The Bruins should, and will, be buyers at the NHL trade deadline. In fact they already are. The question is what they’re willing to buy and how much they’re looking to spend.
Don Sweeney’s recent comments – as well as his latest move – suggest that any further moves for the Bruins will be minor in nature.
Considering how well the Bruins have played for the better part of two months now – at 37-13-8, they’re just one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the best record in the league with two games in hand – Sweeney and team president Cam Neely don’t sound interested in disrupting the NHL roster for the sake of making a big splash.
It’s up to you how to feel about the idea that the Bruins won’t be going for Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh or winger Rick Nash, or even bigger fish like the Senators’ Erik Karlsson. But you should reasonably expect that any other trade they make will be similar to the one made for the Rangers’ Nick Holden.
“We’re going to continue to look at the marketplace and see where guys may fit in, who’s available, continue the calls that happen a lot more frequently this time of year and see where it goes,” Sweeney told reporters on Tuesday. Our club has played well, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
The “long way to go” part suggests the same thing that Neely recently said about the Bruins being “ahead of schedule” in the development of the younger parts of their roster. They certainly love where the Bruins are at, but they’re not exactly ready to go all-in on this particular season. They probably need to deal off several young assets for a bigger piece at some point soon, but this season does not appear to be that time.
Now that the Bruins have Holden in the fold, and likely plan to work him into a regular role as a left-shot defenseman in the top-3 pairings, that’s probably their lone trade on the blue line. Sweeney described the deal as a move for depth, suggesting that they plan to keep Matt Grzelcyk as a seventh option rather than move him in another deal.
What To Expect At The Trade Deadline
The Bruins could also use a right wing to park next to David Krejci, and their reported interest in Oilers winger Patrick Maroon indicates that they want someone with size. Maroon may not cost any pieces off the NHL roster, but a top-six forward may ultimately bring a markedly bigger price than Holden did. Not exactly a minor move, but far from a major shake-up.
It remains to be seen whether Sweeney and Neely are willing to part with someone like Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, or Brandon Carlo in any kind of deal – but they certainly don’t seem willing to do so.
Sweeney may yet make a move for a piece the Bruins need. But if you’re expecting fireworks, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. Then again, if you’re like yours truly and you’d rather they stick with what’s working at the NHL level, that they make a smaller move to supplement their forward group with depth – or at least find a better fit for Krejci’s right wing than Ryan Spooner – then it’s likely you’re satisfied with what Sweeney’s done (or not done) and what he’ll do next.
No Big Fish?
You may want the Bruins to Go For It™ this season. Especially since this could be the last time you see their veteran core of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci all playing this well together. But the front office apparently doesn’t see it that way. And when you look at how Chara & Co. shut down Connor McDavid, they may be onto something if they feel this group has a few more years of playing at a high level.
It sounds pretty clear that if the Bruins are going to get a big-name player, they won’t do it unless they don’t have to touch the NHL roster. So Sweeney and Neely’s recent comments could simply be a message to teams like the Rangers to lower their price. But ultimately, that’s highly unlikely.
So when the Feb. 26 trade deadline rolls around, expect at least one more move – just nothing too spectacular.
— 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.