Sports Hub Underground

Sports Hub Underground

Sports Hub Underground

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The Bruins need to give up a big package in order to land a player of Bo Horvat’s caliber.

Despite the 2023 NHL trade deadline being over a month away, the New York Islanders decided to make their big move in late January with the addition of Horvat. They sent a first-round pick, forward Anthony Beauvillier, and top prospect Aatu Raty. So that now begs the question: if the Bruins want to trade for a true impact player like Horvat, what do they need to give up?

Ty Anderson and I explored that question on the newest episode of the Sports Hub Underground podcast, which you can listen to above (trade talk starts around the 20:30 mark). We agreed that, while the Canucks got a good return for Horvat, they really got the bare minimum, baseline deal you could get for a plug-and-play goal-scoring top-six forward.

So, what is the Bruins’ baseline?

  • Feb 1, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic (11), defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) and forward Charlie Coyle (13) celebrate a goal by defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 1, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic (11), defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) and forward Charlie Coyle (13) celebrate a goal by defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

  • On a recent Felger and Mazz show, Michael Felger posited that the Bruins’ comp in a Horvat-type deal would be Jake DeBrusk, top forward prospect Fabian Lysell, and a first-round pick. It’s almost right. Yes on the first and on Lysell, and you can swap in defenseman Mason Lohrei if the other team wants a blue liner. No on DeBrusk.

    And it’s not because DeBrusk is “untouchable,” as Felger retorted on Wednesday’s show. DeBrusk could be movable for the right player, but for a Horvat-like deal, he’d be an overpay. The more accurate comp for Beauvillier on the Bruins’ roster is actually Trent Frederic.

    Like Beauvillier, Frederic is a former late first-round pick (28th vs 29th). Beauvillier has regressed offensively and thus had trouble staying out of the bottom-six. At that point, Frederic is more valuable than Beauvillier because he’s better-built for the bottom-six game. Frederic may be a different kind of player, but he’s closer to Beauvillier than DeBrusk is.

    Say what you want about DeBrusk, and he certainly has had consistency issues in his career. But he has six more career goals (108 vs 102) than Beauvillier, in 100 fewer games. This season, he was on an 82-game pace of 36 goals before breaking his leg in the Winter Classic. He’s much better than Beauvillier, period.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 02: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 02, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 02: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 02, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

  • With that in mind, how much of an upgrade over DeBrusk would Horvat have even been this season? Horvat may have been a long-term play, with an extension in mind post-trade, a la Hampus Lindholm. But that wasn’t necessarily guaranteed.

    If the Bruins end up trading DeBrusk as part of a major trade package, the player coming back ought to be better than Horvat, or at least a comparable player with a bigger impact on their lineup and needs. But if it’s a left-shot defenseman, such as Jakob Chychrun from the Coyotes, they may be asking for Matt Grzelcyk or Brandon Carlo.

    Ty Anderson believes the Canucks would have wanted Carlo in a Horvat trade, and that’s why it didn’t materialize for the Bruins. They didn’t want to swap a defenseman for a forward, and cause an unfavorable domino effect on their blue line.

    “I think the Bruins are very cognizant and hyper-aware of rocking the boat too much with their NHL roster,” Anderson said on the Sports Hub Underground. “I think that they’re OK subtracting here and there, but they don’t want to completely reconfigure their roster.”

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 25: Brandon Carlo #25 of the Boston Bruins skates against Mason Marchment #27 of the Dallas Stars during the first period at TD Garden on October 25, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 25: Brandon Carlo #25 of the Boston Bruins skates against Mason Marchment #27 of the Dallas Stars during the first period at TD Garden on October 25, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • That also extends off the ice and into the locker room, where trading either Carlo or Grzelcyk would have potential to disrupt their internal chemistry. Both are well-liked internally, and getting rid of them mid-season could affect the room in ways we don’t see, and potentially translate to issues on the ice. It’s a big risk that better be nailed, especially now, with the Bruins looking closer to a Stanley Cup-caliber team than they have in years.

    “I don’t know what their appetite is to make that trade happen,” Anderson said. “[Grzelcyk and Carlo] are big locker room guys. People don’t realize it. They are big locker room guys. Brandon Carlo is their NHLPA rep.

    “Grzelcyk is boys with Charlie McAvoy, who’s your franchise defenseman. Do you really want to upset Charlie McAvoy?”

    At the same time, upgrading from Grzelcyk to Chychrun would give the Bruins a top-4 on defense that you could stack up against any team in the league. Chychrun has better size (6-foot-2) than Grzelcyk and has proven able to score at a higher level.

    BOSTON, MA - MAY 21: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins reacts with Charlie McAvoy #73 after scoring in the third period in Game Four of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on May 21, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – MAY 21: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins reacts with Charlie McAvoy #73 after scoring in the third period in Game Four of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on May 21, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

  • But if the Bruins really need a left-shot defenseman with more size, who can withstand a playoff-level forecheck better than Grzelcyk has shown, then they don’t need to take a home run swing for Chychrun. They could target the Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov, who has been linked to the B’s in recent rumors. Gavrikov is a big boy (6-foot-3) who knows his way around the defensive end, so there’s no way he’d get pushed around the way Grzelcyk would.

    Realistically, the Bruins’ biggest moves have already been made. Lindholm and Hall have been massive additions, while the swap of Erik Haula for Pavel Zacha has looked like a virtual masterstroke for Don Sweeney. Trades in general have been a bright spot of Sweeney’s tenure as Bruins GM, and he’s made some kind of mid-season move every single year, so there’s reason to be confident that he will make another this year and it will be good for the team.

    It just might not be as big, or involve the kind of players, that you might expect.

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 18: Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins attends the 2019 NHL Awards Nominee Media Availability at the Encore Las Vegas on June 18, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 18: Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins attends the 2019 NHL Awards Nominee Media Availability at the Encore Las Vegas on June 18, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • There’s still plenty of time for Sweeney to make a trade, but he’s swung deals well before the deadline in the past, and the Bruins are already involved in some juicy rumors. We’ll continue to keep you covered on everything around the Bruins at the trade deadline, and offer whatever insight we can share, here at 985TheSportsHub.com. Deadline is March 3.

    And be sure to subscribe to the Sports Hub Underground if you’re looking for weekly Bruins thoughts from Ty Anderson and myself.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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