For what felt like a billion seasons in a row, the Bruins had the second-line center, but needed the second-line winger.
Last year, they finally got the winger with their heist of Taylor Hall, and actually managed to keep Hall around on a four-year extension, only to lose the center with David Krejci’s decision to leave the NHL for a return to the Czech Republic. Because of course. Why should any of us have nice things? Now, nobody within the locker room or organization faulted Krejci for leaving the Bruins. When you wanna go home, you go home. And he only told us about this plan about six years in advance.
But it did create one gigantic hole for the Bruins to fill on their second line.
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The Bruins did not address that in the offseason, and when training camp failed to produce a legitimate winner for that vacancy, the Bruins decided to tweak the line by pairing Hall with David Pastrnak on the second line. And with that combo needing a center, the Bruins tabbed Erik Haula as the man the middle of the that one-two winger punch. It’s a combo that’s worked, too, with the Bruins outshooting opponents 151-127 and outscoring them 14-10 in 278 five-on-five minutes together.
“I mean yeah, I guess until you have a better option to consider, right?” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier this week when asked about Haula ‘cementing’ his role as the team’s second-line center.”We’ve had other guys up there, [but] this seems to work the best for the team. He’s embraced it. Done a nice job away from the puck and a nice job in the circle, complementing those guys on the rush .. He seems to have relished that, so we’ll leave him there for now.”
It’s a role that is somewhat familiar to Haula, too, as the Finnish centerman tallied a career-best 29 goals and 55 points as the Golden Knights’ second-line center on their run to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
But while this trio has worked, there’s a natural belief that the Bruins may very well be a second-line center upgrade away from legitimate contention, and this trade market may very well have its share of options on that front.
So, who is and could be on the Bruins’ radar between now and the upcoming trade deadline?