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.

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Bruins O’Ree Being Lobbied For Medal

(Photo Credits: The Great Black Heroes)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to those that “have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.” Only eight athletes have ever received that honor, and this year if the NHL has its way, former Bruins player Willie O’Ree will be bestowed the award. It’s been reported that several NHL execs flew into Washington to help garner support in getting O’Ree the consideration.

NHL lobbies for Willie O'Ree to get Congressional Gold Medal(Photo Credits: Getty Images)

Along with the NHL, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) has been lobbying for O’Ree to be considered for the Medal. Scott introduced the legislation to get the former NHLer the recognition. The Senator met with O’Ree recently on Capital Hill and spoke very highly of the “Jackie Robinson of Ice Hockey”:

You were the grandson of slaves from South Carolina…I would like to put the icing on the cake from my perspective that this country continues to evolve in the right direction.

That in a time and date when there’s so much incivility, so much division and polarization, the one thing you represent today is what you represented in 1958, is that in this country, all things are possible…Thank you for being a trailblazer in a sport that I would imagine, even today people are unaware of the significant role that you played in opening the door.”

The high honor comes on the heels  after O’Ree was inducted into the NHL Hall Of Fame for breaking the color barrier in 1958 when he suited up for the Boston Bruins. As chronicled earlier this year, O’Ree has been a prominent figure in the Ice Hockey Community  where he has worked hard to bring the sport to minority and undeserved children. In 1996, O’Ree became the NHL’s first-ever Diversity Ambassador and helped develop the Hockey is for Everyone youth organization.

O’Ree was playing with the Quebec Senior Hockey League with the Quebec Aces when he was called by the Bruins to replace an injured player. Little did he realize that he would be crossing the color-lines when he played the against the Montreal Canadiens on January 18th, 1958.  

“To me, I didn’t know I was breaking the color barrier until the next morning when I read it in the paper.”

(Photo Credits: Postmedia Network)

And to add more to this significant moment, O’Ree lost 95 percent of his vision in his right eye due being hit in eye by a puck and had the Boston Bruins known this, there might have been a chance he never would’ve gotten the call:

“I didn’t let that stop me. Back then, they didn’t have physicals like the ones given today. I could still see out of my left eye. I wanted to play and I did what I had to do to compensate for the injury…Being a left-handed shot and playing left wing to compensate, I had to turn my head all the way around to the right and look over my right shoulder to pick the puck up.”

O’Ree has received many awards in his time including being inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, the recipient of the Lester Patrick Award (given annually for hockey service in the Unites States)  and was honored in 2008 with the naming of the Willie O’Ree Place at the Fredericton Arena in New Brunswick.

Little did he know the impact he would have for future black players in the NHL and the path he laid down.  In a touching tribute,  former Flyers now Devils player Wayne Simmonds wrote of the impact O’Ree had on him as a child and credits him with achieving his dreams of playing in the NHL:

“…none of it ever would’ve happened without Mr O’Ree opening the door-not just for me, but for every black hockey player with a dream…For every single kid who was ever told to ‘stick to basketball’, Willie was like the first man on the moon.”

And despite enduring the racial insults, threats and fights, O’Ree kept going:

“I’m not going to leave the league because there’s somebody there that feels that he wants to agitate me and get me out of the game”

(Photo Credits: Stephen MacGillivray / The Canadian Press)

The young 83-year-old NHL legend has a good chance at winning one of the highest honors given to a civilian and O’Ree could be none the happier:

“It would rank right at the top, the highest award probably that I’ve ever get as far as my lifetime. I’m thrilled and if it happens, I’d be very honored to come back and receive this award.”

How Pastrnak Injury Should Change Sweeney, Bruins Deadline Plans

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(Photo Credit: wbur.org)

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter @yanlatz

On Tuesday, February 12, the Boston Bruins and Don Sweeney announced via a press conference at Warrior Ice Arena that David Pastrnak underwent successful surgery to repair an injured left thumb. Pastrnak injured his thumb after leaving a sponsorship dinner with teammates when he reportedly fell, and he will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

David Pastrnak has been one of the league’s best goal scorers this season. He was honored at the 2019 NHL All-Star Game in San Jose due in part to his 31 goals and 66 points which are tied for 7th and 9th in the league respectively. He also ranks second in the league in powerplay points with 29, just behind Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov who has 32 power play points.

It is no secret that David Pastrnak has been a huge part of the Bruins success this season. However, even with David Pastrnak in the lineup, the Bruins have had an up and down season so far. With this latest injury, Sweeney should swing for the fences.

There have been multiple reports linking the Bruins to superstar forwards like Artemi Panarin and Wayne Simmonds ahead of the February 25th NHL Trade Deadline in which I think the Bruins should revisit with the Pastrnak injury.

However, during Sweeney’s press conference, he stated that Pastrnak’s injury will not change his deadline approach. If this is the case, this is not good news for Bruins fans. Ahead of Tuesday’s matchup with the streaking Chicago Blackhawks who have won 7 straight games and sit just 4 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, Jake DeBrusk will be joining David Krejci and Peter Cehlarik on the left side in place of David Pastrnak.

Jake DeBrusk has been in a big slump in his sophomore season putting up just 14 goals and 5 assists for 19 points in 47 games played. This is down from his outstanding rookie campaign with 16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points along with a +13 rating last season. The Pastrnak injury is a chance for DeBrusk to step up and get back into his scoring ways, but the Bruins still need a trade now more than ever.

With David Pastrnak in the lineup and many injuries this season, the Bruins have done a great job hanging onto a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. However, even with David Pastrnak, we have seen this team give up leads in games as well as just flat out not score. If I were in Sweeney’s shoes, I would make a trade for a big name forward like the aforementioned Artemi Panarin or Wayne Simmonds. But, the asking prices are reportedly very high for Panarin who has already stated that he wants to test the market come July 1st. If the Bruins want to make any kind of splash in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, they need to add another piece (or 2) at the deadline to improve the forward group and add more depth scoring.

As reported by Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, an ask for Columbus could be the Bruins 2019 First Round Pick, Trent Frederic, and either Donato or Vaakanainen.

Again, this is just a rental at this time because Panarin said that he wanted to test the market this summer. However, who knows? What if he loves Boston and the Bruins make a deep run with him and decides to sign here? Giving up Donato and Frederic, two players who haven’t shown a ton of promise this season, as well as a first-round pick for a superstar forward, would be a great move to improve the top two lines for the Bruins. This is a gamble move for Don Sweeney but I think it would be a good risk to take that could help this team compete with Eastern Conference supremacists Tampa Bay Lightning.

Wayne Simmonds would also be a good gamble in my opinion. He has shown to be a good performer in the past although he only has 24 points this season. He has had a strong career with the LA Kings and Philadelphia Flyers and has built a reputation as a tough player who can put the puck in the net. Most importantly, it would be a cheaper price for Don Sweeney to play than for Artemi Panarin.

With the aging (yet still productive) veteran core in Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, and Brad Marchand, the window is closing for the Bruins to win another Stanley Cup. Therefore, Sweeney should take a swing for a big name forward at this year’s trade deadline, especially with the latest David Pastrnak injury.

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Bruins Cannot Afford To Make A Panic Move At The Deadline

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( Photo Credit: Aram Boghosian / Boston Globe )

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

We’re now just about two long weeks away from the NHL Trade Deadline, and after a bit of a turbulent week on the ice for the Bruins, the airwaves of Twitter and radio have been calling for some action on the trade front.

Hypothetical packages for the be-all-end-all trade target, Artemi Panarin, and “#WeWantWayne [Simmonds]” have been strewn all about the internet. Heck, names like Ryan Dzingel have been tossed out there as well. We’re even back to talking about Jeff Carter for some reason (take a look at that contract, woof).

The issue with all three players mentioned above is that they are all unrestricted free agents come July 1 along with the believed asking prices, that’s not even mentioning Kevin Hayes, Mark Stone, or Matt Duchene.

Look, don’t get me wrong, if the Bruins could snag a top-six winger or third line center who would be here for more than a few months without giving up a ridiculous package, then go make that deal. Even Bruce Cassidy daydreams about acquiring a scorer:

However, let’s not go around here ready to mortgage the farm to maybe be marginally good enough to take on Tampa Bay in a playoff series.

On the other hand, I understand that Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and especially Zdeno Chara are not getting any younger, and you don’t get continuous kicks at the can–age could catch up to someone, and there’s the possibility of retirement (Chara).

Looking at the Bruins as a whole, one minute, this team plays as good as any other team in hockey. The next? It looks a lot like the same mediocre, bang-your-head-off -the-wall type of play that caused them to miss the playoffs two-straight seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The footage from Saturday’s win over the lowly Los Angeles Kings is exactly what comes to mind after giving that description of the team’s performance of late:

If you’re Don Sweeney and the rest of the Bruins’ brass in the front office, you’re in a sticky situation. Like I said, you have one side of the argument that looks at the Bruins’ situation with the mindset that Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand, and Chara are all on the wrong side of the age bracket, and that they deserve one more shot at Lord Stanley.

On the other hand, the Bruins have plenty of young talent–Ryan Donato, Trent Frederic, Danton Heinen, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, to name a few–that makes the future seem bright, disappointing seasons aside.

For the Bruins in both the short-term and long-term, Don Sweeney cannot afford to make a deal in haste. A “panic” move that could mortgage the future for a rental or player who does not put the team over the top would be devastating to the team’s long-term plans and short-term success.

Not to mention the fact that selling low on struggling young talent (Heinen, JFK, and Donato) is as risky as it gets. While it may not be clicking right now for those three, it does not automatically mean that they’re “done” or “never going to make it.” We’ve watched it happen before where a seemingly lost young player gets dealt then pans out (see Seguin, Tyler–not to say either of those guys is the next Seguin).

Also, it was well-documented that Don Sweeney was not thrilled at all about being without his first round pick at least year’s draft, and he would be wise to keep it under lock and key.

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Giving up a plethora of young players or picks for a rental only to watch the Bruins fail to make it deep in the playoffs while the prospects that were traded away pan out would be a horrific look for management. A move like that would leave the Bruins with an outlook on the future that is much less favorable than it is now.

If the right deal presents itself, then I trust Don Sweeney to make that move. I say “right deal” as in a move that can give the Bruins a solid chance at actually contending this year when the playoffs roll around without giving up an outrageous amount to acquire said player.

Careful thought and patience from Sweeney (yes, more of it) is going to have to be the key when considering potential trades come February 25th.

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Weighing The Bruins’ Options As The Trade Deadline Nears

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(Image: Grant Halverson / Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Here we sit on January 19th with the NHL Trade Deadline over a month away on February 25th. While it may seem a long ways off, the deadline creeps closer with each passing day, and there has been plenty of buzz-generating as the trade winds stir with a number of moves and rumors this week.

So, with all of that in mind, here is a look at all the options on the table for the Boston Bruins as 3:00pm on February 25th looms:

Make a big splash for a bigger name:

This is what many fans and talking heads have been calling for all season long. It’s no secret that the Bruins have had a gaping hole at right wing on the second line, and it seems like they have been looking for a guy to play next to David Krejci (and now Jake DeBrusk) for about three years or so now. The Bruins have been mentioned in the same breath as guys like Michael Ferland, Jeff CarterCharlie Coyle, Wayne Simmonds, and Brayden Schenn who play productive, heavy, and sound two-way games that have historically complimented David Krejci’s style.

Obviously, acquiring one of these players can solve this team’s problems at second line right wing (all four of them), or third line center (in the case of Coyle or Carter, potentially). Plugging these holes could be just what this team needs in order to solidify itself as a serious contender.

While it would be very exciting to see the Bruins go out and make a big splash to aid their scoring woes outside of their top five forwards (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Krejci, DeBrusk), there are so many questions that come up.

First, are the Bruins really contenders this year? They’ve shown on a few occasions this year that they may be more than just a winger away from being a real threat. There have also been issues at third line center as well. If the Bruins are not contenders this year, after all, they may seem best-suited to ride out the season and make their moves over the summer.

Another question is, what would the price be for a bigger name? Trade Deadline season always drives prices up no matter what, especially for rental players, like Wayne Simmonds. So, the Bruins would have to be careful if they make a move, especially for a rental, given what they gave up for Rick Nash last season.

Make smaller depth moves:

General manager Don Sweeney has made his fair share of depth acquisitions in recent years whether it was Lee Stempniak, Tommy Wingels, Nick Holden, Drew Stafford, or John-Michael Liles.

These types of moves can be double-edged swords. On the one hand, you can give up basically nothing for someone that ends up providing solid production, like Stafford or Wingels, who the Bruins gave up conditional late-round picks for.

However, on the other hand, you can overpay for a depth rental who does not play very well or contribute much at all, like Nick Holden, who was disappointing, overall.

So, this could be an option for the Bruins, if they feel that internal solutions, like Peter Cehlarik, are the fix for the second line. If that were the case, then the Bruins could look for guys to bolster their forward and defense depth since the Stanley Cup Playoffs have proven time and time again that there is no such thing as too many defensemen.

Stand pat, ride out the season, and take their chances in the offseason:

At times, it seems as if the Bruins are more than just one or two pieces away from being serious contenders. The young kids like Danton Heinen, Ryan Donato, and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson haven’t been able to show that they are what we’d hoped they be for long stretches of time. There’s also the constant worry of the revolving door on Krejci’s right, which may be far too expensive to fix by February 25th.

So, if the Bruins like what they’ve seen from Peter Cehlarik on the second line, feel confident in the kids on the current third line, and feel they have the adequate organizational depth to account for injuries.

With the most recent hot streak this team has been on, and a floundering Toronto Maple Leafs team, the Bruins may like the way things are shaping up for them and choose to wait it out. If that’s what Sweeney decides, the Bruins will take their chances when the playoffs come before making their big moves to put them over the top over the summer, either via trade or free agency.

Looking Ahead:

Don Sweeney and the rest of the Bruins’ brass certainly have a lot of options they can look at that go down several different routes, whether they be trades or betting on the current team. Regardless of which course of action is taken, Sweeney has to be sure of his long term plans for this team and must be very wary of overpaying in a trade, especially for a rental.

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