BRIGHTON, Mass – With weeks to go until the NHL trade deadline, there are still many different possibilities as to how things could go down for the Boston Bruins.
They are comfortably in a wild card playoff spot and have already battled through adversity in the first half of the season, so a 4-2-4 record in the last 10 games shouldn’t do a lot to shake the notion they are still pointed toward the postseason. They also have pretty clear needs as the Bruins have been filtering through winger options on David Krejci’s line all season, and endured a whole lot of inconsistency on the third line as well. The Bruins could certainly use a boost to their 5-on-5 offense from their forward group, and that means players like Wayne Simmonds, Artemi Panarin, Michael Ferland, Kevin Hayes and Tyler Toffoli are all in the discussion as potential trade targets for the Black and Gold.
But the Bruins won’t be alone in their pursuit of forward help over the next few weeks and have a real hesitancy to give up top assets for a rental player after sending a first round pick and D-man prospect Ryan Lindgren, among others, for Rick Nash last season. So perhaps it’s conceivable that the Bruins don’t make a major move at the trade deadline with a Bruins team that roster strength-wise appears to be well behind Tampa Bay and Toronto at the moment.
Interestingly enough, Bruins players in the dressing room say that the trade deadline hasn’t really been a major conversation point for them as it had been the last few years.
“I think in the past it’s kind of been an unspoken for us that things were needed to help our team and we were in a position to win. People had made it known that they were going to make deals to help us out and whatnot,” said Torey Krug. “This year for whatever reason it hasn’t even been talked about in the locker room. People will always say they’re trying to ignore the noise but it’s impossible to do because it’s out there. They’re lying if they say they’re doing that unless they’re a Bergeron or somebody like that because he never lies.
“I think it’s combination of guys focusing on working on improving their games because we know we have to the ability to win and move on. But we’re still trying to perfect our [collective] game right now. We have a similar group as last year when we were a couple of big plays away from being in the conference finals, and you never know what happens from there. They did a good job and they won 4-1 while being dominant at times against us, but if we win Game 4 and go down to Tampa 2-2 then you never know what happens. We know we have the ability, so we’re confident in our team no matter what happens [at the trade deadline].”
Perhaps they’re not worried about any major deals coming down, or perhaps they just don’t realize that the trade deadline is coming up quickly at the end of February. Either way, the Bruins have to at least face a possible reality that nothing significant is going to be under the B’s Christmas tree at the trade deadline.
Maybe it will actually happen and maybe it won’t, but the Bruins are prepared to move ahead either way with a team that’s in playoff position. It’s at least partially why Bruce Cassidy is now splitting up the Perfection Line and getting a look at a second line of Peter Cehlarik, David Krejci and David Pastrnak, and seeing if that’s enough to give the Bruins the offensive diversity that they’ve been seeking since last spring.
“We do go over it as an organization. Donnie [Sweeney], the coaches and whoever he wants to include. So there’s a discussion on players that could be available, and we talk about our lineup and what’s the biggest pressing need. Using last year as an example we knew that we could use a winger for [David Krejci],” said Cassidy. “We went out and got it. That becomes [the general manager’s] call. How do I approach it as a coach?
“I don’t talk to the players about the trade deadline and what’s going on. We just try to deal every day with the lineup we have, how we can make it better and move the pieces around. I try to just stay in the moment. Of course when I go home tonight I’ll be wondering ‘I wonder if we’re going to trade for Panarin tonight.’ But that’s it and it’s gone and then I’m cooking burgers at home. I don’t concern myself with it a lot. I think Donnie is making calls, but whether if anything happens or not I don’t know.”
Cassidy was kidding about Panarin, of course, but it also perhaps lets everybody know that he’s as interested as anybody else in adding some offense to the Bruins attack. The reality, however, is that game-breaking players don’t come cheap and there’s a legitimate question as to whether the Bruins are going to be willing to pay that kind of ransom for a rental player.
They are prepared for either reality on the other side of the deadline, but the hard truth for the B’s is that it’s going to take a few roster upgrades to vault them toward top as legit contenders in the Eastern Conference. It remains to be seen if it’s too much to get done in a competitive trade market with plenty of interested buyers other than Boston.
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