Bruins

Bruins poised to make another move on NHL trade deadline day

Bruins poised to make another move on NHL trade deadline day

It wouldn’t shock anybody if the Boston  Bruins’ path to this season's NHL trade deadline looks a lot like last season's.

Last year the Bruins executed a deal for third line center Charlie Coyle a week prior to the deadline to address a long-term roster issue, and then dealt for rental winger Marcus Johansson on deadline day when a number of other trade scenarios fell by the wayside. 

This season, Don Sweeney once again struck early by landing Anaheim right winger Ondrej Kase while freeing up salary cap space by dumping David Backes' contract on the Ducks. With deadline day upon us and all transactions due by 3 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon, the Bruins still need a goal-scorer to provide secondary offense.  

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The Bruins can’t simply hope that teams like the Penguins, Capitals and Lightning will once again lose in the first round of the playoffs as they did last postseason. The sneaking suspicion is that the B’s don’t have enough firepower up and down the lineup to beat the deeper, bigger and stronger groups like those in Washington and Tampa Bay, particularly after those clubs beefed up their rosters by adding Ilya Kovalchuk and Brenden Dillon and Blake Coleman and Zach Bogosian, respectively. 

The Bruins say they are in it to win it and need to show that by adding something substantial to this group ahead of Monday’s deadline, who's going to be a difference-maker.

“I was looking at players that hopefully would fall into that category, that would continue to grow, complement our group,” said Don Sweeney, referencing the Kase deal with Anaheim that went down on Friday afternoon. “Because we’re in it to win, there’s no question we’re in it to win like everybody else. But we don’t know where those opportunities lie and moving forward we’d like a player that you can move forward with.”

The Bruins remain in the running for big-ticket wingers like New York’s Chris Kreider and New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri because those are the two biggest impact players when it comes to a top-6 spot for a contender. But here’s the rub: After dealing their 2020 first round pick to the Ducks in the Kase trade, the Bruins don’t have the ammunition to put up the same kind of trade package as Colorado, St. Louis or other suitors looking to augment their forward group with the big targets. 

Perhaps there is another, more creative way to engineer a deal, but that’s going to be up to Sweeney’s group to find an offer that would undoubtedly need to include a top prospect like Jon Beecher, Urho Vaakanainen or Jack Studnicka, and also potentially include NHL roster considerations like Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork or John Moore. The Bruins general manager has resisted completely raiding his prospect cupboard over the past five years, and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change after already shipping out a first-rounder and Axel Andersson in the Kase trade. 

There is a secondary market for rental players that Boston successfully hit with Johansson last season, and it’s got some intriguing names. Kovalchuk is gone from that list, but there is a big name in B’s history that may wind up available over the next 24 hours: Joe Thornton, who was selected first overall for the B’s all the way back in 1997.

Jumbo Joe has only four goals and 27 points in 61 games this season for the Sharks, but the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Thornton would immediately bring size and an offensive dynamic to the B’s group up front. 

Thornton has only played for the Bruins and the Sharks in his 22-year NHL career, and it would be an amazing story if he were to come full circle landing back with the Bruins for a playoff run this spring. It would be arguably the most comfortable landing spot for Thornton, given that he played five-plus years with Sweeney, spent a couple of seasons with a teenage Patrice Bergeron and has former Bruins teammates like Ray Bourque and Andrew Raycroft who are frequently around the hockey club these days. 

The actual fit on Boston’s roster wouldn’t be a perfect given that Thornton has been a center throughout his career, but how much of an adjustment would it be for either A) Thornton to move to the wing or B) Charlie Coyle or Sean Kuraly moved off the middle to make way for the future Hall of Famer? 

If it’s not Kreider or Palmieri, the bottom line for the Bruins is that any trade isn’t going to be a perfect fit in terms of the player coming back. A player like Brandon Saad would include plenty of contract baggage with a $6 million cap hit for this year and next, and a gritty two-way center like Jean-Gabriel Pageau isn't exactly what the Bruins need on their NHL roster for a possible Cup run. 

There are other possible rental players like Florida’s Mike Hoffman or Detroit’s Andreas Athanasiou who might make a lot of sense, but it all depends on asking price and availability for players that may not entirely move the needle for Boston. 

Instead bigger, stronger wingers like Wayne Simmonds and Josh Anderson would be the exact type of players the Bruins need as top-6 power forwards with offensive pop, even if they are both at ends of the age (Simmonds is over the hill) and career spectrum (Anderson is on the rise, but also having a rough, injured-plagued season with one goal) at this point. 

The bottom line for the Bruins and Sweeney is this: They will be looking to swing another deal on Monday ahead of the deadline to go along with the Kase trade, and there should be no shortage of candidates for the Bruins to choose from as they get closer to deadline time tomorrow afternoon with a group leading the NHL in points right now. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the NHL trade deadline. This Monday at 2:30 p.m., stream the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBoston.com.

Zdeno Chara admits 'it's hard to look at' the NHL stoppage based on Bruins chances

Zdeno Chara admits 'it's hard to look at' the NHL stoppage based on Bruins chances

As the oldest player in the NHL, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara doesn't really know when his last chance to win another Stanley Cup will come.

It might have been last season when the 43-year-old Chara led the B’s to within a Game 7 of winning a Stanley Cup against the St. Louis Blues only to brutally come up just short. Then again, it looked like Chara and the Bruins had another solid chance this year while leading the entire NHL with 100 points with roughly a month left to go in the regular season.

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Then, things were put on pause due to a coronavirus outbreak that has brought the entire world to a standstill.

For aging players like Chara, 34-year-old Patrice Bergeron, 33-year-old David Krejci and 33-year-old Tuukka Rask, this season might be their last, best chance to win another Stanley Cup before the championship window perhaps begins to close on the Black and Gold.

Chara was asked how much that was on his mind as he sits in his Florida home with his wife and children while waiting out the coronavirus outbreak with no real knowledge as to when, or if, hockey will be back around the NHL this season.

Clearly his mind is on the seriousness of the situation, as the priority is on getting people through the next few weeks when the outbreak could be at its most intense in the US. But Chara also said the unknown of it all with this season is more than a little disconcerting.

“It is obviously one of those situations that you can’t really control. Right now we all have to look after each other and look after our families,” said Chara, on a Zoom webinar conference call with reporters organized by the NHL on Monday afternoon. “I know it’s kind of a cliché answer in these days, but hockey is really secondary. If you have to look at it that way then, yeah, it’s kind of hard to look at the pause on the league at the stage where we were at.

“With only a few games until the playoffs and so close to the playoffs with the team playing well and with confidence, we were obviously in a good place. But who knows? We can’t always wish for the perfect situation. These types of situations do happen once in a while. Hopefully we play again and we’ll see when that’s going to be.”

With places like California, New York City and Florida getting hit hardest by the coronavirus right now, even a conference call with hockey players was about thanking medical personnel, first responders and other people stepping into the breach right now.

“These are strange times. There are challenges we’re all facing right now. Most of us are away from the things we love to do. The things we don’t have to work, to play and to entertain people. Hopefully we get through this. A huge, big thank you has to go to the medical professionals, the people that are volunteering and the people that are delivering food,” said Chara. “It just takes time. We have to stay patient, and safe, and disciplined. There is no other way to do it, but to do it together.”

The words are inspiring for the longest-running captain in the NHL and one of the best leaders of his generation in all of pro sports. Hopefully, Chara and the Bruins get that chance to see good they can be in the playoffs over the next four months with an NHL that’s going to do everything they can to make sure there is a postseason conclusion to a 2019-20 regular season that had been almost entirely played out.

Bruins' Zdeno Chara spills the tea on Tuukka Rask's 'awful' farting issue

Bruins' Zdeno Chara spills the tea on Tuukka Rask's 'awful' farting issue

Zdeno Chara was probably not the Vegas favorite to give the funniest and most entertaining answer of an Atlantic Division Zoom conference call with NHL reporters, but that’s exactly what happened on Monday afternoon.

Chara, Dylan Larkin, John Tavares and Brady Tkachuk answered questions online for 30-plus minutes and the Bruins captain saved his best material when asked which teammate he’d least like to be quarantined with.

His choice was Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and the reasons behind it were pungently amazing.

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Apparently, Rask has an issue in the fart department and it’s chronic enough that his longtime Bruins teammate would not want to be anywhere near him for the stinky aftermath of his beloved chicken wings.

“I have to say Tuukka Rask. The way he farts? The smell is awful,” said Chara. “He likes his chicken wings. And after the chicken wings I’ve had to sit behind him on the bus. I’ve got to tell you. I’ve got to control myself sometimes.” 

How this farting issue remained a well-kept secret within the Bruins locker room over the years is nothing short of amazing. 

Rask has been a regular at Buff’s Pub in Newton over the years while living in the suburban city, so none of this should be surprising information when it comes to Boston’s No. 1 goaltender.

On the other end of the spectrum, Chara singled out Charlie Coyle and Kevan Miller as teammates he enjoys spending time with and guys he wouldn’t mind being quarantined with if he had his choice.

On a more serious note, Chara, who mentioned during the call that he drove to Florida a couple of weeks ago with his family to live in their gated community property, mentioned several times that hockey is secondary right now while the entire world is going through the “strange times” of a global coronavirus outbreak, and thanked the medical personnel, first responders and food delivery people who continue to do their duty under very dangerous, trying conditions.