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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Jack Studnicka the next great hope for the Bruins at center position

Jack Studnicka the next great hope for the Bruins at center position

Jack Studnicka didn’t participate in any of the on-ice activities during Bruins development camp a couple of weeks ago, but the 20-year-old clearly remains Boston’s best hope as a top-6 center of the future as he approaches his first full pro season.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound center skated with the Black Aces and served as a reserve for the Bruins during their Stanley Cup playoff run, so he had been skating up until the Final ended in early June. That was the reason for his absence from the ice, but he still participated in the week, served as a leader among the Bruins prospects and continued to sound a determined, confident tone when it comes to helping the NHL team.

It won’t happen, of course, but Studnicka is so intent on getting to the NHL as fast as possible that he volunteered to play wing this coming season while knowing that the Bruins will have openings on the wing in NHL training camp.

“Anything to help the team, in my eyes. I’ll play any position. Obviously, my goal is to play with the big club, whether that’s right wing or center, I’m just going to work as hard as I can and compete,” said Studnicka, talking to the Bruins media with a pair of missing front teeth after an incident in the OHL last season. “I think going into any camp, you’re in the wrong place if you’re goal isn’t to make the team. That’s my goal going into this year, that was my goal last year and the year before. It should be everybody’s goal to come here and try and compete and play at a high level.”

That’s the sound of a kid that’s hungry to get to The Show.

That’s excellent news for the Bruins with a pair of top-6 centers in Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci that are on the wrong side of 30 years old. They could really use some young blood down the middle when it comes to their top-6, even if it’s a player that’s NHL-ready a year or two down the road, as both Bergeron and Krejci hit their mid-30’s.

The numbers were excellent in his final season at the junior level with 36 goals and 83 points for Oshawa and Niagara in 60 games played for them, and another 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 11 playoff games before going pro. During that time he showed off the playmaking, the goal-scoring, the two-way play and the leadership that’s been part of the package since he was drafted in the second round back (53rdoverall) in 2017.

“I think I can contribute offensively and that’s what I’m going to be looking to do,” said Studnicka. “And just compete. Doing all the little things right. That’s something the Bruins always talk about along with winning battles. I just want to show them that I can compete at the NHL level.”

It’s a game the Bruins are looking forward to developing up close at the AHL level in 2019-20 and then deciding how quickly his ascension will be to the NHL level. One of his potential competitors for an NHL spot has gone back to Sweden in Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, and another in Trent Frederic doesn’t have quite the same high-end offensive ability that Studnicka should have when he gains full maturity as a hockey player.

“He was very good,” said Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner. “I think a testament to who that kid is, he gets traded to Niagara and he’s wearing a letter to the team he was traded to within a month. That’s impressive. That means you’re stepping right in and doing the things coaches see from leaders. [He had a] good season."

“He continues to do the little things in the game that translate to being a good pro, When he came to us in Providence at the end, he had some good playoff games, stepped right into the lineup. (Niagara) lost on a Sunday or Monday and he was in our lineup three days later. He’s just continuing to grow, adding strength. He’s still skinny. He’s working at it and he’s doing everything he can. It’s just taking a little time with him.”

Studnicka had a goal and two points in four playoff games for the Providence Bruins at the end of the AHL season, and then practiced all spring with the Bruins while traveling with the NHL team and getting an up-close look at their run to the Stanley Cup Final.

That experience made him equal parts adept learner and anxious reserve awaiting for his own chance to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But there’s no substitute for getting to watch Krejci and Bergeron prepare every day, even if it was from the outside watching inward.

“That was awesome,” said Studnicka. “One of the best times of my life. You get to watch the Stanley Cup Finals live. You get to travel with the team and see what it’s all about and you can just soak things in. Obviously, it was the stage for them and they deserved to be there.

“[It was] an unfortunate ending, but to be there to see it all unfold right in front of my eyes was really cool. [Bergeron and Krejci] are two high-end players in the National Hockey League, they have been for a long time and they will continue to do that. So you see what they do on the ice that’s given them success over all those years.”

Hopefully Studnicka was paying close to attention to No. 37 and No. 46 during the playoffs because he might just be called upon to help them as soon as next season if he shows that is game is NHL-ready at his next development phase in Providence.

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Danton Heinen "wanted to be an offensive guy," now Bruins need him to be more of that guy

Danton Heinen "wanted to be an offensive guy," now Bruins need him to be more of that guy

Danton Heinen knows that his numbers dipped from his rookie season to this past year’s sophomore campaign where he posted 11 goals and 34 points in 77 games. Still, the 24-year-old earned a big pay raise with his two-year, $5.6 million contract signed earlier in the week to avoid salary arbitration, so he knows he’ll be sticking around in Boston for the next couple of season.

Heinen will also be looking to regain some of the offensive mojo that he lost from the first half of his first NHL season when he scored 11 goals and 33 points in his first 43 games. Since then Heinen has just 16 goals and 48 points in his last 111 games, and he finished with a very quiet two goals in 24 games during Boston’s Stanley Cup playoff run.

So the young winger knows he’s going to need to start gaining a little ground back offensively headed into his third NHL campaign and regain some of that hungry swagger that he seemed to have coming right out of the game in his rookie campaign. The Bruins will need it after watching Marcus Johansson leave in unrestricted free agency with some pretty big job openings on the right wing side on two of Boston’s top three lines.

Certainly, there are young players that will get cracks at top-6 winger positions headed into next season, but Heinen is a guy that has the potential to clinch one of those gigs if he can find his offensive confidence. The responsible two-way play is definitely there and he’ll play no lower than third line wing on next season’s Bruins team, but the feeling is that there is certainly a higher ceiling for a player that left college hockey after two dominant seasons at the University of Denver.

“I’m going to continue to work on [the little details] because I think if you’re good at the little details good things happen, and you’re put in better spots on the ice. I’m going to continue to work on those details and then when you get chances, grade-A looks or [chances to] be an offensive guy that’s kind of… do your follow up there. That’s the kind of player I see myself being,” said the 6-foot-1, 188-pound Heinen. “Coming into the league, I wanted to be an offensive guy. I wanted to, you know, create more, and I’m going to keep on working at doing that, trying to produce more for the team.

“I think I also need to, you know, kind of get in a mindset where I’m shooting more and am more confident in my shot because, you know, different opportunities I might pass up or whatever. I believe in my shot, and I believe I can score. I think it’s just continuing believing in that and working on it.”

To Heinen’s point, his shots on goal dropped from 135 in his rookie season to 114 shots in the very same 77 games played last season. Some of it is about firing more pucks on the net and seizing the good scoring chances when the puck is on his stick. Some of it is about getting stronger in the battles areas of the ice and simply going there more often than he does right now.

The Bruins have certainly placed the investment in Heinen that they believe he’s going to take the next step offensively after carving out a nice, little third line winger niche for himself over the last couple of seasons. Now it’s up to the 24-year-old nice kid from British Columbia to seize the opportunity he’s been given and unlock some of the hidden parts of his two-way game that never fully emerged in a sophomore season where he was invisible on the ice a little too often.

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