What was expected to be a potentially frantic deadline day for the Bruins came with just one additional trade before the 3 p.m. Monday, as the Bruins added depth defenseman Josh Brown for Zach Senyshyn and a late-draft pick swap.
It wasn’t the grand finale many had hoped for, but it also doesn’t sound like that was ever really on the table for the Bruins by the time the deadline rolled around, according to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.
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“We certainly had an awful lot of inquiries in terms of what we were trying to probably augment our group,” Sweeney said following the deadline. “Moving the pieces around and where guys were going to play was a little bit of a challenge for us if it didn’t really move the needle.”
To Sweeney’s point, the top player on the move Monday was the Ducks’ Rickard Rakell, who went to the Penguins for Zach Aston-Reese, a second-round pick, and a prospect. The Bruins tried on Rakell, a pending unrestricted free agent, when they made their move for Hampus Lindholm this past weekend, according to a source. That would’ve come with an even higher price paid from Boston’s already-limited trade capital, and there was a lot of risk involved from the B’s point of view.
Outside of Rakell, Monday’s deadline day featured a whole lot of bottom-six talent moving around; Tyler Motte, Zach Sanford, Johan Larsson, Riley Nash, Ryan Carpenter and more. And if there’s one thing the Bruins have a glut of in 2022, it’s players whose best work comes in such roles. You had some middle-six tweeners such as Vladdy Namestnikov and Max Domi move, but they weren’t changing the overall complexion of this group in a talented-as-hell Atlantic.
So while the Bruins weren’t against the idea of adding some additional depth (no Cup contender should be), it needed to make sense beyond the whole ‘making a trade just to be part of the fun’ angle.
“Obviously, we would like to have probably added a little more depth there,” Sweeney admitted. “But several of our guys have really stepped up and played well and feel that we’re in a good spot overall with our hockey club.”
That last part of that is important to note. The Bruins really like what they have on their second and third lines for the first time in a long time. There wasn’t a clear cut external upgrade over Erik Haula for the spot between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak — and the Bruins matching the Rangers’ offer for Andrew Copp would’ve left them without a second-round pick through 2025 and down a prospect (probably Jack Studnicka) — available once Tomas Hertl re-signed and Claude Giroux forced his way to Sunrise. And they really don’t want to break up their third line with Trent Frederic to the left of Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith.
And if and when it comes time to change it up, guys like Studnicka and Oskar Steen will become the go-to choices for the Bruins. They won’t be saviors, and this trade market didn’t have a savior available in its final hours.
So the Bruins will instead hope that their own needle continues to move in the right direction down the stretch.
“We’ve monitored our team closely from January on in terms of how we’ve played, goal scoring’s gone up. February on, we’ve played well. We’ve defended well all year [and] we’re going to continue to do that,” Sweeney said. “You have two goaltenders who are going to go through a stretch run in the playoffs for the first time.
“Let’s just saddle up.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has been covering the Bruins since 2010, and has been a member of the Boston chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.