In case you haven’t noticed by now, the Bruins have something really good going on. To the point that they could actually be big buyers at the NHL trade deadline.
But if they’re going to make the proverbial splash, don’t expect them to make significant changes to the NHL roster.
Bruins president Cam Neely intimated as much when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday ahead of the team’s 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames at TD Garden. Led by a mix of high-end veterans and emerging young talent, Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins have found a near-perfect mix that has vaulted them near the top of the NHL standings.
Even Neely admitted that the Bruins are “a little bit ahead of where we expected to be” in their on-the-fly rebuild. And despite the quick emergence of young talents like Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, and Danton Heinen, they still have a wealth of impressive prospects in the pipeline.
Neely sounds ready to deal players from the latter group. And the Bruins sound reluctant to change anything on the main roster, due to how well it’s working.
“It’s a great group of guys, it really is,” said Neely. “They’re all pulling on the same rope. The chemistry seems to be really strong right now. It’s another thing we talk about is the chemistry of this group. Historically, you’ve seen things happen at the deadline where, maybe teams after the fact, say ‘We made too many moves and it disrupted the chemistry’. So that’s something we’re cautious about.”
The Bruins are reportedly in the mix for Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and winger Rick Nash, both of which would be excellent fits for their needs and – of course – provide them with more high-end talent. Especially if they could add McDonagh to their top-4 defensive group.
The problem is, the Rangers are likely looking for at least one (perhaps two) promising young player(s) who would be NHL-ready. Think Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, DeBrusk, or Heinen.
Clearly, Neely would prefer to deal from their deep prospect pool that includes the likes of: defensemen Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Ryan Lindgren, and Urho Vaakanainen; forwards Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Trent Frederic, Ryan Donato, Jesse Gabrielle, Zach Senyshyn, and Jake Studnicka; and goaltender Daniel Vladar.
They can’t keep all of these players long-term, so it would behoove Neely to make some moves with them at some point to improve the current team. Ideally, the Rangers would bite on 2-3 of the aforementioned prospects and a first-round pick to send McDonagh or Nash to Boston, but that may not be possible. If the Bruins’ top goal is not to disrupt the chemistry at the NHL level, then perhaps Oilers winger Patrick Maroon would be a better option.
There’s also the possibility that Donato, who is currently playing for Team USA at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, makes his NHL debut later this season for the B’s. It would likely burn the first year of his entry-level contract, but the winger could provide the Bruins with added skill and creativity on the wing. He could be an ideal fit for David Krejci – and at the same time, it would cost the team nothing but a year of his ELC.
Whatever the Bruins end up doing at the trade deadline, it appears that Neely (and, by extension, GM Don Sweeney) aren’t looking to mess too much with what they have in Boston right now. Considering their message of patience and dedication to developing their young talent, it would be consistent with what they’ve said in recent years. And right now, it’s obviously working.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.