Bruins

Ondrej Kase trade is very good for the Bruins, but is it good enough?

Ondrej Kase trade is very good for the Bruins, but is it good enough?

The Bruins wanted a young right winger at the trade deadline who could be a top-six solution for years to come and they wanted to rid themselves of the David Backes contract for much-needed salary cap flexibility as well.

Don Sweeney accomplished both of those goals with the Friday trade with the Anaheim Ducks that shipped Backes, their 2020 first-round pick and defenseman prospect Axel Andersson in exchange for right winger Ondrej Kase, 24.

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Kase is a middle-six winger already with a 20-goal season under his belt and his ability to generate 5-on-5 offense is an absolute area of need for a team that’s been far too reliant on special teams offense in recent years.  

“He’s a young, talented player that’s a significant producer while 5-on-5, has shown the versatility to adapt his game on different lines and his shot volume his increased over the years,” said GM Don Sweeney. “It addresses a need. He’ll join the team back in Boston and we’ll move forward from there.

“With his speed, his scoring ability, his versatility within his own game and his ability to probably play with either [David] Krejci or [Charlie] Coyle on their right side, he adds speed and offensive ability to our hockey club. We’ve addressed what we think we needed.”

Fancy-stat types will love them some of the advanced statistics surrounding Kase’s game that show the Czech winger to be a versatile player capable of generating offense wherever he plays. It's to his credit that the youngster has looked comfortable playing on each of Anaheim’s top three lines in his Ducks career.

Even better, Kase is under Bruins control for next season at a $2.6 million cap hit and following that will be a restricted free agent still under Boston’s control.  

The combination of trading Backes (and eating 25 percent of his contract) and bringing in Kase nets about $2 million in cap space for the Bruins over the next two seasons and that’s one of the biggest features of the trade. 

Theoretically, the extra space gives Boston the additional cap space to A) make another deal prior to the Monday deadline and B) potentially sign defenseman Torey Krug to a long-term contract beyond this season.

The biggest asset the Bruins sacrificed was their first-round pick in this summer’s draft, of course. Still, it appears that selection is going to be at the bottom of the first round based on Boston’s position at the top of the standings and the expectations for the team headed into the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The truth is that sacrificing a first-rounder is the cost of doing business to extricate themselves from the awful Backes contract, and to bring in a talented, young forward years away from free agency.

Still, the Bruins clearly winning this trade doesn’t come without risk or criticism.

In four seasons with the Ducks, the 5-foot-11, 186-pound Kase has never been healthy enough to play in more than 66 games in a regular season. He’s been out since Feb. 7 with a concussion and will be on injured reserve when he meets up with the Bruins in Boston at the start of next week. 

Given that he’s never scored more than 20 goals or 38 points in a season and is on pace for 10 goals and 33 points this season, Kase feels more like a good third-line acquisition rather than the top-six goal-scorer that this team really needs to put them over the top.

It all makes one wonder whether there’s another shoe to drop with other tradeable assets on the NHL roster such as Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen and John Moore, among others. Sweeney wasn’t ruling anything out while speaking with the media on a Friday afternoon conference call, but it’s clear he also wanted to put all the attention on the acquisition of Kase.

“I don’t know what will be, or can be, done before the deadline. We’ll continue to make calls on opportunities that may exist,” said Sweeney.

Still, the fact that the Bruins have already used their first-rounder in the Kase deal likely leaves them without ample ammunition to remain in the sweepstakes for bigger-name wingers Chris Kreider and Kyle Palmieri.

If this is all that the Bruins do ahead of the deadline, then they are most definitely better after adding Kase and subtracting Backes from the equation. But it doesn’t feel like they’ve done enough to make them the favorites in future playoff series against Tampa Bay or Washington this spring.

That’s really what it’s all about for a Bruins team in a Cup window that’s closing pretty rapidly.  

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the NHL trade deadline. This Monday at 2:30 p.m., stream the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBoston.com.

This Week in Bruins Playoff History: The best B's game I've ever covered

This Week in Bruins Playoff History: The best B's game I've ever covered

After covering almost 20 years’ worth of NHL games with the Bruins and hundreds of Stanley Cup Playoff games, the Game 7 between the Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2011 Eastern Conference Final goes down as the single best game I’ve ever covered.

The 1-0 win for the Black and Gold that vaulted them to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final was played this week nine years ago -- May 27, 2011 -- at TD Garden with everything on the line for a Bruins core group at the height of its powers.

It was a perfectly-executed game between the Bruins and Lightning fine-tuned by a pair of long postseason runs. There wasn’t a single penalty called in the entire game by the referring crew of Dan O’Halloran and Stephen Walkom and just a miniscule 57 whistle stoppages. Both teams were locked into playing mistake-free hockey and did just that for the first two and a half periods of the do-or-die game with everything on the line. 

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“I have nothing really intelligent to say right now,” said legendary NBC play-by-play man Doc Emrick on the telecast at the beginning of the third period, “other than to say, ‘It’s been terrific.’ ”

The Bruins had the better of the chances with Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson forced to make 37 saves, while Tim Thomas had to stop just 24 shutouts in the eventual shutout performance. 

The Bruins had the better of the chances whether it was a Milan Lucic breakaway in the first period, or the 22 shots on net peppered by the top two forward lines of Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi throughout the game. 

But it was all about the entire Bruins team with top shutdown pair Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg both topping 26 minutes of ice time for the game and the B’s defense holding both Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos to just single shots on net.

It was the mild-mannered, powerful Seidenberg who drilled St. Louis with a big open ice hit in the first two minutes of the game and summarily made the announcement to the finesse Lightning bunch that that they were in for a tough night. 

For the Bruins it was about cracking the 1-3-1 trap employed by Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, and that opening finally presented itself midway through the third period. It took the perfectly-executed play to break their system and win the game, and that’s exactly what the Bruins pulled off. 

Andrew Ference carried the puck out of the defensive zone before hitting Krejci in a perfect spot in the neutral zone between two defenders. Krejci skated it quickly into the offensive zone and created a 2-on-1 with Horton moving without the puck to the net, and it was a perfect, slick dish from the playmaking center to Game 7 hero Horton that produced the game-winner.

 

Horton scored the Game 7 game-winner against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round as well, and those two goals cemented his massive status in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final run before a dirty Aaron Rome hit in the Stanley Cup Final took him out of that series. 

The game was finished off by Seidenberg blocking his eighth shot of the game in a warrior performance from the German defenseman, and featured Stamkos playing with his nose all stitched up and repaired after taking a heavy, deflected Johnny Boychuk slap shot right to his face. 

The game had toughness, playmaking and the ultimate compete level with none of the nonsense that can sometimes mar postseason affairs. 

There certainly have been Bruins playoff games with more nastiness and times when it took an amazing, iconic play to win a clinching game in a series. But from beginning-to-end there has never been anything quite as tense and well-played as a 0-0 game through the first 50 plus minutes of the game where it became clear that the first hockey team to crack was going to lose the game. 

It took a perfectly designed and executed play from the Black and Gold to put the finishing move on the Lightning, and that was only appropriate given the tenor of the game. Anybody who was at TD Garden on May 27, 2011, remembers the exact emotion in the aftermath as they left the building saying to themselves, “Damn, that was a good hockey game."

Who are the Top 10 NHL players from Massachusetts?

Who are the Top 10 NHL players from Massachusetts?

There’s a strong tradition of hockey in the state of Massachusetts, and not so surprisingly there is also no shortage of standout NHL players from this state.

A great deal of those talented players arrived in the years since Bobby Orr first came to town in Black and Gold and brought with him a hockey rink boom all over the Commonwealth, so there’s no coincidence to the timing of it all.

Another non-shocker: The greatest generation of Massachusetts hockey players continues to be the 1990’s when Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk and Tony Amonte along with Bill Guerin grew into dominant forces of talent at the NHL level. There may never such a concentration of star NHL players from Massachusetts all playing at the same time.

There were older pioneers and standouts, of course, like St. John’s Prep phenom Bobby Carpenter, one of the few high-level elite Massachusetts guys that laced up for the B's, and Acton-Boxborough’s Tom Barrasso on those Stanley Cup teams in Pittsburgh. Here’s a list of the top-10 all-time NHL players born in Massachusetts with apologies to Scott Young, Mike Milbury, Cory Schneider, Tom Poti, Tom Fitzgerald, Chris Nilan, Shawn McEachern and Jay Pandolfo for not quite making the cut.