The Bruins' interest in 26-year-old Charlie Coyle hasn’t been a secret this season, and the cost really wasn’t either.
The Wild traded the Weymouth native to the Bruins on Wednesday afternoon for a conditional fifth-round draft pick in 2019 and Ryan Donato. The pick turns into a fourth-round selection if the Bruins advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.
Certainly the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Coyle is an upgrade at the third line center position after the Bruins have tried a rotating carousel of young players including Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Trent Frederic and Colby Cave among others, and he’s versatile enough to get a top-6 shot with David Krejci as well.
If Coyle was brought in to finally bring some stability and offensive pop to the third line, then Donato and a fifth-round pick makes sense as the price for a player that’s signed on for next season at $3.25 million. That gives both JFK and Frederic more time to develop at the AHL level as it was clear that both players weren’t quite ready for prime time this season despite all the hopes and prayers of the B’s development people.
First the good: The versatile Coyle can play both center and wing, has good size, is a hockey product out of Weymouth, and he played at Boston University before joining up with the Wild. Coyle checks a lot of the boxes that the Bruins seem to require for the players around the league that they’re interested in.
At his core, Coyle is a pretty solid NHL player and a good NHL veteran that’s better than what the B’s currently have on their roster.
He’s posted 82 goals and 228 points in 449 games after being a first-round pick in the 2010 draft, and brings 6-foot-3, 218-pound size along with top-9 skill to the table while still being smack dab in the middle of his prime at 26 years old. Coyle is clearly a useful player and bringing him into the Bruins fold would instantly make them a better team if he were to slide over to third line center,
But we’re also talking about a player that’s topped 20 goals only once in his five full seasons, and only has gone over 40 points twice (and only over 50 points once) in those five years with the Wild. He’s a better third line center than JFK or Frederic right now, but would it be better for the Bruins in the long run to get either JFK or Trent Frederic real NHL experience down the stretch rather than hand things over to a veteran with a ceiling of about 15 goals and 40 points?
Similarly, it doesn’t feel like Coyle would be a guy that’s going to work as a goal-scoring winger on the second line with David Krejci. He has the kind of size the Bruins are looking for, of course, but Jake DeBrusk is more of an impact player than Coyle in only his second NHL season. He’s an upgrade over some of the young players currently on the roster, but how much more is really up for debate at this point.
Clearly the Bruins pinpointed the third line as something that desperately needed improving, and needed much more of an offensive upgrade after they played a big role in the B’s struggling at 5-on-5 offense to this point. So the trade for Coyle addresses that and clearly makes the Bruins better both now and for next season.
But if acquiring Coyle is the big move that the Bruins make ahead of the NHL trade deadline, it’s not going to be a game-changer for a team that clearly needs more offense to compete with teams like Toronto and Tampa Bay within their own division. There is still a need for a top-6 winger as Coyle is more of a third line guy on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations like the Boston Bruins.
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