NHL trade deadline

Hagg Bag: Assessing the Bruins after the NHL trade deadline

Hagg Bag: Assessing the Bruins after the NHL trade deadline

The Bruins now have their team together following the trade deadline and they hold a comfortable lead over the rest of the NHL as favorites for the President’s Trophy. It’s really all coming together for the Black and Gold in fine fashion after getting through the difficulty of five sets of back-to-back games in February and pushing toward that final regular-season sprint.

The trade rumors are done with and Bruins fans’ roster improvement plans will have to resume over the summer. For now, it’s about answering questions facing the current roster down the stretch and gearing up for a playoff run with some high expectations given last season’s run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

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The Bruins have played all season like they’ve got some unfinished business based on what happened last year in the Cup Final and pretty soon they’ll be able to see if they can get back there for the second year in a row. For now, here’s the Hagg Bag mailbag and as always these are real questions from real fans on Twitter using the #HaggBag hashtag, messages to my NBCS Facebook fan page and emails to my @jhaggerty@nbcuni.com email address.

Now on to the bag:


Tyler Toffoli got traded for a 2nd round pick, Tim Schaller (who they waived), conditional 4th round pick. Vincent Trocheck got traded for four guys who are really nothing players. Where the heck was Sweeney? How did he not get either of these players?


Malden, MA

JH: Toffoli got traded for a second-round pick, Schaller, a fourth-round pick and a blue-chip prospect at Northeastern named Tyler Madden. That’s a lot for a rental right wing that the Bruins would potentially lose beyond this season. If it was just a draft pick for Toffoli, then I would have done it if I were the Bruins, but I think that was too high of a price. I also don’t think they’d have been able to unload the David Backes contract if they hadn’t done the Ondrej Kase deal. I’m not mad about that one if I was a Bruins fan.

As far as Trocheck goes, I’d take it as a big warning sign that the Panthers were willing to trade him to a Carolina team they are battling with for a playoff spot. Florida wasn’t in sell mode at the deadline. They just wanted to get rid of a player in Trocheck who hasn’t been the same guy since injuring his ankle a couple of years ago. I also heard rumblings that Joel Quenneville and Trocheck might not have got along in Florida for what it’s worth, so put it together and I think that was a pretty good player to stay away from if you’re the Bruins

Here’s the best way to look at the trade deadline, in my opinion. Chris Kreider signed with the Rangers, so he wasn’t available. Kyle Palmieri wasn’t moving from the New Jersey Devils. Those were the two big targets for the Bruins if they became available. With those two off the board, I think the Bruins did as well as they could have given that they A) had Ilya Kovalchuk pick the Capitals over them and B) weren’t going to give up a first-round pick for Blake Coleman when he went to the Lightning.

Haggs, will John Grzelcyk be the Bruins emergency back-up goalie?

--Steve Napolitano (via NBCS Facebook message)

JH: I love Gryz. He’s the best and I’ve heard great things about him as a coach working with the kids at Belmont Hill back in the day, too. But I think the days of Bruins goalie coach Bob Essensa or Gryz serving as an EBUG are over. The emergency backup goalie for the Bruins most nights is former Salem State College netminder and current Mass State Trooper Keith Segee, and some other nights its former Stonehill goaltender Chris Tasiopoulos among others. 

Those guys are in their 20’s and 30’s and that’s actually part of what the NHL may be looking to regulate moving forward after 42-year-old David Ayres became a folk hero for the Carolina Hurricanes. It may be that they require the EBUGs to all be under 40 years old, which may not be the worst thing in the world given that injuries become more of a factor for the practice goalies as they go up in age.

Is it too late to go after [Jean-Gabriel] Pageau or Toffoli, like they should have? Maybe next year, because it's not like this core is getting old. Also, does Jake DeBrusk know he's in a contract year? He's even more streaky than Krejci

--Joseph Isodoro (via NBCS Facebook message)

JH: Given what the Isles gave up for Pageau and what it cost to sign him (six years, $30 million) it’s a hard pass on a guy that’s a very good third line center. The Canucks gave up quite a bit for Toffoli, so it’s okay that they didn’t go that route either.

As far as DeBrusk goes, he’s on a pace for 23 goals and 44 points and that would be a career-high in points for the left winger. The goals would be down a little bit from last season, but he’s right in line with what he’s done in his other two NHL seasons. At this point, he kind of is what he is. He’s a streaky scorer with pretty good skating speed and a good shot who isn’t going to consistently bring much of anything else to the table. He’s not really physical, he’s really not much of a playmaker and he’s certainly not going to dig in defensively in a way that’s going to make anybody stand up and take notice.

He gets better in the physicality and defense department when he’s going well offensively, but that’s not a great thing when he’s in the middle of a slows stretch as he is now with zero goals, zero points and a minus-6 rating in his past nine games. He’s been all-around terrible for almost a month and that’s not good.

But he’s also got three consecutive seasons of 20 goals and 40 plus points on his resume provided he finishes this season decently, and that’s going to get him paid either way. DeBrusk isn’t going to get the three-year, $17 million-plus contract that Brock Boeser – a fellow winger from his draft class – ended up signing in Vancouver, but a three-year, $15 million isn’t out of the question. 

His numbers aren’t that far off from what Boeser and fellow young wingers Kyle Connor and Alex DeBrincat have done in the NHL. The real comparable for DeBrusk, though, is 22-year-old fellow 2015 draft product Travis Konecny, who signed a six-year, $33 million contract paying him $5.5 million per season with the Flyers in December. 

The numbers are going to be very comparable between DeBrusk and Konecny when he heads to the negotiating table this summer, so he’s looking at potentially getting something in that range.

Are you ready for the playoffs?

--Stewart-Allen Clark (@StewartAllenC1)

JH: Yes. Do we have to wait another month? You know what’s really going to get people amped for the Stanley Cup playoffs? The Bruins have two regular-season showdowns left with the Tampa Bay Lightning over the next six weeks and those are going to be absolute grudge matches and statement games ahead of the postseason. That will be playoff hockey before we get playoff hockey, baby.

Isn’t the real issue here, why the Leafs, with all that fire power, couldn’t get more shots on a 42-year-old EBUG?

--Edmonton Wild (@edmonton_wild)

JH: Yes, the real issue here is that something doesn’t become a problem until it impacts the Toronto Maple Leafs, and then the media machine gets going up there. The truth is there is no issue with the EBUGs. At this point. the only thing that should be done is that they should be paid to serve as emergency backups instead of simply getting free tickets to the game, and they should be guaranteed medical coverage if they get hurt doing the job at practice, or in the unlikely event they are called into a game.

People think these are plumbers and IT specialists getting called into the game from the stands like somebody calling for a doctor in a crowd. Nope. Most of these EBUGs already practice with these teams on occasion and are uniquely equipped to handle the shots and situations they’re going to see in the NHL just like Scott Foster in Chicago and David Ayres with Carolina. There is nothing wrong or broken with the system.

#Haggbag Do you think Kase is Sweeney’s 2nd line RW answer or is it possible the cap space clearance will mean he will sign a legitimate top 6 forward on July 1?

--Tyler (@TylerBrewsBeer)

JH: I think Kase is going to get every opportunity to win the second-line right wing job and be that guy headed into next season. Who knows? If he stays healthy, he may be able to do it. He showed good skating speed and an ability to create his own shot in his debut on Thursday night, but we’re going to have to see a more from the 24-year-old before the team can make a determination on him moving forward. 

With Torey Krug and DeBrusk up this summer, they aren’t going to have the extra cap space to go out and get a big name this summer. They just won’t. So, Kase will get every chance to be a top-six guy and I’m sure Nick Ritchie will get some looks there as well.

What does Coach Cassidy have to do to prove he’s one of, if not, the best coaches right now? Cuz he has been pure money for the B’s since taking over for Claude. Jack ADAMS chances high or low for him? #HaggBag

--Thomas Deon (@tdeon26)

JH: No argument here. There may be times that the Bruins tip a little too much toward the speed and skill game rather than good, old-fashioned Bruins hockey, but that’s a reflection of the way the game is changing as much as it's about any kind of tone set down from the coach. 

Cassidy has the good sense to lean quite a bit on Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron to address things that pop up in the dressing room and that’s a great situation to be in for a coach. The 256 wins and .680 winning percentage in three-plus seasons really say it all with the Bruins, and the trip to the Stanley Cup Final last season was another piece for Cassidy.

Now, he just needs to win it all with the Bruins and continue to fully develop some of the younger players that still aren’t quite at their highest level of potential right now. As for the Jack Adams Trophy, we all know this is given to teams that make turnarounds from the previous season and that’s an impossible task for a team that was in the Stanley Cup Final last season.

My guess on Jack Adams: I’d give Mike Sullivan consideration based on all the injuries that Pittsburgh has had, and Travis Green is doing a nice job with the Canucks. I think Rick Bowness is doing great with the Dallas Stars as well.

Why is Hollywood obsessed with casting tall handsome guys as wolverine?

--Bill Mac (@drmayonaisse)

JH: Because it’s Hollywood? As much as it's difficult to see a 6-foot-3 acting hunk playing Wolverine, I think the idea that Danny DeVito should have played Wolverine is downright laughable too. Nobody wants to see that. I’d rather see Henry Cavill play Superman again for a director that actually appreciates the character, but I don’t hate the idea of him playing Wolverine. He could certainly handle the action part of it and Hugh Jackman proved that it can be done. I’m just excited at the prospect of the X-Men coming to the MCU while knowing that it’s on the horizon.

Bruce Cassidy on Bruins' loss to Calgary: 'They didn't break a sweat, some of them'

Bruce Cassidy on Bruins' loss to Calgary: 'They didn't break a sweat, some of them'

BOSTON – Sometimes a team plays with renewed energy and vigor in the first game with new players added after the NHL trade deadline.

And sometimes a team lays an egg despite the addition of new trade pieces as everybody searches for the right fit while moving on from the players dealt away ahead of the very same deadline. 

The Bruins were much more the former when they played a flat, “sleepy” game that ended with a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames Tuesday night at TD Garden.

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It was the second loss in a row for a team that on Saturday night provided very little resistance in a rudderless, 9-3 blowout at the hands of the Canucks and left their coach wholly unimpressed after the loss to the Flames.

“[It was] clearly not good enough. I thought some guys came to play and some guys didn’t. [Some guys] didn’t break a sweat, some of them it looked like,” said Bruce Cassidy, right out of the gate after a game where the Bruins never held the lead. “I’m sure there was effort [and that] they were trying. They were just in-between, couldn’t execute or whatever. At the end of the day, it wasn’t good enough.”

Certainly, those direct words from Cassidy aren’t meant to be a pretty pointed message to the passengers on a  Bruins team that had just watched Danton Heinen get shipped off 24 hours prior to the Calgary game.

The Bruins coach could have pointed out plenty of things that were lacking, whether it was the rare, poor overall game from the Perfection Line aside from Brad Marchand’s shorthanded goal, or the lack of resistance from too many good players when Calgary scored the back-breaking fourth goal in the third period. 

On that one, David Krejci didn’t do enough on the back-check, Tuukka Rask left the five-hole wide open for Mikael Backlund and David Pastrnak never really got things going as the NHL’s leading scorer.

Surely, the just-concluded trip to Western Canada could be used as a travel-weary excuse by the Black and Gold, but those excuses should be pushed by the wayside for a team with big-time Stanley Cup playoff aspirations.

“We weren’t at our best for sure. We didn’t have it all the way through the game. We were a little sleepy, I guess, at times,” said Marchand, whose shorthanded tally tied it in at 1 in the second period before two more second-period Flames goals allowed Calgary to pull away. “It wasn’t our normal, upbeat, high-energy game, but it’s going to happen during an 82-game schedule. You’re not going to be perfect and unfortunately, we didn’t get this one.”

The Bruins will quickly dust off that performance, be happy that the Tampa Bay Lightning also lost so they stay five points behind Boston in the Atlantic Division and instead focus on getting the intensity back against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.


Is Nick Ritchie a better player than Danton Heinen?

Is Nick Ritchie a better player than Danton Heinen?

The Boston Bruins didn't make the big splash that some Bruins fans were hoping that they'd make ahead of the NHL trade deadline. But they did make a smaller move to fill a need ahead of their 2020 postseason run.

Before the deadline passed, the Bruins made another trade with the Anaheim Ducks. After trading for Ondrej Kase on Friday, they were able to swing a deal that brought Nick Ritchie to the Bruins and sent Danton Heinen to the Ducks.

In the wake of the trade, there was some debate about if the Bruins actually got an upgrade for their team. That was a hot topic on NBC Sports' NHL trade deadline show, and our own Joe Haggerty and DJ Bean debated the merits of the trade.

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Bean, for one, was not impressed with the deal and actually thought that Ritchie was a downgrade for the team.

Is he better than Danton Heinen? No. Danton Heinen hasn't even been that good, and you still downgraded. This was a salary dump, I understand you want to save money and you do save money and you get some of the money back that you're paying to get rid of David Backes along with a first-round pick and a prospect. Now you're basically giving away your first-round pick, a prospect, and Danton Heinen and are getting a fourth-liner back.

Haggerty fought back against that notion, saying that Ritchie may actually find a way to impact the game, something that Heinen struggled to do all too often during his time with the Bruins.

How on God's green earth is Danton Heinen better than Nick Ritchie when Ritchie has more goals, averages more points per game and has twice as many hits? He's actually someone you notice during the game from time to time throwing a hit or actually putting his body in front of the net. We never notice Danton Heinen doing anything when we watch him play.

There will only be one way to actually know which player will end up fitting in better with the Bruins. And that will involve seeing how Ritchie fares for the B's and how they do without Heinen.

For more of Haggerty, Bean, and Tom Giles' thoughts on the NHL trade deadline, check out the video above or head over to YouTube to watch the full clip.