The chips have fallen on the first major trade of the month and we must wonder whether it changes anything for the Boston Bruins?
In all fairness to the Toronto Maple Leafs, their addition of a backup goalie and a gritty bottom-line winger didn’t exactly shake many feathers in the league. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ addition of Jason Zucker did. From that deal we can draw some conclusions as to what kind of market the Boston Bruins will be operating in.
In Jason Zucker, the Pittsburgh Penguins added a top-six forward with 14 goals and 15 assists for the Minnesota Wild this season. More importantly, he’s a 28 year-old with three years left on his contract, costing $5.5 million per season. Zucker’s best NHL season was two years ago, when he scored 33 goals, adding 31 assists for good measure.
Going the other way was Alex Galchenyuk, who is on an expiring $4.9 million deal. The versatile forward joins his fourth NHL club at age 25. His best season was back in the 2015-16 campaign where he put up 30 goals and 26 assists for the Montreal Canadiens.
Along with Galchenyuk was the Penguins’ first round draft pick and 19 year-old defensive prospect Calen Addison, who currently has 40 points in 36 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League.
What does all of this mean for the Boston Bruins?
Well, simply put it sets the market for players with term. If the Boston Bruins pursue a trade for Ondrej Kase, for example, the Anaheim Ducks will be able to command just that little bit more given he has the extra year on top of this season.
It also all but guarantees the cost of acquiring Chris Kreider, if that were pursued, is going to be the Bruins’ first round pick. Given that the Penguins gave up both a strong prospect and a top-six (on his day) player as well as their first-round pick, the market is set very high.
Chris Kreider has better points totals year-on-year and offers something slightly different to both Zucker and Galchenyuk in terms of physicality. Given we’re headed towards the play-offs, the New York Rangers will absolutely pursue our first round pick as they know they’re dealing from a position of strength, much as Bill Guerin in Minnesota was.
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The next question is whether the Boston Bruins should be willing to commit to such high prices?
Given that our form thus far this season has gotten us this far already, top of the NHL no less, you have to wonder whether adding a player at the cost of future assets really changes the end-of-year outcomes that much.
As bold as Jim Rutherford in Pittsburgh is; I don’t think Don Sweeney should be looking to emulate him. Phil Kessel worked for a while with the Penguins and they were lucky enough to deal him away for an asset that eventually turned into Zucker, however in the course of doing so, they continue to mortgage their future.
Better to leave the prospect cupboards at least somewhat stocked rather than let them run bare in the hope of immediate glory. Just ask the Columbus Blue Jackets how that panned out last year!
This deal absolutely does affect the Boston Bruins moving forward, but then again, it affects all other teams in the league equally as well.