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.

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