It looks like the Bruins may have dodged a bullet.
While the Bruins are 19-5-3, they haven’t exactly been playing well. Actually, they’ve been pretty horrible lately. They played well against Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburgh, yes, but can anyone find me any other game in the past month where they played a full 60 minutes and had a killer instinct? Didn’t think so.
The Bruins have very clear needs. They need a top six defenseman and a top 9 forward who, like Rich Peverley, can slide up and down the top 9 without any noticeable dip in production. Hell, I’d even go as far to say as they need a second line winger, because Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton just aren’t cutting it anymore. While it’s not for a lack of effort on Horton’s end, Lucic has been invisible for the majority of the season, leading me to the question: Why does he has such a massive contract after he had one good season?
Sure, there are the big names out there such as Jarome Iginla and Daniel Alfredsson, but let’s be real here. Calgary is just too damn stubborn to make any kind of move unless they’re stuck in last place, and Ottawa is still in the playoff picture. Many fans will have their fantasies about landing one of them, but it just isn’t going to happen.
Right now, it appears that the Bruins are on pace to make the playoffs and be bounced in the first, maybe second round, which, to the surprise of many who always peg them as Stanley Cup contenders. They may be contenders, but I wouldn’t put them in the same league as teams such as the Penguins, Ducks, or Blackhawks. They’re close, but are still a few pieces away from being a legitimate Cup threat.
I’ve managed to compile a list, albeit a short one, of players I believe the Bruins should be targeting for trades. These deals must come soon, before it’s too late and we hear Chiarelli talk about how the prices were too high.
- Ladislav Smid – This is my top choice in regards to defense. Smid is a highly underrated defender, likely due to the fact that he plays out in Edmonton, which is still hockey’s no man’s land. He’s big, and in a good way (6’3, 207 lbs). Smid is a strong shutdown defender with an edge (leads the Oilers in hits with 87). He’s the perfect candidate to shore up a struggling defense, and can block a lot of shots (leads Oilers with 78). Did I mention he’s a strong penalty killer, too?
- Brenden Morrow – The rugged winger has struggled this season, but it isn’t too far fetched to believe that a trade to Boston, couple with a pairing with new linemates, would rejuvenate him. When put with Jaromir Jagr and Jamie Benn, he played far better than he had been previously. This could be the guy they play on the second or third line who can shift up and down as needed without much dip in production.
- Jussi Jokinen – Jokinen has struggled this season, but that could be attributed to the fact that Carolina has been forced to play him at center due to the departure of Brandon Sutter in the Jordan Staal trade. The guy can score, there’s no doubt about that, but can he score enough to help the Bruins? With a change of scenery and a chance to play the wing, I certainly believe so.
If the Bruins act fast, they can help themselves both in the short term and the long term by making deals while the prices are still low. They can’t afford to sit back and make excuses; they must ensure that this team is prepared for a long playoff run. Otherwise, the team and the fans will fall victim to what is really the status quo of the Chiarelli era outside of 2011.