Chris Kreider

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.

NHL rumors: Latest Chris Kreider asking price before trade deadline revealed

NHL rumors: Latest Chris Kreider asking price before trade deadline revealed

Teams hoping to acquire New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider before Monday's NHL trade deadline need to be prepared to pay a hefty price.

NHL insider Bob McKenzie was on NBC Sports' "Our Line Starts" podcast Wednesday and gave an update on Kreider's situation in New York, including what it would cost to pry him from the Rangers.

"It's going to be a first-round pick, a prospect and some other piece," McKenzie said. "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."

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Which teams are interested in landing Kreider?

"I got to believe the Boston Bruins are interested in Kreider, I got to believe the Colorado Avalanche are interested," McKenzie said. "I believe the New York Islanders have interest. I don't know what kind of premium the New York Islanders would have to pay to get a deal done with the New York Rangers. I think it would have to be a lot, because if you're the Rangers, the notion of Kreider coming in as an Islander -- I don't know, I'm just not sure about that. The Washington Capitals, I believe, have shown some interest in Chris Kreider, and I think the St. Louis Blues have had interest, although general manager Doug Armstrong said after the Marco Scandella trade that it wouldn't surprise him if that was the last deal they made before the deadline."

TSN reported Tuesday that the Bruins and Avalanche have emerged as frontrunners for Kreider, which makes a lot of sense.

The Bruins need secondary scoring to compliment the Perfection Line, and Kreider is a proven goal scorer who plays a power forward-style of hockey. He's hit the 20-goal mark in five of the last six seasons, including 24 tallies for the Rangers this season. The Avalanche have been hit hard by injuries, and the latest casualty was top-six forward Mikko Rantanen.

Both the Bruins and Avalanche have a really good chance to win the Stanley Cup this season, so it would behoove these teams to make a hard push for Kreider before the deadline.

Boston, in particular, needs to make some sort of impactful move at the deadline. The Bruins' three main competitors in the Eastern Conference -- the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals -- all have made at least one trade over the last two weeks. It would be a really bad look, and just poor management, to not give this Bruins team -- which owns the league's best record -- the additional depth needed for another lengthy playoff run.

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

NHL rumors: Could Chris Kreider reach extension with Rangers before trade deadline?

NHL rumors: Could Chris Kreider reach extension with Rangers before trade deadline?

All eyes will be on the New York Rangers as Monday's NHL trade deadline nears.

Rangers winger Chris Kreider is the top player rumored to be available, but there's no guarantee New York trades him. Kreider is in the prime of his career with a contract that expires at the end of this season. The Rangers have a couple options to consider. One is trading Kreider for a package of draft picks and players. Another is to keep him and risk losing a valuable player for nothing in July. A third is signing him to an extension.

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What are the chances of Kreider and the Rangers coming to terms on an extension? Here's what longtime Rangers reporter Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote Sunday:

While contract talks are ongoing between management and the pending free-agent winger’s camp, it’s probably about 50-50 that Kreider and the Blueshirts will agree to a long-term contract over the next week in which the team plays Wednesday in Chicago, Friday in Carolina and Saturday at home against the Sharks, two days prior to the Feb. 24 deadline.

Later in Brooks' story, he writes, "It is believed that the Blueshirts would be willing to go six years, but perhaps not at as much as $7 million per."

TSN reported Tuesday the Bruins and Colorado Avalanche have emerged as frontrunners for a Kreider trade. He would be a huge addition for both teams.

The Bruins are in need of secondary scoring behind the Perfection Line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Kreider also is from Boxford, Mass., and played at Boston College for three seasons. The Avalanche are dealing with injuries to key players, including star forward Mikko Rantanen, who is expected to miss multiple weeks. Other teams including the defending champion St. Louis Blues reportedly have shown interest in Kreider.

There's more pressure on the Bruins to do something than the Avalanche. Several of Boston's top competitors in the Eastern Conference, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning, all made trades over the last two weeks to bolster their depth for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Haggerty: Bruins are in a pretty good cap situation before deadline