BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins might just have a Plan B for this season after all.
After getting off to their worst start in 10 years -- being outscored 10-4 in home losses to Winnipeg and Montreal -- the B's may be starting to develop contingency plans in case things don’t drastically improve in the next few weeks.
According to separate hockey sources, there has been some level of recent trade discussion about veterans Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand with other teams around the league, just to name a few B’s players. The talks haven’t been substantial but more exploratory in nature, as the team quietly gauges the market value of higher-priced veterans who may not fit in the long-term picture if the decision is made to tear down the current roster.
Clearly, it’s not something that will happen tomorrow or even next week. But there’s a sneaking suspicion that Bruins management is formulating a backup plan in case the bottom completely drops out.
The original hope was that the Bruins could compete for a playoff spot with a roster comprised of young players, new faces, and a smattering of holdovers from the 2011 Stanley Cup team. President Cam Neely stressed prior to the season the Bruins would get better as the season moves along and also that the playoffs -- and winning Cups -- was still the ultimate goal.
“We’ve tracked in the past and by Thanksgiving, if you’re in the playoff picture, generally by the end of the year you’re still going to be in the playoff picture," he said then. "This year we have a lot of younger players that I think will develop over the course of the year, and I think the coaching staff’s going to do a really good job in helping these players develop. I think we’ll see the team improve over the course of the season.
"But having said that, we still have enough players that have been around the game long enough and are good NHL players . . . really good NHL players that I think can help bring those guys along at a quicker pace. I feel like we can have a strong start because of that.”
Their start -- partially due to injuries, partially due to poor play -- has been anything but strong; in fact, it's probably been worse than anything Neely or new general manager Don Sweeney feared. The team is attempting to right the ship with Chara (upper body injury), Marchand (concussion) and Dennis Seidenberg (back surgery) on the sidelines, though it's possible Chara will return today against Tampa Bay. Not helping matters is a ragtag defense corps that isn't able to compete against playoff-caliber teams.
The Bruins played exactly one good period in the first two games. And if things truly do go sideways, it would make long-range business sense to make a number of high-priced veterans available on the trade market. Players like Marchand, Chara, David Krejci and Loui Eriksson could bring back useful assets in the form of draft picks, top prospects and building blocks.
There are, of course, no-trade clauses and other road blocks before deals can be made. But it might be that some of those players will be ready to go elsewhere if they see Neely and Sweeney opting for a complete rebuild rather than the roster retooling that was talked about over the summer.