Bruins

Why the Bruins should (and shouldn't) trade their first-round pick

Why the Bruins should (and shouldn't) trade their first-round pick


Don Sweeney said at the NHL combine that he’s willing to trade the 18th overall selection in this month’s draft. It’s something a GM should say, as it benefits no one to rule out all options this early. 

Yet should the Bruins actually move the pick? They’ve drafted well and they haven’t exactly crushed it in the trade market. Then again, the team has needs and plays in a bad (and therefore up-for-grabs) conference. 

Michael Felger expressed concerns over a possible trade involving the pick on Sports Sunday, which were warranted, but the Bruins shouldn’t necessarily be hell-bent on keeping the pick. Some things to consider: 

WHY THEY SHOULD TRADE THE PICK

- The Eastern Conference kind of sucks these days. The Senators made it to overtime of Game 7 of the conference finals. Plus, the Capitals won’t be able to keep the best roster in the conference together. 

So even though the Bruins are far away from where they once were, this conference might be there for the taking for a mediocre team. You’ve got to imagine the Lightning will bounce back, but adding another legitimate piece might actually make the B’s a contender in a very weak conference. 

- There are two obvious needs on the roster: Left wing and left-shot defenseman. If one is out there that’s at a reasonable age and price, the B’s would be wise to explore it. 

- Are they trying to contend or not? Zdeno Chara is in the final year of his contract, and although there’s a decent shot he’ll stick around on an extension, he’s 40. That he’s still a very good No. 1 defenseman is impressive, but there’s a whiz-or-get-off-the-pot element to the Chara window. 

WHY THEY SHOULDN’T

- The obvious question: What are they going to get? Sweeney has made three trades for  first-round picks, but he’s never traded a first-rounder himself. His track record of NHL moves is suspect, as his biggest moves in trade and free agency have netted the Bruins Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey and David Backes, all of whom have been overpays. 

A move involving Boston’s first-rounder would present Sweeney to make a potentially significant addition via trade and correct past missteps. It could also add to the list, however. 

- What does a first-rounder get you? Excluding deals made by the Bruins, some recent trades at the draft have seen teams acquire Griffin Reinhart, Bobby Ryan and Robin Lehner. In the case of the Ryan trade, the Senators also had to add prospects. So what could No. 18 get the Bruins given their needs?

Two names that come to mind: Gabriel Landeskog, who is signed for four more years at a bad cap hit of $5.5 million and Cam Fowler, who is still 25 and has one year left on his deal. Fowler could be an interesting pickup for the Bruins given that he's a skilled left-shot defenseman and won't cost them big against the cap ($4 million). Plus, Anaheim doesn't have a first-round pick. If the Bruins set out to acquire Landeskog, they should aim to have the Avalanche eat at least $1 million a year of that cap hit. 

- As Felger pointed out, spending the pick plays to this group’s strengths. Charlie McAvoy was not the surefire consensus pick at No. 13 last year -- Jakob Chychrun and Dante Fabbro could have been the pick and nobody would have batted an eye -- but Sweeney and his group made a home run of a selection. Same goes for 2015 second-rounder Brandon Carlo. When you’re good at drafting and the jury’s still out on your trading, why not just draft? 

- With the buyout charge to Dennis Seidenberg bumping up by $1 million and David Pastrnak set to get something like $6 million a year as a restricted free agent, the Bruins are looking at already being in the upper $60 millions range with a $73 million salary cap ceiling. Perhaps the B’s can shed a pricy contract via trade or by the Knights taking one off their hands in the expansion draft, but it’s not like the Bruins can afford to add a ton of salary this offseason. 

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

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Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee flavor at Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not Cookie Dough, but what is after all?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer James O’Brien has the details on Radko Gudas getting ejected for an ugly, reckless and dangerous slash to Mathieu Perreault’s head last night. Gudas should be facing a long suspension for a play that has no place in the NHL. It’s time for Flyers fans to stop making excuses for a player who’s no better than a cheap-shot artist and hatchet man. He has to face the music for consistently trying to hurt his fellow players.  

*Frank Seravalli has some of the details for a historic GM meeting in Montreal where NHL hockey was born in the first place.

*You always need to link to a service dog being part of the pregame face-off ceremonies. That’s like a rule here at the morning skate?

*Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a seven-year contract extension, according to reports from the Athletic.

*It’s been quite an eventful year for Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and some of it has been to the extreme both good and bad just a month into his first year as bench boss.

*For something completely different: Chris Mannix is all-in on the Celtics being the front-runners in the Eastern Conference after their big win over the Golden State Warriors.

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

These are desperate times for the Bruins even after pulling out a solid, blue-collar 2-1 win over a sputtering Los Angeles Kings team on Thursday night.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak and gave the Bruins just their second road win of the season in eight tries. It was also the fourth win of the season for backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is a sterling 4-0-2 and has given them everything they could possibly hope for out of the backup spot. The Bruins have a grand total of 18 points on the season and Khudobin miraculously has more than half of those (10 to be exact).

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It’s clearly a far cry from last season for Khudobin, of course, when it took until February for the goalie’s season to get in gear.

But Thursday night’s 27-save effort from Khudobin was also a stunning contrast to what Tuukka Rask has been able to produce this season. Khudobin has a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average. Rask has a dreadful .897 save percentage while giving them average play between the pipes at best.  

Khudobin is tied for seventh in the NHL with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in save percentage and Rask is chilling in the NHL goalie statistical basement with retreads Steve Mason and James Reimer.

Quite simply, Khudobin has been way better than Rask and the Bruins have, for whatever reason, played better hockey in front of their backup goalie. Some of it might also be about Khudobin’s more adaptable game behind a Boston defense that can make things unpredictable for their goaltender, but Rask is being paid $7 million a season to be better and figure it out. It would be amazing if this trend continued for the entire season and it would certainly merit more examination from management as to why the rest of the Bruins and Rask can’t seem to combine for an effective, winning product on the ice.

For now, the Bruins need to simply win by whatever means necessary and that amounts to riding Khudobin’s hot streak for as long as it lasts. It should begin with the backup goalie getting a second consecutive start against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and seeing where it goes from there. Perhaps the extra rest gets Rask additional time to get his game together, or serves as the kind of motivation to get the Finnish netminder into a mode where he can steal games for an undermanned, out-gunned team that needs that right now.

“We’re going to look at it,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked postgame by reporters in L.A. about his goalie for Saturday night. “He played very well against San Jose last time. They’re a heavy team. He seems to do well in these kinds of games with a lot of traffic around the net. But we’ll look at that decision [Friday].”

Khudobin has stopped 57 of 61 shots in his two games in November, so perhaps that level of hot goaltending could also allow the Bruins to survive a month that otherwise might absolutely bury their playoff hopes. Maybe Khudobin finally loses on Saturday night and the goaltending conversation, not controversy, ends as quickly as his point streak. For now, riding the hot goalie is the right call for a team that needs something good to hang onto.

The Bruins are in desperation mode until they get a number of their injured players back. There certainly might not be more of a desperate option than setting their beleaguered sights on a goalie they sent to the minors as recently as last season. But it’s a new season, Khudobin has been excellent and he’s earned a chance to carry this team for a little bit until they can get things back in order.

Calling Khudobin’s number is the right call right now for the Bruins and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be that difficult a choice given what we’ve seen so far this season. 

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