The Boston Bruins are in the middle of a COVID-19 pause in their schedule because four of their players are in the NHL's health and safety protocols.
Boston's games Saturday and Tuesday were postponed, and the B's are scheduled to return to game action Thursday against the first-place New York Islanders at TD Garden.
The Bruins would obviously prefer not to have players in the league's health and safety protocols, but this break could actually benefit the team in the short term because it gives the players a much-needed rest amid a condensed schedule and allows those with injuries -- including defenseman Jeremy Lauzon -- to continue rehabbing without missing a couple games.
How might this COVID pause impact the Bruins' approach to the April 12 trade deadline? B's general manager Don Sweeney was asked about it Monday.
"We’re meeting as groups to decide based on our discussions with other teams and ultimately, as I’ve said before, the health of our group and how well we’re playing will sometimes determine it, as well as the availability of players you might like to add," Sweeney said. "There’s all sorts of variables associated with it, and I can’t tell you whether or not we’re going to make a move in any direction because as I’ve said before, we’d like to.
"But a little bit of the health for our hockey club may dictate that. We’re facing more compressed schedules through the next 28 games, and it’s going to be against a war of attrition. In the playoffs you have a war of attrition, but I think the balance of the schedules is going to represent some of those challenges. And some players are getting an opportunity — we’re testing depth, we’ve played twelve defensemen over the course of 28 games. And obviously several forwards are getting an opportunity.
"We’d like to be healthy and fully evaluate, but that might not be possible as well. It is a factor of what we’re trying to do and what we’d like to do. But I think all teams are dealing with it.”
If the Bruins are waiting to see what their roster looks like when its fully healthy, that opportunity might not come before the trade deadline. Lauzon, defenseman Kevan Miller and winger Ondrej Kase all are out of the lineup, and there's no set date for when any of them will return. Lauzon was expected to be re-evaluated after four weeks, and that time is coming up soon.
Even if the Bruins were fully healthy before the trade deadline, they still need to be aggressive in adding to this flawed roster.
A top-six forward who can consistently score goals should be the priority for the B's as the deadline approaches. Boston ranks 30th in 5-on-5 goals scored -- only the last-place Buffalo Sabres are lower. A top-four defenseman with playoff experience is another serious need for the Bruins given their inexperience on the blue line.
Sweeney has some time to find the right deal for the Bruins. Standing pat should not be an option for the B's with their veteran core likely having just one more legitimate chance (this season) to compete for a Stanley Cup title.