Bruins

Short-handed Bruins reunite Pastrnak with Bergeron and Marchand

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Short-handed Bruins reunite Pastrnak with Bergeron and Marchand

BRIGHTON -- With a lineup that’s missing many of its depth players, the Bruins are going to load up at the very top and hope they can ride that to a few victories in the short term.

Coach Bruce Cassidy has reunited Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron with 21-year-old David Pastrnak, and pieced back together a line that did a lot of offensive damage last season.

There didn’t appear to be much choice given that the B's are missing a host of other centers with David Krejci, David Backes and Ryan Spooner all injured. Clearly it wasn’t Cassidy’s first choice, as it makes the Bruins a little easier to stop defensively if all their point-production eggs are stocked in one basket. But we all know what they say about desperate times.

“It’s going to be a little more ‘by committee’ with all the injuries," said Cassidy. "We’ve seen a lot of shifting of lines night to night, and that won’t change. We’ll see who best fits with who and the match-ups on a night-to-night [basis], but we lose a big physical match-up advantage that we’d had recently [with Backes out].

“We have a core group of guys that can really carry this team. We just have to get the other guys pulled in quick. That’s our job and to make sure that our core is good every night . . . That’s a big ask for those guys to bring their ‘A’ games every night, but that’s what we’re looking at right now. They have to lead us, and the followers have to do a good job following.”

So now the two leading goal-scorers for the Bruins -- Marchand and Pastrnak, who've combined for 14 -- will join up with Bergeron, who has averaged a point-per-game in his six games since returning from a season-opening injury.

Clearly the defensive expectations of playing with Bergeron adn Marchand could also be a good thing for Pastrnak, given his minus-7 rating to start the season.

Pastrnak said the trio won’t be putting any additional pressure on themselves as Boston’s top-heavy offensive line, but it does seem like the goals and points seem to follow whenever they’re put together.

“Those two guys have been together for so long and they have such good chemistry, it’s easy to get in there," he said. "I’ve been around a lot of lines the last few years, so it doesn’t matter who I’m with. I’m just trying to do my best and always [trying to] get the offensive stuff going. Every time I come to that line, we don’t talk about anything except trying to get the job done. That’s all we talk about [between] the three of us. We never talk about scoring a goal, you know? We just talk about getting the job done.”

In this case “getting the job done” would be winning some games and surviving until they start getting some of their injured bodies back in the lineup. That’s the task for Boston’s remaining healthy players -- like Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak -- in what could be some short-term trying times ahead.

Haggerty: Bruins should pass on trading for Wayne Simmonds

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File photo

Haggerty: Bruins should pass on trading for Wayne Simmonds

DALLAS -- Interesting times for the Bruins as they head into NHL Draft weekend here, as a number of names have been bandied about as possibilities,. Things are fluid right now as far as targets and potential strategies go, what with the draft being held this weekend and free agency opening on July 1. 

One name that has popped up in recent days is Flyers power forward Wayne Simmonds, who is entering the final year of his contract at age 29. Simmonds was mentioned as a possible target by NBC Sports Boston way back in May, and has been kicked up in the last few days with The Athletic’s Michael Russo mentioning him as possible trade bait for the Minnesota Wild. 

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In a vacuum, Simmonds would be a terrific second-line fit for Boston. Despite battling injuries that culminated with him undergoing hip surgery, Simmonds scored 24 goals and 46 points last year. Just a couple of seasons ago he put up 32 goals and 60 points. At his best, the 6-foot-2, 183-pounder is a prototypical power forward capable of scoring goals around the net, throwing big hits and dropping the gloves with a ferocious level of intimidation when the situation calls for it. 

He’s very much in the mold of Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Jarome Iginla as the kind of power winger that’s been very good with David Krejci in the past, and would make the Bruins a little tougher and much harder to play against. 

So, clearly, as a player Simmonds would be “a great addition” for the Bruins, as Bruce Cassidy said about Ilya Kovalchuk, with all things being equal. 

Here’s the rub: The cost is going to be considerable for Simmonds. The Bruins will have to give up significant assets to get a full year of Simmonds ahead of his free-agent walk year, and then they’d need to pay up again to sign him to a big contract extension at some point next season.

Certainly the B’s would feel beholden to sign Simmonds if they gave up blue-chip prospects and draft picks to land him.

As with most trade discussions over the last year, Jake DeBrusk is a name that's been an ask from other team. Even if it's Danton Heinen or Anders Bjork involved in the discussions instead, the Bruins would need to give up a valued young winger in order to get the more established Simmonds. 

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They’d be doing all this for a big-bodied, 29-year-old player who's probably going to start slowing down, and breaking down, over the next few seasons.

A couple of years ago landing Simmonds would have been a master stroke move for the Bruins as they sought to replace Lucic’s hulking presence in the lineup. Certainly they could have used the offensive punch on their second line, where Rick Nash disappointed after arriving at the trade deadline last spring. 

But in this humble hockey writer’s opinion, the window should probably be closed at this point on acquiring Simmonds, given the cost in terms of both assets and future dollars.

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Morning Skate: One man's NHL awards ballot (sorry, Patrice)

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NBC Sports Boston illustration

Morning Skate: One man's NHL awards ballot (sorry, Patrice)

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving full credit to the NHL for an excellent awards show that adeptly highlighted very emotional hockey stories involving Las Vegas and the Humboldt Broncos. Seeing all those Humboldt kids together while the Broncos head coach’s widow made an awards speech was very moving.

-- Speaking of the awards, here’s my full PHWA ballot submitted at the end of the season. I’ll admit that I had a very different line of thinking than most with my Hart Trophy vote, as I didn’t have Taylor Hall in my top five. I wasn’t going to penalize players like Evgeni Malkin and Nikita Kucherov for having outstanding seasons on good teams, as it seemed like this season’s voting was all about players, like Hall and Nathan MacKinnon, who essentially carried middling teams to the playoffs. I’d also stick with Patrice Bergeron as the best defensive forward in the NHL even if he missed 22 percent of the season (18 games) due to injuries. I know that many voters ended up dinging Bergeron for the time missed to injuries, and that opened the door for another very viable candidate in Anze Kopitar to win the Selke for the second time.

Victor Hedman for Norris and Mathew Barzal for Calder were both no-brainers, and the Lady Byng is always a toss-up as I didn’t have winner William Karlsson on my ballot either. Anyway, here’s my ballot:

Hart Trophy

1. Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Claude Giroux Philadelphia Flyers
3. Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche
4. Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay Lightning
5. Blake Wheeler Winnipeg Jets

Norris Trophy

1. Victor Hedman Tampa Bay Lightning
2. PK Subban Nashville Predators
3. John Carlson Washington Capitals
4. Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings
5. Shayne Gostisbehere Philadelphia Flyers

Calder Trophy

1. Mathew Barzal New York Islanders
2. Brock Boeser Vancouver Canucks
3. Yanni Gourde Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Charlie McAvoy Boston Bruins
5. Clayton Keller Arizona Coyotes

Lady Byng Trophy

1. Ryan O'Reilly Buffalo Sabres
2. Alex DeBrincat Chicago Blackhawks
3. Ryan Spooner New York Rangers
4. Mark Stone Ottawa Senators
5. Evgenii Dadonov Florida Panthers

Selke Trophy

1. Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
2. Anze Kopitar Los Angeles Kings
3. Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
4. Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
5. Aleksander Barkov Florida Panthers

-- Think there might be some angry Edmonton Oilers fans who want a refund on the Hall-for-Adam Larsson trade that Peter Chiarelli engineered a couple of seasons ago? Yeah, I think there probably might be.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Darren Dreger says his gut feeling is that Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson is going to get traded.

-- Which teams might be interested in Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly? Well, there should be plenty, given what kind of player he is. This is part of the problem with the B’s trying to deal David Krejci or David Backes this offseason. There are going to be much better, younger players available out there on the trade market like O’Reilly.  

-- Now that the foundation is in place for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the job becomes taking that next step with the Leafs.

-- It sounds like it’s going to be a busy weekend for Jeff Gorton and the New York Rangers as they have a slew of first-round picks to make on Friday night.

-- It sounds like Dallas isn’t all that pumped about hosting the NHL Draft this weekend. Or maybe they just don’t know it’s going on.

-- For something completely different: Boy, Kevin McHale sure gained some attention this morning after being a very noticeable audience member during yesterday’s Trump speech in Minnesota.