Bruins

It would be nice for the Bruins to keep Marcus Johansson, but it may not be in the cards

It would be nice for the Bruins to keep Marcus Johansson, but it may not be in the cards

The Bruins weren’t exactly sure what they were going to get out of Marcus Johansson when they dealt for him at the trade deadline this winter.

They knew they were getting a skilled winger that could help them fill out their depth with their top-9 forward group, but there were questions about his health, his ability to play tough in the postseason and how well he would mesh with his new Bruins teammates.

Well, they are clearly sold in Johansson after watching him turn out to be one of their best forwards during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Johansson finished with four goals and 11 points in 22 games for the Bruins during the postseason and gave the Bruins the kind of depth, production and threat they were looking for out of their third line all season.

With that in mind, Bruins general Don Sweeney has made contact with Johansson’s agent JP Barry and there is expected to be a contract offer to keep him in Black and Gold. Clearly there is interest in keeping him around to be more than a rental given the way he played.

“We found that Marcus was a really good fit for our hockey club,” said Sweeney. “I was proud of how he got injured, came back and elevated his play, was really invested, thought he fit in really well with Charlie [Coyle] coming in, gave us some options on the power play, was a really good fit. Good person, great teammate and got us to a certain point. Wish we could’ve finished it off.”

Certainly Johansson sounded open to returning to Boston after really finding his groove with the Bruins in the postseason, but it also sounded like he was going to see it through to free agency as most veteran players would in his situation.

“I’ve loved it here. It’s been unbelievable. We’ll talk and see what happens and if we can work something out, this has been an unbelievable place to play. I’ve really loved it,” said Johansson. “Playing somewhere where you feel good, you’re happy and your family is happy, like it has been for me, that means a lot and it’s something I value a lot too. Hopefully we get to taking soon and we’ll see what happens.”

The problem with Johansson remaining with the Bruins?

He’s an unrestricted free agent and that means he’s going to be paid a premium if he gets to the July 1 open of NHL free agency. Johansson isn’t in the class of a player like Kevin Hayes, obviously, but watching him sign a seven-year contract worth more than $7 million is a sign to all free agent forwards that the money floodgates are open.

While Johansson won’t get the big money based on a pair of 20-goal seasons and some of the injury issues he’s endured over the last few seasons, he certainly could be in line for a long term deal paying him out $5-6 million per season. Given that the Bruins hold roughly $13 million in cap space and at least $11 million of that could be eaten up by RFAs Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen, it will take some maneuvering to get Johansson back into the fold.

Unless Johansson is going to become a bona ride top-6 forward capable of regularly scoring 20 goals per season and playing on one of the top two lines, that’s probably a luxury the Bruins are not going to be able to afford given their current cap situation. It was a nice run while it lasted for Johansson and the Bruins, but it may not be a workable relationship moving forward unless the Swedish forward is willing to take a lot less than market value when things get going ahead of the July 1 open of the NHL’s free agent funny season.

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NHL trade deadline: Analyzing Bruins' best assets to make moves with

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL trade deadline: Analyzing Bruins' best assets to make moves with

The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching and the Boston Bruins have yet to make a move.

The Bruins enter Tuesday with the league's best record and one of its deepest rosters. Still, there are a few areas that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney would be wise to upgrade ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and one of them is secondary scoring.

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So, what do the B's have to trade? Here's a look at the team's best trade assets.

NHL PLAYERS

David Backes, C/RW
John Moore, D
Danton Heinen, LW

Backes won't be easy to trade. His injury history should be a concern and he's no longer a productive offensive player. There are several teams with enough salary cap space to absorb's Backes' $6 million salary cap hit for next season, but he does have a modified no-trade clause that allows him to veto deals to 15 teams.

John Moore is a good option for teams who want to upgrade their blue line but aren't looking for a rental. Moore has three more years left on his contract with a manageable $2.75 million cap hit. He's a solid third-pairing defenseman despite his lack of scoring. The Bruins have a few young defensemen who could step into Moore's role if he was dealt.

Danton Heinen hasn't played particularly well this season, but he's signed through next season at a reasonable $2.8 million cap hit. Giving up on him at this juncture would be shortsighted.

The Bruins have a really nice roster -- duh, they have the league's best record -- so it doesn't make a ton of sense to trade away many of their NHL players. Torey Krug can be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and while losing a defenseman of his caliber for nothing in July would hurt, there's no way a top championship contender should trade an upcoming UFA like him at the deadline. Same with Jaroslav Halak, who has been one of the league's best backup goaltenders since Boston signed him before the 2018-19 campaign. Halak also is a UFA this summer.

PROSPECTS

Jack Studnicka, C, AHL
Urho Vaakanainen, D, AHL
Jack Beecher, C, Michigan (NCAA)
Curtis Hall, C, Yale (NCAA)
Jakub Lauko, LW, AHL
Trent Frederic, C, AHL
Jakub Zboril, D, AHL
Zach Senyshyn, RW, AHL

The Bruins don't have any elite prospects, but they do have several with impressive potential. Jack Studnicka is the best of the group, although it's hard to imagine the Bruins giving him up without a significant player coming to Boston in return. Studnicka should be ready for an extended look at the NHL level next season. Urho Vaakanainen shows promise at 21 years old, and the Bruins can ill afford to give up on their top defenseman prospect with captain Zdeno Chara in the final stages of his career, and veterans Krug and Kevan Miller eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. 

Jakub Zboril has not met expectations since the B's drafted him No. 13 in 2015. Jeremy Lauzon's emergence as a legitimate NHL talent could make Zboril expendable. Zboril also is a restricted free agent after this season. Another member of the Bruins' 2015 draft class is forward Zach Senyshyn, who, like Zboril, has yet to make a strong impact in the NHL and will be an RFA at season's end. Senyshyn has just nine points in 33 AHL games, and a fresh start might benefit him.

Frederic is an interesting one because he doesn't project to be a No. 1 or No. 2 center at the NHL level, which was pretty much the consensus when Boston surprisingly drafted him in the first round in 2016. In fairness, he's only 22 years old and has set career highs in goals, assists and points in Providence this season. The Bruins have plenty of center depth in the NHL and throughout their prospect pool, so it wouldn't be a massive hit to trade away one of these forwards.

DRAFT PICKS

The Bruins are in great shape when it comes to owning their own picks. The only selection over the next three drafts that Boston no longer owns is its fourth-round pick in 2020. This draft pick was part of the trade that sent New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson to the Bruins before last season's deadline. So, if selling teams are looking for draft capital on the trade market, the B's should be able to satisfy this need. They have all of their first-, second- and third-round picks to trade.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has done a nice job holding on to his first-round picks at recent trade deadlines. The only instance where he dealt a first-rounder at the trade deadline was in 2018 when the Bruins acquired Rick Nash from the New York Rangers. The trade made sense at the time -- Nash was among the best players available and filled a need -- but injury prevented him from being a reliable top-six player in Boston. Sweeney mostly has parted with second-, third- and fourth-round picks at the deadline. Last season, he traded two fourth-round selections and a second-rounder (plus Ryan Donato) in deals that acquired Charlie Coyle and Johansson.

The window for Boston to win is right now, and maybe the next two years. The team's veteran core is nearing the end of its prime, so if there was a time to trade a first-round pick for an impact forward, it's this season.

All salary information via Cap Friendly

Haggerty: Weekend deals put mounting pressure on Sweeney

Bruins trade target Tyler Toffoli dealt to Canucks

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Bruins trade target Tyler Toffoli dealt to Canucks

If the Boston Bruins are planning on making a big move before the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 24, their options are dwindling.

One of their rumored trade targets, Tyler Toffoli, was dealt by the Los Angeles Kings to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.


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Ex-Bruin Tim Schaller is headed to L.A. in the deal along with prospect Tyler Madden and a second-round pick, per TSN's Bob McKenzie.

Back in January, it was reported by Sportsnet NHL insider Elliotte Friedman the Bruins "could do a deal for Toffoli almost at any time" and "have that in their hip pocket." Now, Boston is forced to look in another direction. New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider is another player linked to the B's in trade rumors.

Toffoli, who had spent all of his eight-year career with the Kings, has 18 goals and 16 assists in 58 games this season.

The Bruins will see Toffoli and the Canucks on Saturday when they face off in Vancouver.