Bruins ship Adam McQuaid to Rangers

Bruins ship Adam McQuaid to Rangers

"It’s conceivable McQuaid could be the odd man out with eight NHL defensemen on the roster."

That's what NBC Sports Boston's Joe Haggerty wrote about Adam McQuaid in his Countdown to Camp series two weeks ago.

That prediction came true Tuesday morning when the Bruins traded McQuaid to the Rangers in exchange for former Bruin defenseman Steven Kampfer and two 2019 draft picks -- a fourth-rounder and a conditional seventh-rounder.

The 31-year-old had only played 38 games last season due to a variety of injuries and healthy scratches, but was one of the toughest Bruin blueliners over the last decade. McQuaid had 462 penalty minutes over his career, the fifth-most among all NHL defensemen during that stretch, despite playing over 100 fewer games than the rest of the top six.

The Black and Gold still have a glut of defensemen vying for playing time this season, with Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Kevan Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and John Moore all signed, plus youngsters looking to make a case for playing time during the preseason.

Bruce Cassidy doesn't commit to keeping David Pastrnak on top line

Bruce Cassidy doesn't commit to keeping David Pastrnak on top line

Head coach Bruce Cassidy and the rest of the Bruins front office and coaching staff have a lot to think about this summer.

After losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins have more questions than answers heading into the offseason. What do you do with David Backes? Can Brad Marchand replicate his 100-point regular season? Sell high on Torey Krug? 

Arguably the most pressing question that arose at various points in the season and into the playoffs: Is the "Perfection Line" worth keeping together? On Monday afternoon, Cassidy addressed whether David Pastrnak's spot next to Marchand and Patrice Bergeron is safe: 

"Yeah, we had a lot of discussions this year about Pasta staying there," Cassidy said. "Going forward, to me it always depends (on) what are the options. Who’s going to go there and make us the best team? At times, Danton Heinen did a good job. I felt at the end of the day, could he sustain it every night? Wasn’t convinced. Not saying he could or couldn’t, but that was my decision to put Pasta back there.

"After that, I don’t know if we tried a whole lot of other guys. At the deadline we had some ideas. Unfortunately, the injury to Johansson, that’s the hand you’re dealt, so he could’ve been a good fit up there too. Going forward, next year I will talk about that. I think, geez, we went back to Anders Bjork we thought at a time would be – so, there could be a younger guy that steps up in camp. For me to say right now that this guy is going to go there, I don’t think you do that. You have to let the player earn it and see what they’ve got.

"So, that’s it, or maybe someone else will surface elsewhere. That’s internal stuff that we’ll have discussions about, but that’s the game plan for next year. They’ve been an excellent line. They want to grow as well. They want to keep getting better, so certainly a possibility they’ll stay together."

By no means did Cassidy shut the door on the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line. However, Pastrnak's poor playoff performance amid some self-described mental battles led some to suggest he should be moved down to David Krejci's second line. 

In the playoffs, Pastrnak finished with nine goals, 19 points and an even plus/minus in 24 games. But in the Stanley Cup Final against St. Louis, Pastrnak was a -7. In total, the Perfection Line scored two goals and had 19 goals against during five-on-five play against the Blues. 

The Bruins shuffled Pastrnak between the first and second lines during both the regular season and their playoff run, so shifting him permanently wouldn't be that extreme of an adjustment. To maximize the Bruins' ceiling, they need to get the most out of Pastrnak, whatever line he plays on. 

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Bruins should make re-signing free agent Marcus Johansson a priority

Bruins should make re-signing free agent Marcus Johansson a priority

The Boston Bruins' trade-deadline acquisition of Marcus Johansson proved to be a very good move by general manager Don Sweeney, and the team would be wise to re-sign the veteran forward before/during NHL free agency.

Johansson, 28, is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He earned $4.75 million last season between the New Jersey Devils and the Bruins -- the final year of his three-year contract . Sweeney and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy held a press conference Monday, and the B's GM praised Johansson's fit with the team while discussing the possibility of re-signing him.

"Well, we met – we had some meetings. I told Marcus that I did have the same, along the same lines, with the RFA side of things that we have some things we need to clarify internally before I can definitively tell him," Sweeney said. "We found that Marcus was a really good fit for our hockey club. I was proud of how he got injured, came back and elevated his play, was really invested, thought he fit in really well with Charlie [Coyle] coming in, gave us some options on the power play, was a really good fit. Good person, great teammate and got us to a certain point. Wish we could’ve finished it off."

The Bruins enter the offseason with about $14 million in salary cap space, per Spotrac, and the first two orders of business should be locking up restricted free agent defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo to long-term contracts. These young d-men, especially McAvoy, are part of the bright future on Boston's blue line.

Johansson definitely needs to be a priority for the Bruins, however. One of the reasons why the B's were able to progress to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final after a disappointing 2018 playoff run was they bolstered their depth with speedy, skilled bottom-six forwards. Johansson was a critical part of that group alongside Charlie Coyle (another pre-deadline acquisition).

Injury prevented Johansson from making much of an impact for the B's in the regular season and he was limited to just 10 games. But he was effective in the Stanley Cup playoffs with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 22 games. The Bruins, according to Natural Stat Trick, had a positive differential in shot attempts, shots on goal, goals scored, scoring chances and high-danger scoring chances during 5-on-5 action in the playoffs when Johansson was on the ice. Johansson also played 2:13 of power-play ice time per game in the playoffs, the fourth-most among B's forwards.

The Bruins shouldn't break the bank to bring back Johansson, but at the right price he absolutely should be re-signed. He's still young, he provides scoring depth and we already have evidence he can be effective with several different linemates in Cassidy's system. Johansson spent a lot of time on the third line in 2018-19, but he also could fill a wing spot next to David Krejci on Boston's second line next season if needed.

Boston must capitalize on its remaining championship window, and that should include re-signing Johansson to help ensure the roster has enough depth to withstand injuries in future playoff runs.

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