim, or Ilya Kovalchuck who they could have had for the cost of a roster spot and .0002% of Charlie Jacobs net worth (read: essentially free). Candidates are becoming fewer and farther between as Tyler Toffoli, Blake Coleman and Jason Zucker have all found new homes in the past week. The trade price of Kreider has been previously been reported as a first-round round pick and a top prospect and may have increased since, per Pierre Lebrun.

That’s a nice chunk of change, no doubt in a draft year that scouts are proclaiming will yield a deep crop of young talent, per the contributors at The Hockey News. The market on the other forwards has likely been set by the Toffoli deal that saw the Kings bring in Tim Schaller on an expiring contract, a good prospect’s signing rights in Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-rounder contingent on the Vancouver Canucks signing the 28-year-old right-wing. If those prices hold and the teams are still looking to sell, the B’s may possess the currency to deal for Kreider and one of the “second-tier” options, specifically Kyle Palmieri.

What Would the Prices Translate To?

Consider a total trade package consisting of the Bruins’ 2020 first-round pick, a roster player such as Danton Heinen and prospects such as Urho Vaakenainen or Trent Frederic for the Blueshirt’s Chris Kreider. Is that a palatable rental arrangement if you’re Don Sweeny? Alternatively, you have a package similar to a 2020 second-round pick and Jakob Zboril, Jakub Louko or possibly even Zach Senyshyn for one of the second-tier options. Which would you pick? Again, the answer is both. Let’s delve into the reasons why.

The Cap Situation is Getting Murkier

On the Bruins’ current roster, eight players will need new deals or replacements.  This figure does not include Kevan Miller’s expiring contract, as he seems destined to spend the entirety of this season on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list, taking him to free agency.  This situation leaves approximately $18M to distribute over 8 players, two spots of which represent the player with the second-highest Time on Ice on the Penalty Kill and a back-up goaltending position that has become of increasingly more important to the B’s, if not to all teams across the league. Obvious new deals include the resigning of Torey Krug and Jake Debrusk, which will most likely eat $11 – $12 million of that for at least the next few years.  With only six million in cap space, the Bruins will have to, most likely, replace Zdeno Chara, Joakim Nordstrom, Jaroslav Halak, potentially Matt Grzelyck and almost certainly one of Karson Kuhlman, Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen. 

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None of this considers a David Backes buyout or retained salary trade, which is to say one way or another, the Bruins will be carrying dead cap space immediately after the Matt Belesky and Dennis Seidenberg money was to come off the books. With so many question marks in the future, why not take stock of what’s important to the organization (also known as Jack Studnicka, Jeremy Swayman and potentially John Beecher), identify your roster’s weaknesses today and deal from a position of strength to address them for a long run? The deals on the highest-profile trade targets are expiring after the season allowing for cap flexibility to either resign home-grown players, re-sign the acquired players or dip into the free-agent market.

The Core is Getting Older (For Real This Time)

The remnants of the 2011 Cup-winning team are all into their 30’s. Brad Marchand, the youngest of the bunch, is 31 and will be 36 when his deal expires. Chara will most likely not be resigned, whether he wants to hang ‘em up or not, and will become an Unrestricted Free Agent at the ripe age of 43. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask round out the veteran leaders. All of these players still fill irreplaceable roles on the squad, no matter how much flak Krejci and Rask take from the local supporters. If management wants to give their team the best chance to win, it’s today because tomorrow doesn’t look great according to statistics.

Below, one can inspect the average values of players’ Expected Goals For +/-, which is an aggregate number of Expected Goals-For and -Against – a stat based on comparing shots generated or yielded in specific locations with league-wide shooting percentages from those locations at even strength –  for the seasons including and between 2014 – 2015 and 2019 – 2020. Included were only those players who played in 25 or more games in each of those seasons and the data was split between forwards and defense. The trend is quite clear. (All Stats aggregated from Hockey Reference and manipulated by the author as described above).

Along with the bulk of the line, one can clearly identify the downward trend for both groups of skaters. Anomalies occur on the two extremes of age where we see individual performances from the likes of Connor McDavid and Jaromir Jagr, indicating well-above-average skill, at ages with few samples dominate the averages. That the B’s core skaters are still on the good side of this curve is a testament to their quality. Even the oft-maligned Krejci has proven to be the team’s best option on the 2nd line in the 1b role. As seen below, however, their implied effectiveness is slowing down.

Everyone understands the physical beating that Chara, Krejci, and Bergeron have taken in support of the organization’s success. Brad Marchand will only follow that script as he accumulates more years, games and negative attention from opposing defenses. Expected goals for is not an end-all, be-all number, there are other reasons Jagr is no longer in the League, but it is a solid indicator of a player’s contribution to the team. This regressive trend punctuates the point that if the team is going to win with these players, this year might as well be their year.

Bruins Thin on the Wings

Beyond players named David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand who comprise 66% of the highly touted top line, the team’s biggest weakness it on the wing. This weakness is of the physical variety and in terms of their underlying performance. Much has been made about the Bruins’ apparent lack of size against opponents like the Washington Capitals, the Tampa Bay Lightning and last year’s Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. The places where that differential is most important though is exactly where you need your wingers to spend most of their time: the corners of the offensive zone and around the opposing netminder’s crease. Heinen isn’t terrible at controlling the puck in those tight spaces and Bjork’s board play has improved by leaps and bounds, but in reality, physical size is still a variable that needs to be considered in a high octane contact sport. Here we see how the Bruins’ wingers compare to the teams of the Eastern Conference that are either in or in striking distance from a playoff position by team average (excluding goaltenders) and then the average of their defensive players.

No question, the Bruins wingers are at a size disadvantage, particularly when considering the opposing teams’ defensive players. Boston’s presented figure is actually lifted by the inclusion of Sean Kuraly who ordinarily plays center but his found himself on the wing for parts of this season. It isn’t enough to have a willingness to go to the net or engage in battles; one must possess that tenacity but also the physical traits that will prevent the player from being shucked off of the puck or out of inside position. The big prize of the deadline, Kreider will add physical size and not sacrifice much if not anything in regards to foot speed. Palmieri might not swing the numbers on size but he provides excellent offensive prowess and aside from the top line wingers, the Bruins lack impact forwards that don’t man the middle of the ice.

Boston’s wingers, broadly sport poor possession metrics, indicated by their Fenwick-For Relative, which is a measure of how a player impacts unblocked shots. Outside of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, only three wingers that have played at least 25 games (outside of Karson Kuhlman who was on the shelf for most of the first half of the season) are influencing the flow of play in a positive manner and all of those forwards have a metric below one suggesting they do not have much of an impact. The average for that group in the 2019 – 2020 season is -1.9 against the average for all forwards on those same playoff teams of .3. Against wingers on that group of teams over the same time period, the average Fenwick-For Relative is .1. Less to be sure, but by and large, all of the forwards on teams in the East expected to make noise are having a positive impact on possession or at least, not a negative one.

Here again, the addition of both Kreider and Palmieri immediately addresses the need for wingers that help control play. They sport sterling possession metrics across the board and would lift the team’s ability to control play on both wings. If management is going to subject poor David Krejci to a revolving door of line-mates, they might as well keep that portal twirling and stick these two above average, in-their-prime players in there and hope for some magic. Don’t care for “fancy stats?” Well, Kreider would immediately rank 4th in points on the team while Palmieri would be 5th. They would bring a collective 45 goals on the season with little to suggest their production will slow down on a superior team headed to the playoffs.

Little Evidence that the D-Corps Needs an Upgrade

The Bruin’s defense has been one of the most under-sung successes of the year. In some ways, like goals-against average, defensive metrics can be a team stat incorporating efforts from the forwards and goalies in addition to the blue-liners. Regardless, the Bruins sport one of the best-expected goals-against metrics in the League and the 3rd best actual vs expected goals against differential, behind Colorado and Tampa Bay. Torey Krug is still one of the premier power-play quarterbacks, Charlie McAvoy has started to find twine, Brandon Carlo is reminding all who really follow the team that he isn’t some 3rd rate talent behind the B’s 14th overall pick in 2016 and the rest of the cast is providing great support both on five on five and on special teams. Furthermore, options on the trade market are dwindling as Marco Scandella and Brenden Dillion have both moved from selling teams to contenders.

In an ideal world, the Bruins would acquire a depth option to add to the top-6 defenders that would address some size concerns and perhaps take some pressure off of Chara and Carlo on the PK. This is not an ideal world however and there are other teams seeking to do the same. In such a case the Bruins management ought to focus on the primary roster weaknesses addressed above

Five on Five Scoring wins Championships

Gone are the days when B’s fans could tout that their team was “built for the playoffs.” This current roster relies far too heavily on the power-play to get into the win column and love it or hate it, the way that referees interpret the rules in the playoffs changes. Fewer penalties are called, period. One only needs to look at the Bruins’ game seven defeat in 2019 against the St. Louis Blues. The only penalty called was a mandatory puck-over-glass delay of game against Colton Parayko. Although there was plenty of physicality, clutching and grabbing the rest of the game, only the Blues managed to score the meaningful even-strength goals.

In order to accomplish that, you need a top-six set of forwards that will force opposing teams to make choices instead of shutting down one troika for the duration of even-strength play in the playoffs. Providing Krejci not one, but two, real offensive threats that will get to the danger areas and use speed and tenacity to provide him time and space is imperative to forcing hard decisions on even strength coverage. The positive impact on Krejci’s line alone would sure up the third line that has been relatively weak when compared to seasons between 2010 and 2013 where versatile options like Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, among others, combined to create fantastic checking lines with the ability to chip in on the score sheet. One of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak or Patrice Bergeron may win the Conn Smythe, but one player (or even all three) will not win the Stanley Cup.

If the Bruins are to return to the Cup Final for a second consecutive year, they must realize that they will face tougher competition than the year prior and ensure that they add reinforcements that will truly address their roster weaknesses. With salary cap uncertainty, flexibility will remain of the utmost importance so a rental option is likely to be considered. The core of the group is certainly deep into their back nine in terms of both time under contract and ineffectiveness. Their defense, while flawed in some ways, is the envy of all but perhaps 5 teams in the entire league and they are bolstered by proven, above-average goaltending. With all of these things considered, the B’s should go all-in on Chris Kreider and Kyle Palmieri (or someone who is available and similar) to address their weaknesses with conviction.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

NHL Trade Deadline: Who Boston Should Be Looking At Moving Forward

( Photo Credit: Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images )

By: Jack Cinquegrana  |  Follow me on Twitter: @bruinschewy

 

The Boston Bruins have had a great sense of team defense and acquiring two-way forwards in order to retain that reputation, a good defense is the best offense they always say. But, for the past few seasons, since the trading of Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton after the cup win, the Bruins have had a hard time scoring goals. Boston’s top line does most of the scoring currently tallying 45% of all of the team’s goals, compared to the second line scoring at 19% of the team’s total goals, not ideal.

With an addition of a bonafide offensive scorer that can be had for a good team-friendly contract, preferably a right-handed winger, the offense can be much more balanced offensive attack. When we rely too heavily upon 63-37-88 the frustration starts to show and that makes it even more difficult to stay composed and score goals.

These players that the Bruins should be targeting are not necessarily perfectly attainable but would be a great fit on the team filling the wide-open second-line winger spot beside David Krejci. The Bruins currently sit with 3.1 million in cap space to make a signing or have money going out for money coming in. Trade bait would include one of Jokiam Nordstrom/Danton Heinen and a prospect (Zach Senyshyn, Cameron Hughes, or Peter Cehlárik) and depending on the player, a pick as well.

Tomas Tatar

( Photo Credit: Montreal Canadiens / NHL.com )

A versatile C/W that has produced consistently throughout his entire career. He has a left-shot but can play a complementary game with DK46 and has proven himself a steady defensive forward. He is currently having the best season of his career on the stat sheet and commands a 5.3 million dollar cap hit for this year and next. That is a steep price but Sweeney can definitely move some money around. The only issue may be Tatar’s No-Trade Clause that was issued on February 2 includes 15 teams. Another potential issue could be that he plays for Montreal and there are not many trades between Boston and Montreal.

Kevin LeBanc

( Photo Credit: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group )

The 24-year-old winger who has great playmaking and scoring ability has burning speed and some playoff experience. San Jose seems like they are blowing it up to reload for next season, they will want picks or prospects. I think he is an easy choice being that he is on a one-year, one million contract, he can potentially resign and will not command a high cap hit. He is a right-shot and can play the off-wing, I think he is a weapon that we need to pounce on.

 

Kyle Palmieri

( Photo Credit: NJ.com )

Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils has been a solid top-six winger throughout his entire career. Like Tatar, he is a seasoned veteran that can score, be a complementary player to the center and is currently on pace for his career-best goal-scoring season. Palmieri is a right-shot and his contract holds an annual average value of 4.65 million. Slightly a better deal than Tatar would be and having another right-handed forward would not hurt on Krejci’s wing.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Fail To Land Affordable Winger

( Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea | USA TODAY Sports | http://www.usatoday.com/sports )

By: Will Montanez | Follow me on Twitter @Willfro3

Tyler Toffoli has been traded by the Los Angeles Kings to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for former Bruin Tim Schaller, the signing rights of prospect Tyler Madden a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2020 fourth-round pick dependent on if Toffoli resigns with Vancouver. The trade was announced by the Canucks’ official Twitter account at 8:50pm EST on February 18, 2020, six days ahead of the NHL trade deadline. The trade is the second by the Kings in advance of what will most likely be a fire-sale in the city of Angels and follows a deal that sent Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford to the Toronto Maple Leafs to address concerns around goal-tending and team toughness of the Canadian hockey club.

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Toffoli has registered 34 points, including 18 goals, in 58 games with the floundering LA team which seems content to book its ticket for best odds in the draft lottery later this year on its way to the golf course. Tim Schaller, the roster player going to the Kings, has posted 5-1-6 totals in 51 games with a -13 rating and clearly represents a bit of salary cap maneuvering and roster management by the Canucks’ top brass. He was undrafted but signed with the Buffalo Sabres organization in 2013. Following a year in the AHL and parts of two seasons in the NHL, he signed with the Bruins in the summer of 2016 and played in 141 regular-season games for the Black and Gold notching totals of 19-17-32 with a cumulative -11 and also appeared in all 17 playoff games over those two seasons. His current contract, which he signed with the Canucks in 2018, expires after the 2020 season and he will most likely walk to unrestricted free agency.

Tyler Madden is an unsigned, NCAA centerman who was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks 68th overall in the third round of the 2018 NHL entry draft. He currently plays for North Eastern University and sits atop of the team’s with leader-board in goals and points with 19 and 37 respectively. Although undersized at 5’11” and 155 pounds, the 20-year-old forward is considered a solid NHL prospect and helped the Huskies to a third consecutive Beanpot title on February 12, 2020. The rest of the package includes futures in a draft that is reported to be one of the deepest, if not sublimely talented, prospect pools in some time. This is a price, one would imagine, the B’s could have paid.

The Bruins Missed Out

Tyler Toffoli has the same point total as Jake Debrusk on an inferior team while possessing better underlying statistics. Toffoli would have immediately upgraded the Bruins in terms of size on the wing, goal-scoring ability, ability to possess the puck and drive play as represented by Fenwick-For Relative (a measure of a player’s impact on unblocked shot shares while on the ice) and would help bring balance to the top-six forward unit that most nights does not represent a potent even-strength threat. (All stats obtained from Hockey Reference.)

This upgrade would have preserved future cap flexibility in a year where the Bruins have no fewer than six potential roster holes to fill in the coming season and provided the reigning Eastern Conference champs with the forward depth they will need to compete against teams in the East like Tampa Bay and Washington that boast excellent defense each complimented by a robust group of heavy bodies that enable their coaches to roll four lines in all situations.  All of this at a relatively small cost.

The price paid by Vancouver can be translated as something similar to Danton Heinen, any prospect outside of Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen and the Bruin’s second pick in the 2020 draft.  Perhaps the B’s would have sweetened the pot in a similar way with an additional pick or dealt from their deep pool of defensemen in lieu of a prospect, Heinen or both. If one cannot see a trade like that as a fair deal, then that person is not ready to make any realistic trades to bolster the Boys’ chances in the playoffs this season. There are few things more readily apparent on this current roster than the lack of scoring beyond the top line and management failing to provide David Krejci a capable third member on his line. Specifically, a right-winger on his strong side with a shoot-first mentality.

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There are still options for the Bruins to seek as upgrades for their top-six. Names like New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider and Kyle Palmieri of the New Jersey Devils are being tossed about and can represent good additions to the team. While the Bruins’ recent willingness to deal with both of these clubs is noteworthy, it seems that they will have to pay a much steeper price than Vancouver did to bag the biggest name on the rental list or a former All-Star who is signed to another year with a reasonable cap-hit, especially after considering the escalating price for forwards like Jason Zuker and Blake Coleman. Sweeney and Co. may have missed out on the best value the market had to offer.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast Episode 166

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Hosts Heather Ingerson and Mark Allred got back in the studio to talk Boston Bruins and a few other hockey-related topics. We started recording this episode 166 before the afternoon tilt against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Bruins continue to roll post the All-Star/Bye-Week break and have a tough test ahead of them with a four-game road trip which started in New York and heading out west to play Canadian teams such as the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and the Vancouver Canucks.

Please give a listen to our Bruins banter below in episode 166 as Heather and myself talk about last week’s games and the upcoming week for our beloved National Hockey League Boston Bruins. Below is a timeframe of when the discussion changes to a new hockey related topic.

 

Intro – 00:00
Last Weeks Games – 6:33
Upcoming Weeks Schedule – 22:30
Talking About the Jay Bouwmeester Collapse & Update – 38:30
Chara Fined By Player Safety 5K – 46:30
Charlie McAvoy Emergence After Scoring First Goal – 1:05:00
Bergeron Notches 3 Straight 25+ Goal Seasons – 1:13:55
Cassidy Gets 200th Career NHL Coaching Victory – 1:20:45
Jeremy Lauzon Signs Two-Year Contract Extension – 1:27:30
Time Is Now To Pull The Trigger On A Toffoli Trade With LA – 1:37:00
General Discussion – 1:49:10
End Of Show – 2:07:40

Follow us on Twitter at:
Mark Allred @BlackAndGold277
Podcast Account @BlackNGoldPod

Have a question or a comment for the hosts? Please send us an email at blackngoldhockeyblog@gmail.com

Thanks for tuning in and all the support! We’ll be back next week for another show of Bruins Hockey related material. Take Care and GO Bruins!!

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The Latest Bruins Trade Buzz

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The NHL trade deadline is 20 days away, and the Bruins are the center of attention.  Pierre LeBrun, a senior NHL columnist for The Athletic, posted an article giving his perspective of plausible trades throughout the NHL.  He predicts Chris Kreider to the St. Louis Blues, Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames, and Ducks’ Ondrej Kase to the Boston Bruins.  

The hypothetical deal would send Kase to Boston in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick and prospect Oskar Steen.  Steen is a former sixth-round draft choice in 2016 out of Karlstad, Sweden.  Oskar is currently playing on Boston’s American Hockey affiliate team, the Providence Bruins.  Steen’s scouting report has centered around his feisty play combined with a lethal shot.  He was able to show off that shot during a Bruins pre-season game in September 2019.

Bruins Coordinator of Player Development, Jamie Langenbrunner, has given his take on Steen’s abilities. “He should be a very effective player for us in Providence to start, and we’ll see how quickly he can translate that to be on the radar for [Bruce Cassidy] and the guys [in Boston].” He has 16 points in 47 games as he transitions from the bigger Swedish ice surface to the NHL-sized rinks.  European hockey leagues play on Olympic sized rinks (200×100), where the AHL and NHL play on 200×85 sized rinks.  Once Steen adapts to the smaller arena, he could be an effective piece for an NHL franchise.

Another Athletic NHL writer, Scott Wheeler, ranks NHL teams’ prospects pools each year and where each player ranks within each system.  He ranks Steen fourth-best in the Bruins’ prospect pool behind Jack Studnicka, John Beecher, and Urho Vaakananien.  “Steen has underperformed. We rarely see players his age have the kind of impact he had for Farjestad last year. He was consistently their most dangerous forward shift-to-shift.”  He goes on to say Steen is on his way to be a complementary piece on an NHL roster.

If you’ve watched more than three Bruins games this year, it’s clear the Bruins have a plethora of complementary players.  The Bruins are still searching for their top-six forward.  It would be a welcoming surprise if Steen could surpass the complementary piece trajectory and become a top-six winger.  Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney has been doing his due diligence throughout the year.  There have been reports that the Bruins have a “back-pocket deal in place for Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli.  LeBrun has Toffoli heading to Calgary, so if LeBrun’s predictions hold true, the Bruins would need to look elsewhere.

The Anaheim Ducks have had an extremely trying season.  They fired their coach and bought out the second-best winger in Ducks history (Corey Perry) this past off-season.  NHL analysts predicted their youth would carry them into a playoff spot.  Unfortunately, the Ducks sit 27th in the league standings, second-to-last in the Western Conference.  Their team has been depleted with injuries and a lack of consistency.

They have a few bright spots, due to strategic drafting.  Rickard Rakell is in-line to be their number one forward and John Gibson has been a highly-regarded goalie throughout the league.  Kase was once seen as a key cog in the Ducks’ future plans, but with how their past few seasons have ended, their General Manager could be looking to shake things up.  The Bruins would prefer Rakell but would have to offer a better package.  Anaheim is more likely to part ways with Kase.

Ondrej Kase was the Ducks’ 205th overall draft choice in 2014.  He spent his early hockey career in the Czech Republic and two invitations to the World Junior U-20 Championships.  Both years, he played alongside Bruins leading goal-scorer David Pastrnak.  The 24-year old winger is a versatile player who is featured in all of the games’ situations.  He currently plays on right-wing on Anaheim’s second-line.  He is featured on their second powerplay unit and has logged 30 minutes penalty kill time-on-ice.  He’s even registered one short-handed goal for the Ducks.

Kase showcased his incredible speed during this play and slick hands.  He is a shifty 5’11 forward who could fit nicely in the Bruins system.  In his first year with the Ducks, Kase recorded 15 points in 53 games.  The following year, he ended with 38 points in 66 games, but the injury bug started to latch on.  He would miss a few games due to a concussion and illness.

In his third year with Anaheim, he was on pace for a 55 point-season when he tore his labrum in his shoulder and would miss the next six months.  Fast forward to the current season, he has stayed relatively healthy playing in 46 games amassing 21 points.  His 21 points would rank eighth on the Bruins, tying him with Danton Heinen.  If he continues on his current pace, he will end the season with 37 points.

The point total is low, but he is playing on a horrendous team, and a change of scenery has paid dividends for players.  Charlie Coyle had endured a few consecutively rough seasons in Minnesota before being traded to Boston.  He was an immediate impact in the Bruins deep playoff run and is on pace for the third-highest point total of his career (41).  Kase could benefit from the same situation.  Kase would also be under the Bruins cap control through next season.  He is half-way through his 3-year, $7.8M deal and will be a restricted free-agent in 2021.

Don Sweeney has been wary of sending high draft picks to teams for rentals.  Chris Kreider is atop the NHL’s most expensive trade asset at the deadline.  It is almost a foregone conclusion the New York Rangers will net a first-round draft selection and a prospect for the impending unrestricted free-agent.  Most teams will likely be scared off by the high ask.  Tyler Toffoli is a name to watch if you’re a Bruins faithful, but the Calgary flames have also expressed interest.  If the Bruins want to avoid a bidding war, Kase could be their best option.

If LeBrun’s asking price is a third-round pick and Steen, Sweeney could be enticed enough to take the chance.  Anaheim may counter with a second-round pick instead and in that case, which is still a fair deal to be made.  Kase is not a rental, and he could potentially stop the Bruins’ top-six winger merry-go-round.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 164 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support.  Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!  

Top 3 Bruins Trade Deadline Targets

boston-bruins-don-sweeney-draft-062516

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

The NHL trade deadline is quickly approaching and with it another push to the Stanley Cup Playoffs (seriously? it feels like the B’s were in the Finals a week ago). The Bruins along with every NHL team in the playoff race are laying out potential targets for the Monday, February 24th trade deadline. The Bruins under Don Sweeney have rarely made a humongous splash at the deadline in the past but here’s to hoping that changes this year.

The Bruins are often reluctant to give up top prospects and first and second-round picks for deadline trades. In 2018, the Bruins made arguably their biggest deadline move bringing in 33-year-old Rick Nash in exchange for a 2018 first-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, and prospect Ryan Lindgren who was a second-round pick of the Bruins. This was a pretty hefty return for a veteran forward at the tail end of his career and the Bruins went on to lose in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Last season, the Bruins traded for Weymouth, MA native Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson as deadline deals and they both had big impacts on the Bruins run to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, the Bruins still fell short.

In my opinion, the Bruins go for it now and give up the picks and prospects to get another crack at the Stanley Cup as the core of Bergeron, Chara, Marchand, Krejci, and Rask is aging and time could be running out for the Bruins to make another run. Here are my top 3 trade targets for the Bruins at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline:

1. Chris Kreider

Chris Kreider has been linked to the Bruins for a couple of years now but it seems as though there is much more traction on this rumor this year as opposed to in the past. It has been reported that the Bruins have had Kreider on their radar for the deadline virtually all season and I think he would make a great winger for David Krejci who is still desperately awaiting a locked up wing spot along with Jake DeBrusk.

Kreider would feel right at home as the Boxford, MA native would be yet another New England kid to suit up in the Black ‘N Gold. Kreider is having a solid season for the New York Rangers playing in 48 games and racking up 32 points through his 17 goals and 15 assists. However, It would be a little bit of a hefty asking price from the Rangers as they are in a full rebuild mode and would likely want a top tier prospect along with a first-round draft pick.

2. Kyle Palmieri

Another player who has been rumored to be on the Bruins radar is Devils forward Kyle Palmieri. The 28-year-old seasoned vet could help the Bruins on the right side of David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk as he is a right-shot. Palmieri has appeared in 46 games with New Jersey and has scored 17 goals and dished out 16 assists for 33 points. He is a rugged player who can put the puck in the net but also a tough player who is not afraid to scrap and could be a perfect fit in the Bruins lineup.

Palmieri has another year after this on his deal worth a $4.65 million cap hit which could be beneficial to the Bruins if he fits in the Bruins lineup. The Bruins got a similar situation with Charlie Coyle coming over to the Bruins last season with a year left on his deal so he was not a traditional “deadline rental” player. Obviously, for this deal to happen, the Bruins would need to move a roster player to create cap room for the addition of Palmieri.

3. Andreas Athanasiou

This one might come as a surprise to many as he isn’t a top tier NHL player right now but he is a highly thought of young forward across the NHL. The 25-year-old Greek-Canadian from Woodbridge, Ontario has incredible speed and great hands (maybe he can help the Bruins in the shootout down the stretch?). He currently has five goals and 14 assists for 19 points this season in 36 games but is currently battling an injury and sitting out a few games this weekend for Detroit. This would be a cheaper deal for the Bruins than Kreider and they would get a younger, faster, and extremely talented winger. Although there is some risk with his recent injury and the fact that he hasn’t completely broken out just yet.

Other Notable Trade Targets:

Ottawa Senators F Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Los Angeles Kings F Tyler Toffoli

San Jose Sharks D Brenden Dillon

 

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!