Boston Bruins

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: Boston Bruins General manager Don Sweeney speaks to the media during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

Defenseman Hampus Lindholm was one hell of a start for Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins.

Keyword there? “Start.” If you ask me point blank, I do not believe that the Bruins are done. In fact, barring the team deciding that every single price is too high between now and 3 p.m., I know they’re not done.

With the Ducks retaining half of Lindholm’s contract for the remainder of the season and the inclusion of defenseman John Moore (along with Urho Vaakanainen) in the deal with Anaheim, the money-in, money-out was practically a wash for the Bruins. That alone tells you they want to do more by the final horn. But this is also a Black and Gold squad that was shooting higher than where they landed even within the Lindholm talks with the Ducks, and one that still has some needs to address.

Namely up front, with Sweeney absolutely interested in adding another forward between now and the deadline.

“Yeah, I want to continue to explore it over the next two days,” Sweeney admitted Sunday. “We’re looking at every possible situation to add to our group,” Sweeney said on Sunday ahead of the team’s flight to Montreal. “Obviously, we’ve given up future assets that affect decision-making where I sit today. We’re gonna still continue to look and see if we can improve our team. We’re comfortable with where our team is at and how they’re playing, injuries aside and the unknown.”

But as the Bruins know better than most, injuries and the unknown are borderline unavoidable.

“Certainly the calls have picked up in the last day or so, but certainly [Monday] will be a little bit more frantic,” Sweeney acknowledged. “People are sort of jockeying and done their due diligence in terms of teams that have been interested and are circling back because the market has moved.”

So, what happens between now and the 3 p.m. deadline?

  • Oct 16, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Vancouver Canucks right wing Conor Garland (8) prepares during a face off against the Detroit Red Wings in the first period at Little Caesars Arena. (Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports)

    Do Bruins shift focus to the wing?

    If there’s a high price to be paid, I think the Bruins naturally gravitate towards players with term and/or players they’re confident they can keep around beyond the stretch run. They always viewed Rick Nash as more than a rental and then concussion woes had their say. Charlie Coyle came to Boston from Minnesota with term. Ondrej Kase was an oft-injured but cost-controlled wing (and that was the Bruins trying to make the best out of a bad situation by needing out of the David Backes contract) with term left on his deal, and Taylor Hall’s buy-in led to a multi-year extension between he and the Bruins. Again, if the Bruins are paying what they consider top dollar for an in-season upgrade, they really like the idea of stability.

    I think that’s important to note this time around, especially with the Canucks’ Conor Garland perhaps on the block.

    In Vancouver for a seven-game homestand and fighting for their playoff lives every single night, the Canucks capped a straight-up miserable home-ice run with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Sabres on Sunday night. That gave Vancouver a 2-3-2 record during that make-or-break run in their own building, and has left them with a 5.8 percent chance of making the 2022 playoffs, according to MoneyPuck’s latest playoff odds model. A mad dash of a sell-off could very well be underway by the day’s end.

    The Bruins have already checked in with the Canucks about some of their players, and Garland is likely at the top of their list, especially if the Canucks are not going to trade center J.T. Miller this deadline. The Bruins have been hot for Garland for a long, long time now, and he checks an awful lot of boxes for them. He’s a right-shot right wing, he’s produced within some dreadful systems between Arizona and Vancouver, and he’s under contract through 2026 at $4.95 million per season. Oh, and he’s from the South Shore as a Scituate, Mass. native, and if there’s one thing the Bruins love, it’s the South Shore. (Honestly, how isn’t MaryLou’s the official sponsor of this team by now?)

    If he’s made available, I think he jumps right to the top of their list.

    Other potential wingers of note entering deadline day: Arizona’s Phil Kessel and the Blue Jackets’ Max Domi. The latter is probably more likely than the former, but the focus really should be on adding another right shot or natural right wing. An underrated name I like: Buffalo’s Vinnie Hinostroza. He’s done some damage against Atlantic Division playoff teams this year.

     

  • Nov 26, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp (9) during a game between the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center. (Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports)

    Is high-end center help actually available?

    There also continues to be chatter regarding the Jets’ Andrew Copp. The Bruins have been linked to Copp, with the 27-year-old in the midst of a career year, with 13 goals and 35 points through 56 games. Copp has also put forth an impressive year as a faceoff option, and the Bruins would love to add someone like that to take some of the weight off Patrice Bergeron’s shoulders. But Winnipeg’s asking price could be a problem for Boston, with the Jets seeking a first-round pick for the pending unrestricted free agent in a center-lacking trade market. The best they’ve been offered so far is a package of two second-round picks, according to Frank Seravalli. Unless the Bruins are trading their second-round picks into 2025, it’s not from Boston.

    And the Copp situation is an example of why the Bruins may focus on the wings this deadline.

    The Bruins were aggressive in their approach of Claude Giroux. Understandably so. He was quite literally the perfect addition for a Boston squad with potential openings at second-line center and first-line right wing. Giroux has experience at both positions, and his presence could’ve been enough to elevate the Bruins to legit Cup contender status. But he shot down a trade to Boston, and channeled his inner ’21 Taylor Hall and made it known he wanted to be in Florida. And before that happened, the market’s other top tier option, the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl, decided to sign a massive extension in San Jose.

    David Krejci also passed on a return to the Boston Bruins.

    So, who’s the next-best behind Copp if the Canucks’ Miller isn’t available? Take your pick of a project, from Dylan Strome to Jack Roslovic to Colin White. It’s not exactly a loaded group.

    If Copp is indeed the best bet on the center market, perhaps it’s best to just stick with Erik Haula in the middle of your second line and hope that you can get strong enough center support behind Bergeron on the aggregate between Haula, Coyle, and Tomas Nosek. And Jack Studnicka, who had a strong showing in last Friday’s win, remains the wild card at the position.

  • Mar 10, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen (32) makes a save on Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 10, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen (32) makes a save on Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) during the first period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    What, if anything, happens with Jake DeBrusk?

    The Jake DeBrusk situations remains a fascinating one ahead of today’s 3 p.m. deadline.

    DeBrusk wants out — and has wanted out since last summer — but the Bruins have made it clear that they’re not selling him off for pennies on the dollar. And the Bruins have yet to be blown away, or even blow slightly back, by any of the offers they’ve received for the pending restricted free agent with 15 goals and 26 points through 57 games this season. That hasn’t stopped DeBrusk’s camp from repeatedly making it known that they’ve like a solution (read as: a trade out of town) by the deadline.

    “I’ll continue to explore,” Sweeney said Sunday when asked about a DeBrusk trade. “I don’t think Jake has changed his opinion, but that doesn’t mean [a trade] happens and I’ve said that from Day 1. If I can make it fit for the Boston Bruins and helping our team — and Jake’s helping our team — I would certainly only do it with the fact that it’s going to help our team.”

    One thing to maybe consider here: The Bruins parted with two second-round picks in the Lindholm trade. Would they ‘sell low’ on DeBrusk if they could acquire a second-round pick and then flip it for a player? And is there anybody out there who wants DeBrusk enough to part with a second-round pick? That’s been the problem from the jump, really. But as the clock ticks closer and closer to 3 p.m., the market can and will shift. It’s just a matter of whether or not it shifts in their favor.

    But it doesn’t sound like a trade just for the sake of it will happen for No. 74.

    If it does happen, however, I do believe it will involve DeBrusk going out West.

  • MONTREAL, QC – NOVEMBER 05: A detail of the Boston Bruins logo is seen during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on November 5, 2019 in Montreal, Canada. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    More defense on the way?

    One thing that feels like a must for the Bruins, even with Lindholm in the fold, is a move for a defenseman.

    It doesn’t have to be another home run swing by the Bruins, but the Bruins are down to seven NHL defensemen on their roster (they’ve typically carried eight under Bruce Cassidy), and Jack Ahcan has become the organization’s de facto No. 8 defensemen with Urho Vaakanainen out of the equation. Ahcan is a bit more limited in terms of usage than Vaak. Move beyond Ahcan and things get real weird, with Kodie Curran (picked up in the Lindholm trade), Tyler Lewington, and Brady Lyle the next in line.

    The Bruins are especially thin on the right side, with Lewington the next in line in terms of right shots behind Connor Clifton.

    Given the way the Bruins routinely burn through defensemen in the postseason (can someone please sacrifice a chicken or something?), I would be downright shocked if they don’t make another move for defensive depth by today’s deadline.