Haggerty: Bruins should pass on Carlo-for-Landeskog swap

Haggerty: Bruins should pass on Carlo-for-Landeskog swap

BOSTON -- The Bruins are feeling good and striking a confident tone after ripping off a three-game winning streak headed into their bye week, as they should.

They may have misstepped by announcing the firing of Claude Julien on Patriots Parade Tuesday, but since then everything they've done has worked.


The up-tempo, higher-risk offense has produced 14 goals -- and from many distant corners of the roster -- in the three games. Players like David Krejci, Ryan Spooner, Jimmy Hayes and Colin Miller, all of whom underachieved under Julien, are showing signs of life with Bruce Cassidy begind the bench.

Now it’s up to the front office to make the right call in the two weeks leading to the March 1 trade deadline, and potentially help out a Bruins team that entered Monday still very much in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. 

Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, assistant GM Chris MacFarland and amateur scout Neil Shea were all at the Garden on Sunday night to watch both Boston and Montreal. According to Boston Globe scribe Fluto Shinzawa, Sakic and Don Sweeney spent the balance of the second period chatting. 

The Habs are highly interested in Matt Duchene and the Bruins have been sniffing around Gabriel Landeskog for months. The Avalanche are going nowhere fast in the Western Conference with a roster that needs to be broken up and reshaped, and Sakic knows it. 

An Eastern Conference source confirmed to that the Bruins are currently focused on getting Landeskog from the Avalanche, and on its face this kind of deal makes a lot of sense. He’s a 24-year-old power forward on the left wing who has been good for 20 goals and 55 points just about every healthy year of his NHL career, and has been a leader as the young captain out in Colorado. But this season Landeskog, like many of his teammates, has been terrible: 11 goals and 22 points along with a minus-17 in 43 games. 

Landeskog could give the Bruins the kind of big-bodied finisher they don’t have nearly enough of, and he certainly fits the profile of the big, skilled winger (Nathan Horton, Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic, etc.) that could produce early and often on a line with Krejci. There’s also cost-certainty with Landeskog, as he’s signed for four more years at an annual salary of $5.571 million after this season, and that’s not a bad number if he can get back to the 23 goals and 59 points he posted just a couple of years ago. 

Certainly a player like Landeskog fits the profile of what Boston is looking for at the trade deadline: A young player who will be part of the rebuilding process rather than a no-name rental like Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles, on whom the Bruins wasted draft-pick assets at the last deadline. 

“I’d prefer to err on the side of a player that will integrate into us on the longer term,” Sweeney said during the press conference to announce Julien’s firing last week. “Last year, we gave up draft picks. I wasn’t prepared to move players that I felt, in the same regard, that teams had asked for in order to get a higher-level rental or a different kind of rental. 

“I’m not going to deviate. Are there players and do we have a surplus? That’s what I want to try and evaluate, and find out whether or not we can deal from a position of strength.”  

So while the message is clear that the Bruins aren’t going to part with their best young assets in any deal, Sweeney left something open to interpretation. Does he believe he can give up 20-year-old, top shutdown pairing D-man Brandon Carlo in a deal that involves Landeskog because Boston University’s Charlie McAvoy is coming next season as a potential, right-shot No. 1 D-man in the making? Does Sweeney believe McAvoy, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Ryan Lindgren and others coming down the prospect pipeline allow the B’s to deal off Carlo, who projects to be a top-4 shutdown defenseman with some offensive upside at the NHL level? Does he believe that McAvoy, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Colin Miller on the right side provide enough depth at the NHL level to part with Carlo? 

You have to believe Carlo, a Colorado Springs native, would have to be included in any deal to entice Sakic to move a piece like Landeskog in hopes of improving an Avalanche team that's last in the NHL in defense this season.

But the thing that should give Sweeney pause is that none of the non-Carlo Bruins prospects project to be a 6-foot-5 defensive stopper with a wide wing span, good physicality and an active stick who can neutralize offensive players in their tacks. Once Zdeno Chara has moved on, the B's will need a top-4 guy who can bang bodies and make life difficult for intruders in Boston’s defensive zone. That's something Carlo will be all about as he matures into a finished NHL product. 

Also, the Bruins believe Carlo is going to further develop offensively, given his vision, passing and strong shot from the point. 

“I think [Carlo] is going to be a mid-level point producer in this league,” said Cassidy. “He’s already doing it to a certain extent. If you look at his numbers they project to about 20 points, and that’s not bad in today’s NHL for a guy that doesn’t play on the power play. I certainly wouldn’t call him an offensive defenseman, but he’s a 200-foot player in my estimation. 

“He will continue to develop that part of his game. He’s got a heavy shot when he gets it off. There are times where his hands get out in front of him and he doesn’t make the play, but we’re encouraging him to make those plays. He can make those plays. I think he sees the ice really well.”

On the other hand, there are some definite warning signs about Landeskog with the Avalanche so willing to move a young captain on a semi-reasonable long-term contract. It should give Sweeney and Co. a little pause about what that says about Landeskog as a player amidst a bad season. 

This humble hockey writer’s opinion: Dealing a top D-man like Carlo on an entry-level deal would be a big mistake for the Bruins unless they get a game-changing, superstar young player. Landeskog is a good player who would fill a need in the short term and long term, but he’s been good, not great, in Colorado. 

The Bruins are just beginning to gather some momentum with a three-game winning streak under Cassidy, and 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik has looked like he might even be able to give them exactly what they need as that big-bodied left winger alongside Krejci. It would be a big mistake to deal Carlo believing they have a surplus of young D-men on a rebuilding team, since you never, ever have a surplus of good NHL defensemen. 

You can simply never have enough good, young D-man in this day and age of the salary cap NHL. And Landeskog isn’t a good enough player to test that theory by parting with one.

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

AP Photo

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

GOLD STAR: Every once in a while Brad Marchand wills the Bruins to a win that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had, and that happened again on Friday night with a three-point explosion for No. 63 in the final 20 minutes. Marchand finished with a goal and three points in 19:57 of ice time along with a plus-2 rating, and played a key role in the three-goal outburst that allowed the B’s to vanquish a 2-0 deficit. It was Marchand that opted not to shoot from the face-off dot with a look at the net in the closing seconds, and instead dropped it down low to David Pastrnak as he curled around the net and pushed a puck past Kari Lehtonen for the game-winner. Marchand finished with two shots on net, eight total shot attempts and a number of big plays in the third period redirecting pucks in close, kicking off shorthanded scoring plays and then setting up clutch game-winners in the final 15 seconds of the game. It’s the kind of night where Marchand played like an MVP even if he isn’t going to get much of a sniff at the Hart Trophy. 

BLACK EYE: Jamie Benn scored a shorthanded goal for the Dallas Stars, but he also jumped up in the air and clobbered Brad Marchand from behind with a completely unnecessary hit in the third period that went without a penalty being called. Instead it seemed to incense Marchand, who never gave up in the final sequence and ultimately fed a pass to David Pastrnak down low for the game-winner with just 11.1 seconds remaining in the game. Benn finished a minus-2 for Dallas while being on the ice for a pair of goals against, had a brutal 1-for-7 performance in the face-off dot and really acted like a punk on the play with Marchand in the third period. Benn is a better player than that and shouldn’t be resorting that level on a fellow star player like Marchand. 

TURNING POINT: Once again the Bruins really turned things around in the third period while outscoring the Stars by a 3-0 margin, and really flooding the Dallas net with 10 of their 36 shots on net for the night. It all started with a relentless shift from Boston’s top line where Riley Nash made a pass from his knees before taking a big hit, and then Brad Marchand redirected a David Pastrnak shot from the slot off his leg and into the net for Boston’s first goal. That first score finally allowed the Bruins to begin building some momentum, score each of the next two goals as the game slipped away from Dallas and once again proved themselves as a hockey club that one doesn’t ever doubt in the third period. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Tuukka Rask had a career-high 40 saves and turned away some really good looks from the Dallas offense while showing exactly what the Bruins can be capable of when their goaltending is on point. The only goals that beat Rask were a first period score with droves of traffic in front of the net, and a second period shorthanded score for Jamie Benn where he pulled one of those unconventional finishing moves on Rask at the very end. Rask made 11 saves on the Dallas power play alone during a trio of PP chances, and made a crucial leg pad save on Antoine Roussel in the third period that helped open things up for the goal-scoring outburst late in the game. Hopefully the strong, resounding performance from Rask answers some of the questions about some of his recent so-so performances between the pipes.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 29 – the number of goals this season for David Pastrnak as he readies to become only the ninth Bruins player to hit the 30-goal plateau in back-to-back seasons over the last 35 years of franchise history. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Resiliency. We didn’t want to go quietly for sure. We can live with the end result as long as we play the right way. The end result went our way again in the end, and I think that’s a credit to the guys.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN about another comeback win for the Black and Gold.

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

AP Photo

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

DALLAS - David Pastrnak broke a tie with 12 seconds left and the Boston Bruins scored three straight goals in the third period to rally past the fading Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.

A scramble followed a faceoff in the Dallas end, and Brad Marchand passed to Pastrnak in front. While falling down, he put the puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

TALKING POINTS: B's resiliency on full display vs Stars

Tuukka Rask made a season-high 40 saves for the Bruins. Marchand scored Boston's first goal and also assisted on a short-handed goal by Tim Schaller that tied it midway through the third period.

The second-place Bruins won for the first time in three games (1-0-2) to move within four points of Atlantic Division leader Tampa Bay. Boston has already clinched a playoff berth.

The Stars are winless in their last seven games (0-5-2). They remained four points behind Colorado for the second Western Conference wild card.

Dallas led 2-0 on a first-period goal by Esa Lindell and Jamie Benn's short-handed score late in the second.

In the third, Marchand tipped in a shot by Pastrnak before Schaller scored on a 2-on-1 with Marchand.

Lehtonen finished with 33 saves.

Lindell scored 2:26 into the game. Jason Dickinson tried to deflect a shot from the right point into the net but the puck went wide right. Curtis McKenzie picked it up behind the goal line and passed to Lindell high in the left faceoff circle. His wrist shot went in off Rask's right arm.

Benn missed two good scoring opportunities early in the second period, but connected at 19:22. He took a pass from Tyler Seguin at the Dallas blue line and had a breakaway when Matt Grzelcyk fell down. Benn slid a backhand under Rask.