Boston Bruins

Dec 28, 2021; San Jose, California, USA; Arizona Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse (67) reacts after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Lost in the madness of COVID postponements and a schedule that’ll melt your mind to goop is the fact that trade deadline season is rapidly approaching the Bruins and the rest of the NHL.

And on Saturday, the Bruins found themselves officially linked to one of the market’s scoring talents.

It’s following a familiar trend of sorts for the Bruins, too, with the team said to have shown an interest in big-bodied Arizona left winger Lawson Crouse, according to Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek.

Standing at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, the 24-year-old Crouse has been one of the lone bright spots on a straight-up dreadful Arizona squad this year, with nine goals and 17 points through 32 games. That’s put the No. 11 overall pick from the 2015 NHL Draft on pace for what would be a breakout 23-goal and 43-point season in the desert, which would smash both his previous career-best totals in goals (15 in 2019-20) and points (25 in both 2018-19 and 2019-20).

Not bad at all.

All nine of Crouse’s goals in 2021-22 have come at five-on-five, too, tying for the 21st-most five-on-five goals among all NHL forwards this season. Crouse has been among the league’s most effective beyond the raw data, with only 12 of a 153 qualifying forwards averaging more five-on-five goals per 60 minutes than Crouse’s 1.28 (minimum 400 minutes played this season). Among that group of 153 forwards, Crouse also ranks 45th in individual scoring chances for (8.81) and 39th in individual high-danger chances (4.12) per 60.

Again, not bad at all.

Crouse is also one of just two forwards to average at least one goal and 10 hits per 60 minutes of five-on-five play this year, joining the Preds’ Tanner Jeannot there. (Nashville’s Yakov Trenin and the Capitals’ Tom Wilson are certainly close, in case you’re wondering, with both players averaging over 0.90 goals and over 10 hits per 60 this season.)

I’m not saying it again. Because it’s clear that the Bruins, even with their recent strides and more balanced scoring attack, could use that kind of boost in their forward group.

But perhaps most notably, Crouse is in the final year of his current $1.533 million per year contract, and will be an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent at the end of the year. And with the Coyotes in the midst of what can only be described as a nuclear winter rebuild, there’s almost no chance a raise is coming in Arizona. Just ask Conor Garland.

And if you’re into connecting potential dots to build a trade, the Coyotes were also among those linked to Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk when word of DeBrusk’s trade request went public. (We actually highlighted Crouse as a potential trade piece of interest should the Bruins have an interest in exiling DeBrusk to Arizona.)

It would seem that there’s a solid building block of sorts when it comes to a potential trade.

Now, the flip side is that the Bruins are pretty comfortable at left wing — the Bruins currently have six natural left wings on their roster and another two who can move to left wing when necessary (Erik Haula and Tomas Nosek) — and they may have more pressing needs when it comes to spending their already-limited trade capital.

But at least we finally have a name to link to the Black and Gold.

The 2022 NHL trade deadline is set for March 21 at 3 p.m. ET.

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