Bruins should be bold, make a run at Blues' Tarasenko

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Bruins should be bold, make a run at Blues' Tarasenko

PITTSBURGH – The Bruins are scraping and scrapping for everything they’re getting right now and almost pulled out points in Pittsburgh despite being down by two goals in the third period.

Alas, the undermanned B’s ended up falling to the Penguins 5-3 on a lost David Krejci face-off in the defensive zone that turned into a Ryan Geuntzel tip past Jaroslav Halak for the game-winner. Halak wasn’t great in the loss and opted not to speak to the media following his third defeat in his past four games while Tuukka Rask is claiming more of the playing time back from him. 

Charlie McAvoy probably had his worst game since returning from the concussion and was part of a defensive breakdown in the first that led to a goal as well as giving up a back-breaking shorthanded goal at the end of the second period.

The Bruins best line all night was their fourth, which accounted for two goals and was led by Chris Wagner’s eye-popping nine shots on net. Heck, even Brandon Carlo scored a goal and that hasn’t happened at all in the past two seasons.t

So, there were some good things to like, and pick apart, in the B’s loss to the Penguins.

“It sucks right now, but I think there was definitely some good we can take from this game being down 3-1 and making it 3-3,” said McAvoy, who finished a minus-1 in 23-plus minutes of uneven performance. “It’s something in here we can be happy about even if we didn’t get the win or at least a point. But we battled and we never say die. That’s a great trait to have as a team.”

Unfortunately, it’s also again becoming clear that, even with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara back healthy at some point, the Bruins need another dynamic offensive player. It doesn’t appear that any of their young guys are going to be up to that task for the Black and Gold and the Bruins clearly know it, given the Charlie Coyle rumors.

But they shouldn’t settle for the BAMP (Best Available Massachusetts Player) in Coyle when Vladimir Tarasenko and Artemi Panarin are out there. As soon as the struggling St. Louis Blues indicate that everything is on the table from a trade perspective and “Vladdy is available” that should be like a Bat Signal for the Bruins to do everything they can to get Tarasenko.

He’s at the prime of his career at 27, has topped 30 goals each of the past four seasons while surpassing 70 points in three of the past four years with the Blues. His numbers are down this season, of course, and it feels like the marriage between the Blues and their Russian sniper might be coming to an end.

Can you imagine a top-six of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak and DeBrusk-Krejci-Tarasenko come playoff time? That’s the kind of forward setup that might just allow the B's to even compete with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who look like they're going to repeat last season’s short playoff series unless the Bruins do something significant.

Of course, Jake DeBrusk might be one of the key pieces involved in getting Tarasenko to the Bruins. One would imagine it would take DeBrusk and perhaps Torey Krug along with the appropriate treasure trove of draft picks and prospects. Who knows? Maybe the Blues are really looking to strike it rich and would want both DeBrusk and McAvoy in exchange for their biggest superstar, who is under contract for another four years after this current one at $7.5 million per season.

That’s if Tarasenko is even traded at all, and if somehow the Bruins were to bring forward the best package of assets above the bevy of NHL teams that would clearly be suitors. It all feels far-fetched and like something that would happen in the offseason ahead of Tarasenko’s no-trade clause kicking in, if it were to happen at all.

But it feels like this good-but-not-great Bruins team is going to need something special in the upgrade department if they’re truly going to compete for a Cup this season. The 27th rank in the NHL in goal production isn’t going to cut it against the best of the East and screams for another offensive force.

They tried to be bold last summer with the pursuit of John Tavares that ultimately didn’t work out and Don Sweeney and the B’s should be bold again now if Tarasenko is on the table in any way, shape or form.

Last night in Pittsburgh was another piece of evidence that they need another game-breaker to pair with Krejci and allow him to be the energized playmaker that he’s been (three goals and seven points in five games) since he began centering Marchand and Pastrnak.

Tarasenko, a bona-fide sniper, would be that guy and then some.

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NHL Highlights: Torey Krug ties it to finish comeback but Bruins fall in OT

NHL Highlights: Torey Krug ties it to finish comeback but Bruins fall in OT

FINAL SCORE: Blackhawks 4, Bruins 3

IN BRIEF: The Bruins mounted a furious three-goal comeback in the third period to take the Blackhawks to overtime. Torey Krug notched the game-tying goal shortly after Chris Wagner cut the Blackhawks lead to one. The Blackhawks would win shortly into overtime, but the Bruins salvaged a point from the game and ensured their home point streak would stay alive.


BRUINS RECORD: 20-3-6 (46 points)









Vs. Colorado Avalanche, Saturday, 7 p.m., NESN

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Why Bruins shouldn't pursue trade for Devils star Taylor Hall

Why Bruins shouldn't pursue trade for Devils star Taylor Hall

The Bruins have not consistently been massive players at the NHL trade deadline over their recent history, but they haven’t exactly been gun-shy either under general manager Don Sweeney. 

A couple of years ago, the Bruins tracked down one of the biggest deadline targets when they used a first-round pick and prospects to land Rick Nash in a move that ultimately didn’t work out. Last season, they bagged Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson in a pair of moves that helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final, and led to them signing Coyle to a six-year extension just a couple of weeks ago. 

Clearly Sweeney isn’t shy when his team has needs, even if he is absolutely reticent to trade first-round picks or top prospects unless it’s the kind of asset that fits into Boston’s long-term planning. 

So how does that play into this season’s top trade deadline target in New Jersey Devils winger and former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall? 

Undoubtedly the Bruins could use a player of Hall’s caliber as the big, skilled winger that David Krejci has been looking for on his line for the last couple of seasons. It would force the Bruins to rearrange things a little bit, of course, whether it's shifting Jake DeBrusk down to the third line, or requiring one of Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen or DeBrusk to play on the right side rather than the left. 

But those are minor adjustments when it comes to a 28-year-old who's just a couple of years removed from 39 goals and 93 points on his way to the NHL’s MVP Award, and a player who could immediately give the Bruins two extremely dangerous offensive lines while handing Krejci the kind of experienced top goal-scorer he has been without since the days of Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Jarome Iginla, and even Loui Eriksson. 

The issues are two-fold with Hall, as they are with any number of big ticket items available at the deadline. The first issue would be the prohibitive cost for a player who's a former No. 1 overall pick and a Hart Trophy winner as well. The Devils would be seeking something along the lines of the Ottawa haul for Mark Stone (forward and D-man prospects along with a high draft pick).  

New Jersey is looking for first-round picks and top prospects with an eye toward defensemen after drafting Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier with high first-round picks in the last couple of years. The cost for the Bruins would be interesting given their organizational assets, and one has to wonder if young NHL roster players like Brandon Carlo, Bjork or DeBrusk would be in the crosshairs for the Devils organization. 

Would the Bruins be willing to give up a first-round pick, 2017 first-round pick Urho Vaakanainen and Anders Bjork in exchange for Hall? How about if it was Carlo and a second-round pick along with Jack Studnicka for a player in Hall who isn’t guaranteed to be sticking around in Boston after this season? Or DeBrusk, Vaakanainen and a second-round pick with it conditionally turning into a first-rounder if the Bruins can re-sign Hall following the conclusion of this current season? 

If the Bruins weren’t given assurances that Hall was willing to stay with Boston ahead of acquiring him, it would be a steep price to pay for a player who would be tasting unrestricted free agency for the first time in his NHL career while still in his prime. 

That brings up one of the other issues: the cost in salary cap damage. 

Hall is in the last year of a contract that pays him $6 million per season, but is due for a substantial raise based on his Hart Trophy season. How much of a raise will depend on how the rest of the current season goes for a player who has four goals and 22 points in 27 games thus far. Hall is on pace for just 12 goals and 67 points, and numbers like those coming off 11 goals and 37 points last season aren’t screaming out max contract to many NHL teams. 

Still, they would likely have to pay him at least as much as their highest paid player (David Krejci at $7.25 million if not more) given his body of work, his age and the amount of demand there will be for him around the NHL if he hits free agency. Given that the Bruins have Torey Krug, DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Zdeno Chara and Jaroslav Halak among others up for contracts following this season, it sure doesn’t feel like the right time for the Bruins to add another massive piece to their group, despite the desperate need for a top-6 sniper. 

These past two seasons should also be a warning sign to potentially interested teams like the Bruins that Hall is on the downslide of his career as he approaches 30 years old, and that his 2017-18 Hart Trophy season might be as good as it gets for a player who never consistently lived up to the hype. 

For all those reasons, it’s the right call for the Bruins to take a pass on Hall with teams like the Canadiens, Canucks, Avalanche and others in even better position to surrender the moon in order to bring on New Jersey’s slumping star.

Sometimes it’s about being the right fit, at the right time for the right price for an NHL team in big-time trades — and none of those things seem to be aligned for the Bruins and Hall. 

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