Bruins

Sources: Bruins have trade interest in Oil winger Maroon

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Sources: Bruins have trade interest in Oil winger Maroon

BOSTON – The wheels are beginning to be set in motion for the conversations, negotiations and game-playing that will lead up to the NHL trade deadline that’s little more than two weeks away, and the Bruins are absolutely in the mix.

The Bruins are eyeing a number of options on the wing with a real deep pool of talent expected to be available leading up to Feb. 26, and have had a longstanding desire to acquire a frontline left shot defenseman as well. The B’s have keen interest in Edmonton Oilers power forward Patrick Maroon, per multiple hockey sources, and it’s clear at this point the Oil are going to be a seller leading up to the deadline with their power forward as one of the big trade pieces.

Edmonton VP of hockey operations Craig MacTavish was in Boston last night at the Bruins/Sabres game to get a look at Boston’s NHL group, and word is that Bruins executive director of player personnel John Ferguson has been scouting Edmonton for each of the last couple of games. Add all of that up and it sounds like a deal may be brewing between the Bruins and the Oilers, a notion that might not have seemed possible three years ago when the Bruins President Cam Neely fired current Edmonton general manager Peter Chiarelli.

It would appear things have thawed to the point now where Edmonton and Boston would do a deal if it makes sense for both sides. In this case Maroon would be a good fit for a Bruins team looking for some veteran help on the wing, and the Oilers looking to stock up on young forwards and draft picks during a frustrating, lost season.   

The 29-year-old Maroon has 13 goals and 27 points in 52 games this season, and would be a straight rental for the Black and Gold as he’s set to hit unrestricted free agency at the end of the season. For a Bruins team that’s pretty young and fairly small on the wing this season, the 6-foot-3, 227-pounder has the ability to put the puck in the net and also play the kind of snarling, strong that the B’s could always use a little more of up front.

Certainly David Backes has brought some of that as well as a third line power forward on the right side, but he’s really the only B’s player among the top-3 forward lines that’s ever going to protect his teammates or throw any board-rattling hits. Maroon would be a guy that could do that as well and has been a prime time Bruins killer potting six goals against the Black and Gold in his last three games played against them.  

Maroon is coming off a career-high 27 goals and 42 points last season with the Oilers, and should be in line to get a pretty good contract this summer if he once again reaches the 20-goal plateau that he’s currently on pace for. While Maroon would be a solid rental acquisition for the Bruins, the expectation is that it wouldn’t cost the Bruins any of their top young players or even a first round pick in order to land the player.

The Bruins are taking a pretty open-minded approach to the deadline. They’re more than willing to improve their team, but they also rightfully don’t want to mess too much with a hockey club that’s been the best team in the NHL over the last three months.

“We can always get better. That’s essentially up to Donnie [Sweeney] to decide what’s available and what’s not, but there’s always going to be areas of improvement,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “I’m happy with our club. I love our guys’ togetherness and the fact that they pull for one another. We’ve won a lot of hockey games with some different guys in and out of the lineup.

“We’ll probably get a little bit more of a test as the degree of difficulty goes up on the schedule. We can better assess [potential trade needs]. The long and short of it is ‘I love my team. I love the way they compete. And you can always get better.”

In that regard, Bruins GM Don Sweeney is in a pretty good spot with a B’s team looking dominant this season before they even consider any trade upgrades, and with a plethora of trade options on the wing that includes Rick Nash, Michael Grabner and Evander Kane. That should keep the acquisition costs down for any of these players, including a guy like Maroon that the Bruins are clearly keeping tabs on right now.

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The final piece of the NHL superstar puzzle for David Pastrnak lies just ahead

The final piece of the NHL superstar puzzle for David Pastrnak lies just ahead

David Pastrnak brought the smile and the energetic charisma during Friday night’s Skills Competition at NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis. Then on Saturday, Pastrnak brought the dazzling hockey skills to become only the fourth Bruins player in franchise history to win All-Star MVP with his four goals and six points in the 3-on-3 tourney at Enterprise Center.

It was all the more impressive as it was in a losing effort with his Atlantic Division squad falling to the Pacific Division in the final game.

The 23-year-old Pastrnak joins Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Bill Guerin in a very select Black and Gold group and adds another NHL milestone to a career that’s already building up with impressive accomplishments at such a precocious hockey age. Pastrnak was appropriately humble and thankful afterward while making a nod toward an accomplishment that will make for a nice trophy in his Pasta mancave someday.

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“It was a blast here,” said Pastrnak, who joked before the game about wearing the “C” on his jersey and how heavy it was going to feel for the first time. “I would expect someone from the winning team should be MVP, but if I was voted in by the fans I appreciate it. I appreciated the love. We were here this weekend for [the fans].”

Certainly, Pastrnak deserves accolades for the way he turned a wide-open 3-on-3 competition among the world’s best hockey players in his own personal skill showcase. He’s that good at making breathtaking offensive plays when he’s got the time and space to operate, create and execute what he wants to do in his beautiful hockey mind.

But as much as the All-Star MVP served as icing on the midseason cake for a player in Pastrnak that’s on a pace for 60 goals and 113 points this season, there is still a lot for the young Bruins right winger to prove moving forward. He was an All-Star last year too and on a pace for massive offensive numbers before an off-the-ice mishap after a team function led him to tear the ligaments in his thumb, and never allowed him to get back to that level when he returned ahead of the playoffs.

Pastrnak played just 15 games after the All-Star break and managed totals of nine goals and 19 points in 24 playoff games along with an even plus/minus rating, a stat line for the postseason that seemed okay all things considered. But he was a boom-or-bust player that ended up going scoreless in 12 of those 24 playoff games and finished a minus-7 in the Stanley Cup Final with just two goals and four points, and only one of those points coming during 5-on-5 play.

Pastrnak at times shied away from contact, he flailed at many of his one-timer chances that he would normally bury during the regular season and he seemed to pass up shooting opportunities that were there for him at times. The young winger admitted after the series that A) his thumb was bothering him still and B) he learned some lessons about toughing up mentally in situations where he was being challenged to elevate his game.

“It was definitely tough. I wasn’t feeling great, but that’s why this was such a good group because we were always picking each other up. It was obviously challenging for me, but I had 25 guys to help pick me up just like I would do the opposite [for them],” said Pastrnak, back in June after the Cup Final was over in comments that bear repeating given how much of a target he’s going to be for opponents moving forward this season. “It was the mental stuff, you know? In this kind of life, even if you don’t want to see stuff, read stuff and blah-blah with the media, it’s tough. You’re always going to see it. And that’s fine, you know?

“I will take a lot of positives from this. I’m just going to get stronger mentally. It was a good experience. It’s a big mental experience. I gained a lot this postseason. The mental stuff is what I learned the most. [I learned] that it doesn’t [expletive] matter if you play a bad friggen’ game. It’s the playoffs. Or if you have a bad shift. It’s the playoffs and you just need to come back to the bench and make sure you’re ready for the next shift no matter what happened behind you. It’s the tough part of hockey sometimes when you get stuck on something instead of looking forward, and focusing on the next shift. Sometimes you get stuck on thinking what happened before and that brings you down kind of.”

It's all normal stuff for a developing NHL superstar and all the great ones go through it. But it’s time for Pastrnak to make that next step and be the dazzling, game-breaking force he was at NHL All-Star weekend when he’s playing against tough, physical opponents in the postseason that are determined to stop him.

The only way the Bruins are going to beat teams like Tampa or Washington the playoffs, in this humble hockey writer’s opinion, is if they get true scoring depth or if a player like Pastrnak goes supernova offensively against teams that are deeper, bigger and stronger than the Black and Gold lineup-wise.  

Pastrnak is the ultimate X-Factor given his skill set and his utter explosiveness, and his commanding lead in the goal-scoring department over players like Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin and Connor McDavid shows his ability to take over games. The true superstars do it when it matters most in the playoffs, and that is the true final hurdle for Pastrnak to surpass in a career that’s already portending hockey greatness at 23 years old.

The stage is set with the Bruins in first place and just 31 games remaining in the regular season, and now it’s up to Pasta to be Pasta at the most important time of year.

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David Pastrnak named MVP of 2020 NHL All-Star Game

David Pastrnak named MVP of 2020 NHL All-Star Game

The Atlantic Division may have come up just short in their quest to win their first NHL All-Star Game title since the league moved to a 3-on-3 tournament format for the big event. But David Pastrnak still took home one of the biggest accolades of the evening.

Pastrnak was named the All-Star Game MVP thanks to his strong performance on the ice.

Pastrnak edged out Leon Draisaitl, Matthew Tkachuk, and Anthony Duclair for the award which was voted on by NHL fans. Here's a look at the NHL's poll, courtesy of their official Twitter account.

Of course, a notable name is missing from that list: the San Jose Sharks' Tomas Hertl, who scored five total goals including the game-winner for the Pacific Division. Nonetheless, Pastrnak is going home as the MVP and become the first Bruins player to take home the award since Bill Guerin in 2001.

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Pastrnak had a hat trick in the Atlantic's first game, a win over the Metropolitan Division, and finished the night with four goals and two assists in the two games. Certainly, his performance was MVP worth even if there were a couple of other deserving candidates.

Hopefully, Pastrnak playing in the All-Star Game helps to keep him locked in moving forward. He has been one of the league's best scorers this year and is on pace to shatter his career-high in goals and points if he stays healthy.

The Bruins will need him to keep producing if they want to hold on to win the Atlantic Division.