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Hagg Bag: Dissecting Bruins trade rumors

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Hagg Bag: Dissecting Bruins trade rumors

You’ve got to appreciate that the Bruins are hanging in there and sticking around the playoff picture even though it’s been weeks since either Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara have played a game. Much like last season, the Bruins are showing character, backbone and surprising mettle in the face of an obscene amount of injuries and look like they’re going to be in the postseason picture for good.

So all is good and people are happy with the scrappy Bruins team that they see right now, right? Right? Well, that’s pretty much never the case when we crack open the Hagg Bag mailbag, and surely that won’t be the case again this week.

Sure there are some fans satisfied by the heart being shown by a team that looks as much like Providence Bruins as the Boston Bruins. But there are also plenty of questions about where this is all headed this season.

As always, these are real questions to my Twitter account using the #HaggBag hashtag, messages to NBCS Facebook fan page and emails to my JHaggerty@nbcuni.com email account. Now on to the bag:

Hi Joe!

First, happy and safe holiday greetings to all! 
Keeping my B’s ‘holiday wish list’ short..... team HEALTH, and a ‘Big forward or two with ‘jam’ in the mold of team President & former PF Cam Neely! Would be happy for today’s version of Wilson (Caps), Anderson (CBJ), Ritchie (Ducks), Tkachuk (Calgary), Ferland (Carolina), or Tuch (Vegas)...... youth, size, scoring & skating ability with a little ‘jam’ to their game!
Mr. Sweeney....again, that’s ‘BIG & JAM’!! 

Ron
Saitama, Japan 

JH: Happy and safe holidays to you, Ron, and to everybody out there in Bruins Nation. I couldn’t agree with you more on that point. Most of those names on your list aren’t going anywhere unfortunately, and it really comes down to the Bruins finding somebody short term while making a big, mean power forward more of a priority during NHL draft weekend.

They’ve gone away from those kinds of players with their high round picks in recent years, and it might be time to use a first or second rounder on a big boy forward with some offensive upside. It’s been nice to see David Backes enjoy a little bit of resurgence in recent weeks while finally getting fully healthy for the first time all season. He plays big and strong in front of the net on the power play, and he’s starting to throw his body around a little more now that he’s logged some third and fourth line duty.

But they really need a younger top-6 guy that plays with jam and scores goals. I’ve been pretty insistent that Wayne Simmonds might be the best option when push comes to shove at the trade deadline, and he could be the answer short term if the Bruins are in a position to go for it.

But I’d rather have the Bruins draft and develop their next Milan Lucic rather than trade or overpay for an older power forward that’s on the down slope of his career. Bottom line for me: They get pushed around too much these days and need a good player up front willing to protect the other skill guys, and play the intimidation game.

 

I think it is apparent the Bruins cannot trade Krug considering the offense he provides. What defenceman do the Bruins likely trade for some secondary scoring?

--Robert McNeil (@bostonbruins941)’

JH: I don’t know if it’s going to automatically be a defenseman now that they traded Adam McQuaid prior to training camp. Just look at the first few months of the season. They’ve needed all the depth that they have, and probably could have used even more. I think it makes more sense for the Bruins to trade some of their surplus of young wingers up front to perhaps take on an older, more expensive player that can help them right now.

Since last season I’ve been in favor of dealing Anders Bjork as that guy because I’m not sure he really fits in with the Bruins big picture. It’s tough to do that, however, when he’s got one goal in 19 games and is probably trending toward a trip to AHL Providence rather than building up any trade asset value to another NHL team. Maybe the Bruins will have to part with Ryan Donato or with Danton Heinen instead, and give up something they might covet a little bit more in order to make it happen.

No matter what they do they’re going to have to give up to get, and that’s been something Don Sweeney has been reluctant to do when it comes to any of his prospects.

 

Haggs,

It's nice to see the Bruins finally realize something that I've known for a couple of years...Matt Grzelcyk is better than Torey Krug. No he's not going to give you the offense that Krug does, but with all the injuries the Bruins have endured, who was put on the top defensive pair...Matt Grzelcyk. I know the NHL has become obsessed with offensive defenseman but I still think the first responsibility of a defenseman is to play defense and Grzelcyk is so much better than Krug in his own end...and he does it for a fraction of the cost.

Torey Krug this season btw, 11 games, 0 goals, -1. Once everyone gets healthy, Bruins need to trade him before the league realizes just how bad he is defensively.

Marc

Malden, MA 

JH: Let’s update that to zero goals and 10 assists in 13 games for Krug. A minus-1 rating for a guy playing 22 plus minutes that’s “bad defensively” is really actually pretty good. He’s never going to be a stalwart penalty killer and he’s going to struggle when he’s stuck in his own end, but he’s also been one of the best offensive D-men in the league over the last three seasons. I mean, he’s up there with the big boys and Norris Trophy candidates when it comes to production. He was also coming back from an injury this season, so that played into another slow start for a player in Krug that always starts slow.

My point is the upside most definitely outweighs the downside with him. If I’m trading Krug it’s not because I think Matt Grzelcyk is better than him. I’m doing it because he’s got significant value on the trade market and he could bring you back a very good forward that’s going to make the Bruins deeper, and more dangerous offensively.

It may still happen and most would be in favor of it if the return was a young winger with high-end scoring potential that the Bruins would have under their control long term. But I’m not anxious to deal Krug if I’m the Bruins given how important offense and the power play is to the overall success of this team right now. Krug is a huge part of that, slow start or no slow start.   

 

#HaggBag does Michael Ryder have the best snap shot evah for the Bs?

--Ryan Morrissey (@morrissey_rymo)

JH: Yes, and it was wicked pissah.

 

Why are the Bruins paying David Krejci 7.2 M?

--Frank Dupuis (@frankdupuis140)

JH: Well, you see there’s this thing called a contract. And the Bruins and David Krejci agreed on one that made him the highest paid forward on the team. To be fair to him, it’s not Krejci’s fault then Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli felt pressured into giving him that kind of money. And Krejci also has 19 points in 24 points this season, which puts him on a pace for 65 for the season. That would be a pretty good year for him and better than his last few seasons. He just needs to up the goal-scoring pace a little bit, but I actually Krejci hasn’t been all that bad this year. It’s more about players like Danton Heinen that haven’t finished off the chances he’s set them up for. That’s not Krejci’s fault. He’s overpaid and it’s not a good contract, but Krejci is far from Boston’s biggest problem on the roster.   

 

Been hearing a lot about St. Louis looking for a shakeup, with Vladimir Tarasenko’s name being tossed around. What would it take to get him in a Bruins uniform? Love his game. Thanks.

--Captain Steve (@chamaaglia)

JH: Probably David Pastrnak to start with and then more to close the deal. I’ll take a hard pass on that one. The Bruins can’t afford to shell out the assets and bucks that would land a player of Tarasenko’s caliber, and I’d also exercise caution if the Blues start actively shopping him. There’s got to be a reason why that’s happening. That are more affordable options out there for Boston on the wing that would make them a better team. I’ve heard Charlie Coyle’s name tossed about a little bit in Minnesota in association with the Bruins, but I don’t think he’s the answer. Is he the best available Massachusetts-born player on the trade market? Maybe. But that doesn’t make him a good fit. He’s a good-sized kid, but he’s only topped 20 goals once and 40 points twice in five full NHL seasons. The Bruins already have young players capable of that kind of production. I’d be shooting for a better player, all due respect.  

 

What Hall and Oates song would you use as the Bruins goal song? Would you go crazy and assign a different song for the situation (5on5, PP, shorty, Penalty Shot etc.)?

--Rad Marchand (@radmarchand)

JH: I’m not going to lie. Using “You Make My Dreams Come True” as a goal song in Toronto is a stroke of genius for the Maple Leafs. I loved hearing it last night on multiple occasions. I think I’d go “Private Eyes” for the Bruins as a goal-scoring song, but I’m not sure I could stretch out the Hall & Oates library for every hockey situation. You could go “Adult Education” for penalties. But once you start getting into “Maneater” and “Kiss is on My List” you’re starting to stretch things a little bit. Now, if it was just 80’s themed music for all situations at TD Garden, I’m sure you and I could come up with something creative, Rad. Maybe “She Blinded Me with Science” for video reviews and “I’ve Got the Power” for power plays, of course. The possibilities are endless.

 

What Bruin legend do you think would fit best in the current roster?

--Tyler (@tylerbrewsbeer)

JH: You think I’m going to say it just because the Bruins are retiring his number later this week, but I think it’s Rick Middleton. What a player Nifty was. He had speed, he had great hands and puck skills and he could play in all situations special teams and five-on-five. He wasn’t the biggest guy in the world and he certainly wasn’t an overly physical player either, so I think today’s NHL would have made him even more dominant than he was in his era when he finished with 988 points in 1,005 NHL games. From about 1979-1984 he was just so prolific and productive. He should already be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and hopefully getting his number retired starts the ball rolling on that happening for Nifty up in Toronto. 

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Zdeno Chara 'grateful for the opportunity' to play, not focused on NHL playoff format fairness

Zdeno Chara 'grateful for the opportunity' to play, not focused on NHL playoff format fairness

In the aftermath of this week’s NHL announcement about the 24-team playoff format, there has been plenty of talk about fairness, asterisks and whether this plan will even come to fruition this summer as NHL players begin working to get back into playing shape.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara could have complained about the Presidents' Trophy-winning Bruins being forced into protecting their top seed during a round-robin tournament despite pretty much winning it fair and square during the regular season with a month left.

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Chara could have openly wondered about the safeness of an NHL return or talked extensively about whether the Cup champs will be considered regular champions despite so many oddities with this year’s proposed postseason.

Instead, the wise 43-year-old Chara simply showed gratitude that the NHL players might be able to get back to work, and perhaps in doing so can restore some sense of quasi-normalcy to sports fans eager to see games resume.

“The Players' Association with the player reps worked extremely hard to get to this point and come up with something that will be hopefully entertaining and exciting. I think the fans will enjoy it for sure. It’s never a perfect scenario. It’s not going to be set in stone like it would be after an 82-game regular season,” said Chara while speaking with B’s reporters on Zoom call on Thursday morning.

“It’s not going to be perfect. Anytime you’re going to have an unexpected kind of stoppage with teams at different peaks in their season, you had to come up with some sort of solution. What we see is probably the best [solution]. It’s one of those things where you can’t blame anyone or feel that it’s unfair.

For us, we have to be grateful for the opportunity we’re getting. When you look at the real-life perspective at what other people’s families and businesses are going through, we’re getting the chance to basically start back up where we ended the season. A lot of people aren’t getting that same chance. A lot of people lost financial support and businesses went down, and they will never get the same opportunities. We have to be grateful for the opportunity and take it as a huge motivation [and] excitement. [We need] to be grateful and embrace it.

As with most players focused on winning, Chara knows the Bruins will need to overcome all obstacles if they hope to lift the Stanley Cup, and a newfangled playoff format that was a little unfair to them is nothing compared to what’s happening in the world.

Chara is going to be a slam dunk Hall of Fame defenseman when he eventually retires from the Bruins even if that’s probably at least a couple of seasons from now.

But the 6-foot-9 D-man also showed in his answer why he’s a Hall of Fame person with the way he’s still got everything in proper perspective even as fans get a little excited about progress being made toward a return for the NHL season.

NHL announces Bruins have won these three end-of-season awards

NHL announces Bruins have won these three end-of-season awards

The NHL announced on Tuesday the 2019-20 regular season was finished, and as a result, it became time to announce the winners of some end-of-the-year awards.

Some of the awards, including the Hart Trophy for the league's most valuable player, still need to be voted on. Most of them are voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The awards based on stats, however, already have been determined.

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Three of the awards already determined will go to the Boston Bruins. The league officially announced all such awards with a press release Thursday.

Here's a quick recap of the awards won by the Bruins.

Presidents' Trophy
The team that finishes the regular season with the best record wins this award. This is the third time Boston has won the Presidents' Trophy since it was introduced ahead of the 1985-86 season. The B's also have won it in 1990 and 2014. The team that's won this trophy usually fails to win the Stanley Cup. In fact, only nine of the previous 33 Presidents' Trophy winners went on to win the Stanley Cup that same year. However, the last time it  happened was in 2013 when the Chicago Blackhawks won both in a shortened season, so maybe there's hope for the Bruins in 2020!

William M. Jennings Trophy
The Bruins had the best goalie duo in the league with starter Tuukka Rask and backup Jaroslav Halak. Boston finished the season allowing the fewest goals allowed, which means the team's goaltenders have won the William M. Jennings Trophy. Rask led the league with a 2.12 goals against average and 85 goals allowed in 41 appearances, and Halak ranked sixth with a 2.39 GAA and 73 goals allowed in 31 games played. This is the third time (1989-90 and 2008-09 previously) the Bruins have won this award since it was introduced in 1981-82. Rask has won the award for the first time, while Halak now has claimed it twice. Halak shared it with Brian Elliott when they played for the St. Louis Blues durng the 2011-12 campaign.

Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy
The league's leading goal scorer(s) win the award named after Montreal Canadiens legend Maurice Richard. Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin both scored 48 goals and will share the trophy. Pastrnak is the first B's player to lead the league in goals since Phil Esposito, who did it in six straight seasons from 1969-70 through 1974-75. Pastrnak fell just shy of becoming Boston's first 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely in 1993-94, but he should have plenty more chances to hit that milestone in the near future. 

Other awards?
It's quite possible the Bruins could take home other end-of-the-season awards. Pastrnak has a case to be a finalist for the Hart Trophy, but it's hard to envision him winning the award over Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon or Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron should be a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which he's already won four times. Rask also is the favorite to win the second Vezina Trophy of his career.

Of course, the real prize for the Bruins is the Stanley Cup. They came so close to winning it last year, and after another dominant regular season, the Bruins are among the favorites to hoist the best trophy in sports later in 2020.