Bruins

Should the Bruins jump on Paul Martin, who's available via waivers?

martin_sharks_111618.jpg

Should the Bruins jump on Paul Martin, who's available via waivers?

The Bruins have long been in the market for a left shot defenseman that could eat minutes, bring a little experience and perhaps form a pairing with Charlie McAvoy that would allow Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo to reform last season’s shutdown pairing. Several hockey sources indicated to NBCSportsBoston.com that the Bruins had kicked the tires on Pittsburgh defenseman Ian Cole, but that the price for him was deemed too high at the time of those discussions. Well, another veteran left shot defenseman has become available with the San Jose Sharks placing 36-year-old Cup winning defenseman Paul Martin on waivers.

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Martin has been limited to three games this season due to an ankle injury with the Sharks, and San Jose failed to find any takers in a trade given the $4.85 million cap hit through next season for the graybeard D-man. But Martin played in 81 games for the Sharks as recently as last season while averaging a tick under 20 minutes per game, and is the kind of puck-moving, solid-defending D-man that they’ve been looking for in trade discussions. 

Martin finished with four goals and 26 points along with a plus-10 for the Sharks last season, and by all accounts should be able to still perform if given an opportunity to work his way into the Black and Gold lineup. 

Why not pick up Martin for nothing aside from his contract when he’s been a top-4 defenseman his entire career rather than trade for a guy like that’s never averaged 20 minutes per game during his entire NHL career? 

Here’s what Bruins President Cam Neely told the Season Ticket podcast earlier this season when asked what the B’s would be looking for at the trade deadline. 

“We’re always looking at the club and seeing where we can upgrade and I think we could probably find some depth on the right side up front and maybe on the left D side,” said Neely. “We’ve talked about ... a guy that can eat up some minutes—move the puck well, skate well—but not necessarily have to be that offensive defensemen.”

That certainly sounds a lot like a description of what Martin has been throughout his 14-year. 859-game NHL career with the Devils, Penguins and Sharks. 

Clearly the Bruins would have to do a little roster maneuvering to make it happen salary cap-wise, and might even have to deal off a useful NHL asset like Ryan Spooner or Adam McQuaid. But they could also finally lock in a top-4 left shot defenseman that would allow them to push Torey Krug down to a bottom pairing role more befitting his strengths and weaknesses, as well as reunite the Chara and Carlo shutdown pair. 

The real question is whether the Bruins believe that Martin has something left in the tank at 36 years old to give them two serviceable seasons before young D-man prospects like Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon or Urho Vaakanainen might be ready to step in and supplant him. If the Bruins think that Martin can still play and they are correct in that assessment, they could land the type of grizzled, proven D-man they’ve been looking for and give up nothing for him if they put in a claim and pick up his contract before noontime tomorrow.

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Bruins closing in on Nash with many details to iron out

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Bruins closing in on Nash with many details to iron out

TORONTO – It sounds like the Boston Bruins are on the verge of a fairly substantial trade if they can iron out some of the details both big and small.

According to multiple reports and sources, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is closing in on a trade for New York Rangers winger Rick Nash ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline. The 33-year-old Nash has 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games this season for the Blueshirts, and really has been in decline over the last couple of years in New York since scoring 42 goals and 69 points back in the 2014-15 season.

Still, Nash has quite the resume as the first overall pick in the 2002 NHL Draft and a guy that’s scored over 400 goals and nearly 800 points in his 14-year NHL career while starring for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rangers during that time. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder would bring the size, heaviness and experience factor that the Bruins have been looking to add to their wing ahead of the stretch run and playoffs, and certainly could be energized down the stretch while potentially playing a second line role with a center like David Krejci.

Don Sweeney indicated prior to the reports surfacing that the Bruins could be more invested into the rental market this season, given their strong campaign, than they originally thought they’d be when the season started.

“We’d like to think that the group can continue on along the path that they’re on, but if you can add to it and help it…the rental market depends on what you’re going to give up, and what that impact of that player is necessarily going to be and how they’re going to fit into the group,” said Sweeney. “The chemistry piece is an important piece in and around the trade deadline, so that’s something we have to be cognizant of.”

There are, however, a couple of issues for the Bruins and Rangers to work out before it’s a done deal. One is the massive cap hit for Nash that would still be well over $3 million even if the Rangers agree to eat half of his remaining contract, and that would leave the Bruins to need to clear some space with a corresponding deal elsewhere. There’s also the matter of ponying up assets in exchange for Nash, who it’s believed would cost the Bruins a first round pick and a solid prospect that is not yet on the NHL roster.

That means the Bruins would able to avoid potentially dealing Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk or Danton Heinen from their NHL roster, which it wasn’t expected they would need to move in a rental deal for Nash. But it does mean the Bruins likely would be parting with a blue chip prospect still in the development stage, whether it’s Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Jakub Zboril, Zach Senyshyn or even a college hockey prospect like Trent Frederic.

That’s a big price to pay from Boston’s future to be sure, but it would be done based on Nash being an impact player this season for a Bruins team that looks like they might have a pretty good postseason run in them.

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Rough stretch of hockey for Brandon Carlo

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AP Photo

Rough stretch of hockey for Brandon Carlo

GOLD STAR: Nazem Kadri really stepped up for the Maple Leafs without Auston Matthews, and showed his goal-scoring prowess with a couple of power play strikes. The first was a great tipped pass from JVR to Kadri waiting all alone in the face-off circle, and the second was a give-and-go with Mitch Marner where the Leafs agitator finally slammed it home from the high slot for his 23rd goal of the season. Kadri was a minus-2 in the game as his line had their struggles against the Patrice Bergeron line, but he was great at the offensive end with the two goals, a game-high eight shots on net and a couple of takeaways in a pretty active 17:49 of ice time. Kadri certainly showed that he needs to be accounted for during the PP where he twice stung the B’s.

BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo had a pretty tough night finishing with just 13:32 of ice time while he was on the ice for three goals against. A couple of them were on the penalty kill, so Carlo only finish a minus-1 for the game, but the 21-year-old is a minus-5 on the current road trip and has been struggling this week as the Bruins roll into the NHL trade deadline. After being on ice for the two goals against with the shots coming from his side in the first period, it appeared that Carlo lost his confidence and wasn’t trying to make plays for the rest of the night. So at points Carlo hit the pine as Bruce Cassidy was rotating through the other 5 D-men, and the Bruins coaches are left with something to think about as they write out their lineup for Sunday afternoon in Buffalo.

TURNING POINT: It came down to the final two minutes in the game when Ron Hainsey scored the game-winner for the Maple Leafs on a long bomb from the point with Zach Hyman grinding in front of the Boston net. In fact Hyman was grinding so much that he pushed Charlie McAvoy directly into Tuukka Rask as he was tracking the puck, and knocked him off balance where he couldn’t make a play from the deep perimeter. The goal was ruled a good one on the ice, and a coach’s challenge for goalie interference somewhat surprisingly didn’t go Boston’s way. It looked clear-cut that McAvoy was shoved into his goaltender, but apparently the NHL is determined to make everybody unsure of the new goalie interference interpretation. The challenge from the Bruins was overruled, and the Leafs won the game on a controversial call.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron was outstanding in the game, which made it all the more perplexing when he walked out of the Air Canada Centre following the game wearing a protective right boot. Bergeron finished with a game-high 19:15 of ice time among the forwards, notched a couple of assists and a plus-2 rating, had six shot attempts, two hits, two takeaways and won 15-of-22 face-offs while also playing the final 1:23 of the game. It appeared that Bergeron’s right foot was hit by a shot earlier in the game where he was able to finish out the game, but clearly it was bothering him a bit after it was all over. It’s a credit to No. 37’s toughness that he was able to play so well during the game while in clear discomfort.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1-2-1 – the Bruins’ record against the Maple Leafs team they may likely end up seeing in the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins lost all three games where Toronto was without Auston Matthews, believe it or not.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I was pushed into [Tuukka]. I don’t know what goaltender interference really is, and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve seen it work in our favor, and I’ve seen it work against us now. There doesn’t seem to be a fine line.” –Charlie McAvoy, who is both convinced Toronto’s game-winner was goalie interference and unsure of exactly how it’s going to be called in the future.

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