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NHL trade deadline: Bruins might have another top-6 winger option in Brandon Saad

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL trade deadline: Bruins might have another top-6 winger option in Brandon Saad

The Bruins are left with Chris Kreider and Kyle Palmieri as the two biggest top-6 winger names still available on the trade market -- and likely to move -- ahead of Monday afternoon’s NHL trade deadline.

Part of the waiting game for Boston is on the Rangers and Devils, who are mulling if they’re indeed going to deal the impact wingers. Part of the waiting game is a hesitancy on the Bruins part to pay the kind of premium price those teams are still anticipating five days ahead of the deadline.

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That means the Bruins need alternatives to Kreider and Palmieri if the cost becomes too prohibitive as it seems like it is right now for Kreider, with the Rangers reportedly looking for a Rick Nash-type package for the speedy, big left winger.

"It's going to be a first-round pick, a prospect and some other piece," NBC Sports and TSN analyst Bob McKenzie said on NBC’s “Our Line Starts” podcast earlier this week. "Some other piece could be a player, it could be a lower-level prospect, it might be a lower-level draft pick, and there might be a conditional pick in there, too, if you re-sign him."

For the Bruins that would mean a first round pick, a top prospect like Urho Vaakanainen or Trent Frederic and then a potential roster piece like Danton Heinen. Certainly there’s flexibility in there with older prospects like Anders Bjork or Jeremy Lauzon potentially in the mix as well, but the bottom line is that it’s going to be a high price for a top drawer rental player like Kreider.

It should be an even higher price tag for a player like Palmieri who's been a big goal-producer and still has a year left on his contract beyond this season at a reasonable $4.85 million cap hit. The Bruins are interested in non-rental players like Palmieri that could solve Boston’s top-6 problem for a longer period of time, but there is most definitely a cost associated with that solution.  

Some of the other winger alternatives have already been dealt with both Tyler Toffoli and Blake Coleman moving well ahead of Monday’s deadline, but there are still other players out there that could fit Boston’s needs.

One of those wingers expected to move is Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad, per Sportsnet analyst Elliotte Friedman on his 31 Thoughts podcast.

“If it’s Kreider, Palmieri or Brandon Saad, they might consider doing it,” said Friedman of the Bruins giving up a first-round pick in a deadline deal. “I think Boston would prefer to do one of their younger players that maybe hasn’t gotten as much of a run [in the NHL] as one would have hoped.”

Saad fits the profile as an offensively viable top-6 winger with considerable postseason experience, and he’s having a pretty good season with 18 goals and 28 points in 48 games with an even plus/minus rating. More importantly, the 27-year-old Saad will be available now that the Blackhawks have fallen hard out of playoff contention with a collapse during the month of February.

Saad has topped out at 31 goals and 53 points in a season during his career, but he’s consistently been in the 20 goal/45 points neighborhood in his career and has 16 goals in 72 career playoff games mostly with the Blackhawks. He’d be an upgrade over players like Karson Kuhlman and Danton Heinen that might get top-6 looks in the playoffs if the Bruins don’t make a move, but he also comes as a less-than-perfect solution as a natural left winger.

Like Palmieri, Saad is also signed for next season and would merit a higher trade cost given that he’s not a strict rental player, either.

Saad brings pretty good size at 6-foot-1, 202-pounds, but he’s not nearly as big or physical as Kreider is on the left wing. Palmieri has an advantage on both Kreider and Saad because he’s the natural right wing that the Bruins truly require right now. Saad also holds a $6 million cap hit that’s higher than either Kreider or Palmieri and that would force a few more hoops for Don Sweeney to jump through before consummating a deal.

While not as impressive in the household name department as Kreider or Palmieri, Sweeney needs options at the deadline and a player like Saad gives him exactly that with the pressure mounting to get a deal done.

Haggerty: Here's what Bruins need to add at deadline

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.