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 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’!! 

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.



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.


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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Hagg Bag: Bye week edition means plenty of trade scenarios to consider

Hagg Bag: Bye week edition means plenty of trade scenarios to consider

The bye week is here for the Bruins and that means the players are scattered to the four corners of the Earth for warm weather, umbrella cocktails and some kind of beach setup. So, the Bruins are locked in third place in the Atlantic Division until next week and they’ve done well to stay in playoff position to this point.

Still, discouraging losses to Montreal, Philly and the New York Rangers leave concern about the direction of the team and reveal some flaws coming up to the surface after they were able to ride their top line, power play and strong goaltending for the first four months of the season. With the trade deadline a little more than a month away, the rumors are rampant and the Bruins should be right in the middle of all of it.

Here are some of those scenarios, rumors and good, old-fashioned questions about what the Bruins will do. As always, these are real questions from real readers that sent tweets to my Twitter account using the #HaggBag hashtag, messages to my NBCS Facebook account and emails to my email account. Now on to the bag:

Ok your opinion on the Bruins at the trade deadline, could they be sellers?

--Eugene Mannarino (@steelmann58)

JH: In my opinion, they won’t be. And I think that’s going to be the opinion of Cam Neely, Don Sweeney and ownership. They’re in third place in the Atlantic and really in no danger of falling out of the playoff picture with Buffalo starting to come back to reality a little bit. There is a window to compete for Cups with Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand not getting any younger.

Now, do they have the team to make a run at the Cup as currently constituted? It’s extremely difficult to see them beating Tampa Bay in a playoff series and they would likely fall short in the same fashion that they did last season against the Lightning. Still, it’s also reasonable to see them at least winning a round in the playoffs before they get to that point. That could change based on whatever kind of move Sweeney makes at the deadline.

Realistically, it would need to be a big, substantial move to get the Bruins closer to Tampa Bay in terms of talent, depth etc. but things can also happen whether injuries, slumps or something unforeseen. The Bruins are kind of stuck in a position right now where they’re clearly good enough to be a playoff team, but don’t seem quite Cup-worthy. It’s up to Bruins management to do something about that and find a way to get them closer to the elite in the East. Easier said than done, but that’s the gig.

Hi Joe,

McAvoy is the future for this team. However, is he untouchable at this time? The NHL seems to be moving more towards having an arsenal of #2/3 defensemen instead of the quintessential #1. If they are receiving calls on him I believe now is the time to sell. A future superstar for a future superstar. I personally do not believe Sweeney is capable of a trade this complex. However, the league is gearing more towards skill and speed. Besides the first line and DeBrusk, who stands out offensively? Even though Chiarelli may never negotiate with the Bruins, I would venture a McAvoy for Draisaitl move. Fixes the RW issue now, and bridges the C gap for Bergeron/Krejci. Thank you!


JH: I disagree about moving away from a quintessential No. 1. Now, is Charlie McAvoy going to be a No. 1 defenseman when it’s all said and done? That’s a legitimate question that needs to be answered. Clearly, he needs to stay healthy and needs to continue developing both ends of his game while showing that he truly wants to be a No. 1 guy.

But I’m not ready to give up on McAvoy in a seismic deal like you are talking about. As it is now, the Bruins are probably going to get him for a more reasonable contract than once thought given that this season hasn’t been a dominant one for him. Given the shortcomings that Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk have defensively and given that Chara is 41, there would be a huge void on Boston’s back end if they moved McAvoy without getting some kind of equal defensive talent in return.

It’s certainly true, though, that the Bruins are going to have to give up equal talent if they hope to get a young star forward into the mix who can really change their dynamic up front. And other teams will undoubtedly be asking about McAvoy. Still, I wouldn’t do it if I were Sweeney and Neely, and I don’t think they really have an appetite for it given some of the other young stars that they’ve traded in the past. McAvoy just needs more time to develop both on and off the ice and the Bruins need to give it to him.

Hey Haggs

I hear u about the B’s lack of response. The B’s seems to be in good shape when healthy but they need to make 2 moves up front: 1 for a scorer and 1 for a guy that can handle himself and add a bit of offence. Personally I like to see if they could get 2 rentals Maroon (any guy that would drop the gloves with Big Z is good in my books and can score a bit) and Simmonds (total package). Living close to Toronto often hear how the Leafs play a lot like the Bolts and they both may have a ton of offence but the Leafs don’t have Callahan JT Miller Paquette Hedman McDonough to compete in the physicality department and that was the difference in the B’s beating Leafs and losing to Tampa.

B’s get Maroon and Simmonds imagine:

Bergy Marchand Pasta

Krejci Debrusk Simmonds

Kuraly Maroon Wagner

Backes Nordstrom Heinen/Donato/JFK (at least one of them would leave in Simmonds deal)



London Ontario

JH: I have long been a fan of the Bruins going after Wayne Simmonds and still think he might be the best fit for what they truly need on that second line. He’s more skilled offensively than Michael Ferland and certainly a top-6 guy where some of the other players (Ferland, Patrick Maroon) are more third line guys at this point.

From talking to people around the Bruins, it sure seems as if they want somebody younger that they can control for a while under contract. Don’t forget that when they made the Rick Nash trade and gave up a first-round pick, the understanding was that Nash was going to resign in Boston so they were making an investment for beyond just last season.

Obviously, it didn’t come to pass with Nash retiring due to the concussion, but the Bruins are still in a position where they want somebody beyond this season. That might be a bit of a rub with Simmonds, who's probably looking to make some big free-agent bucks after this season. But who knows? Maybe they trade for Simmonds, he realizes the Bruins are a perfect fit and they find something reasonable that can work for both sides. Crazier things have happened.

As far as Maroon goes, I’d take a pass at this point. If you get Simmonds, then I don’t think you really need him. They just need somebody up front that plays a big, strong, heavy, mean game, and if he can score a few goals, then all the better. That’s the very definition of Simmonds, but we’ll see if the Bruins can pull it off.  

I also still like the idea of Brayden Schenn as a versatile, tough, competitive player who would really upgrade the Bruins up front. And he’s signed for next season. I don’t think he’d end up costing the Bruins something they wouldn’t be willing to part with either.

Hi Joe,
Wow! These B’s are NOT there to compete against the top teams when they struggle against teams they should be man-handling, especially on home ice! Sorry, ‘man-handling’, was thinking of those 2010-2013 Bruins that had players with grit, jam, size to go with scorers.....won a Cup and a finalist!  It’s still called hockey and the NHL (physical) even in 2019!


JH: I agree, Ron. Playing down to the competition with the Flyers and Rangers over the past week was a concern. It also looked to me that, like the Christmas break, the Bruins were already thinking about their vacation plans ahead of the bye rather than focusing on beating the Rangers. Still, they’re in a good spot and they managed to battle through plenty of adversity in the first half. Let’s see what they can do at the trade deadline and then we’ll adjust our expectations from there.  

When do you think we'll get the Title for Star Wars Episode XI? #HaggBag

--Alissa #RSPNow (@nerdmetalchic4)

JH: How about Star Wars Episode XI: The Search to Undo what the Last Jedi Wrought? Seriously, I’d go with something like “The Last Stand of the Resistance” maybe.

Hi Joe,

That was a bad week by the Bruins. One point against the Canadiens, Flyers and Rangers is just not good enough. And losing to the Rangers, another bad Hockey team, puts them at 9 losses to bad teams this year. That game was lost in the first 10 minutes tonight. Six power play minutes and the Rangers had the better of the chances. That’s not good enough. Bergeron and Krejci are the best 2 Bruins when it comes to puck management. So you put Krejci on the point on the power play. By doing that you probably cut down on the number odd man rushes the opposing teams constantly get.

And come on Halak, you got to make a save on the winning goal. There was very little traffic in front, that's a save that's got to be made.

Terry Carpenter

JH: Agreed. Terry. Halak is simply coming back to his usual level of performance after playing so well in the first half of the season, but I’m sure some of it is also about his playing time getting spaced out with Tuukka Rask’s performance on the rise. I would expect, barring any unforeseen issues with Rask’s concussion against the Rangers, that it will continue to play out that way in the second half.

The Bruins don’t usually put Krejci and Bergeron together on the power play unless it’s a two-man advantage. I’m not sure putting a forward back there on point is going to cut down on the shorthanded chances for other teams. It may simply be that the Bruins are going to have to live with that as long as the power play continues to score goals. The problem in the last few games was that the PP wasn’t functioning well offensively and was still giving up chances to the other team. When that happens, it’s time to change something up on the special teams. Maybe it’s about putting McAvoy as the top point guy on the top unit rather than Krug, who tends to run into problems when it comes to those shorthanded chances allowed. Either way, there’s an adjustment that needs to made, particularly given how dependent the Bruins are on the power play for much of their offensive success. The PP needs to come through if they’re going to win games against good teams and even against not-so-good teams as well. It’s as simple as that.

Hi Joe, 

Thanks for taking my question. I'm worried that Sweeney will trade away some of our young assets for aging veterans just to get an opportunity to get out of the 1st round.

Case in point, last year's acquisition of Rick Nash. NYR got a great young developing star in Ryan Lindgren. 

It's clear that the B's are more than a few players away to match top echelon teams like the Bolts, Caps, Jet and Flames. It take 3 years for your rookies to come into own with a team. I wouldn't rush to trade Heinen (who is having a down year), JFK, Donato etc.  Both Carlo and Grzelcyk have really come into their own this year and I would hate to see the B's org developing these assets over the past couple of years and then trading them to a non-playoff team that will end up with a valuable asset.....while we lose our trade acquisition to free agency or retirement.

Your thoughts?


JH: I’ll be honest, Art. I don’t think Ryan Lindgren is a young developing star. Certainly, he might be an NHL defenseman, but I don’t think there is much in the way of star qualities there. I think the Bruins need to trade somebody from the Danton Heinen/Ryan Donato/Anders Bjork troika and obviously, it’s not going to be Bjork given he just went down with another shoulder surgery. I actually think Donato could end up being the guy that gets moved if/when it does happen. Clearly, there is NHL talent there in his shot and release, and other teams will value that highly.

I wouldn’t trade Brandon Carlo. I think he’s made real progress this season offensively and he’s started to develop a bit of the warrior mentality in the defensive zone as well. Would I trade Matt Grzelcyk? I probably would if it was a forward who could come in and be a difference-maker. You can make arguments about waiting three years for the young players to come into their own, but where are Bergeron, Chara and Marchand going to be at that point? Where is the Bruins team as a whole going to be at that point? They are in a competitive window now and that means making a trade to help this season’s team, and it may mean trading away a young piece that clearly could become a good player for another team.

I wouldn’t trade any of those assets for a rental player unless the Bruins had designs on keeping him beyond this season, however. They didn’t do that last season when the only NHL talent they gave up was Ryan Spooner, who they weren’t going to keep anyway (and who just waived by the Edmonton Oilers as well).  

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Bruins need to regain focus after stumbling into the bye week

Bruins need to regain focus after stumbling into the bye week

BOSTON – It’s been a disappointing stretch for the Bruins headed into the bye week as recent losses to the Rangers, Flyers and Canadiens showed the B’s that they still have work to do when it comes to facing teams below them in the standings.

The mid-week loss to the Flyers in Philly was disappointing in that it didn’t feel like the Bruins fully showed up for the game, and that was again the case in a 3-2 loss to the Blueshirts on Saturday night at TD Garden. 

It looked like a Bruins team that was worried about their vacation plans getting ruined by the snowstorm, and a Rangers team that decided to worry about that after last night's two points were in the bank. 


The Bruins are pretty much fully healthy at this point and have even been buoyed by a strong first few games from rookie Peter Cehlarik, but their goaltending, their power play and their top line have been erratic after carrying them for the first half of the season.

Bruce Cassidy said it will all be a point of emphasis when the Bruins get back more than a week from now from a combination of their bye week and NHL All-Star weekend. Another point of emphasis: Keeping focused on the shift after the Bruins score, which has given way to opponent goals over the last few weeks.

The shift-to-shift focus has perhaps been lacking in recent weeks, and maybe a byproduct of the dog days of the season in January. The hope is that the bye week will take care of that malaise that even the B’s best players seemed to be suffering from when a Patrice Bergeron face-off loss in the defensive zone led to a very quick Rangers go-ahead goal in the second period.

“You have to be a self-motivator to be a successful player in this league. It can’t be up to the coach every night to rev you up. We give them information, we prepare them the day before, we do some stuff in the morning, but when that puck drops it’s the individuals job to be ready to play, energy-wise and focused on the task at hand,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We had a faceoff goal that the lining was wrong, and they scored on it, second goal. We were just not in the right spots, and part of that’s on our staff and part of that’s on our players to get it right.


“We get there late, and it’s in the net. So, some of those things crept into the game tonight. I was asked this morning would our focus be on – maybe it was on the break, but I don’t want to use that as a crutch because it’s happened to us how many games now - four, five, six where we’ve kind of let off the gas, got comfortable, maybe thought it was going to be an easy shift the next one and wanted to extend the lead but not playing the right way. There are a lot of those things that go into it. Yeah, we’ll address it, but you’re not a teacher to the student that listens, right? That’s kind of part of it. We have to buy in.”

So the Bruins will go into the bye week with a hold on third place in the Atlantic Division just a tick over the Montreal Canadiens, , and firmly in a playoff spot after battling through injuries and adversity in the first half of the season. But now it seems that leaving those tough times behind has allowed some comfort to creep into Boston’s game, and it showed with some disappointing defeats right ahead of the break.

It will be up to the Bruins to self-correct when they get going again more than a week from now as rested and recharged as they’ve been since the beginning of October. But these last few games are also a signal that the Bruins better get focused when they come back from their assorted vacations because the next few months are going to be a battle to protect their slim playoff cushion over Montreal, Pittsburgh and Buffalo.  

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