The NHL Trade Deadline has come and passed, and the Boston Bruins were one of the most active teams in the entire league.
Boston added forwards Rick Nash, Brian Gionta, and Tommy Wingels, along with defenseman Nick Holden, in the past week.
Ryan Spooner was the most significant loss on the Bruins’ roster after the deadline, with the B’s also moving Matt Beleskey, Frank Vatrano, Rob O’Gara, Ryan Lindgren, and draft picks including a first-rounder from this year.
So where does this leave Boston going forward?
A ton of credit should be given to GM Don Sweeney for the moves that were made. He added to his current roster without losing the current and future stars that the Bruins are stockpiled with. Spooner is a solid NHL player, and Lindgren could develop into a good defenseman in the future, but losing both of them does little to the present and future. Both Spooner and Vatrano had a multitude of chances to stick on this team, and neither produced the consistent play that would bump them up or ultimately keep them wearing the spoked B. Beleskey was a signing that never worked out, but being able to package him and get the return of a bonafide scoring threat like Nash has to be looked on as a huge plus.
An even bigger plus is that the Bruins still have control of the following prospects: Ryan Donato, Jakub Zboril, Zach Senyshyn, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Trent Frederic, Urho Vaakanainen, Jeremy Lauzon, Peter Cehlarik, and Ryan Fitzgerald. Not to mention the young guns that are currently with Boston – Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Andres Bjork (currently on IR), Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, and of course Charlie McAvoy. God the future is so bright in Boston.
Adding Nash demonstrates that Sweeney and the rest of the front office isn’t just resting on their laurels but are clearly going for it this season. They didn’t mortgage the future with any of their moves, and added a big time scorer in the process. Now Nash isn’t the same player that he used to be, but in just one game with zero practice, he already showed that he could be a huge weapon on the Bruins. Nash had five shots on goal – with another nearly putting a dent in the post – in almost 18 minutes of ice time on Sunday night against the Sabres just hours after switching teams. Seeing Nash on his wing must have made David Krejci’s eyes light up, as the veteran center has always thrived with a big body flanking him. Boston can’t always rely on their first line and their goaltending to win games, so having another scoring threat and someone that is not afraid to shoot the puck wherever and whenever they are located on the ice can be a game-changer down the stretch.
The other moves – signing Gionta and trading for Wingels and Holden – will likely be both depth pieces and to bring veteran voices into the locker room. Boston was riddled with injuries at the tail end of last season, and needed to bring up inexperienced defensemen just to fill their roster during their first round playoff series. While the B’s obviously have a multitude of youngsters that would be solid options for promotion late in the year, Boston loaded up with veterans who have playoff experience and can fill in during a rough stretch of games.
Boston entered Monday night playing the second-fewest games in the NHL, and have more games left – 22 – than days off – 20 – before hitting the playoffs. The B’s have already begun the process of trying to keep everyone fresh, as they shuffled the D pairs during their back-to-back losses on the weekend. Bringing up someone like Cehlarik, JFK, or Austin Czarnik – who are all having great seasons in Providence – for a pivotal late season game could be a huge risk. Those young players may be electric, but they could just as easily cost the Bruins a point or two that could determine home ice. Veterans like Gionta, Holden, and Wingels may not be flashy, but they are established and know what needs to be done to succeed. If injuries hit or someone just needs a breather, Boston could be in a much worse spot than they currently are with a veteran bench ready and at beckons’ call.
The Bruins were not supposed to be in the position that they are currently in. This was supposed to be a “bridge year” that developed the rookies and set the table for an extended period of prosperity. Many thought that the way Boston got out of the gates, with sketchy and inconsistent play for the first month or so, would likely be how the entire season went. Boston wasn’t expected to go on an epic clip like they did from mid-November to late February, when they amassed a RIDICULOUS 33-6-4 record. Now Boston is looked upon as a legit contender to win it all, which is at least two or three years ahead of schedule.
The moves that Boston made in the last few days added to those lofty expectations of the present, while doing nothing to the schedule of success for the future.
Regardless of how these additions pan out, it was a tremendous Trade Deadline for the Boston Bruins.
Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)