Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney needs to trade defenseman Matt Grzelcyk for a bigger and better left-shot blueliner to pair with McAvoy.
So who should Sweeney be targeting? Well, definitely not John Klingberg as our very own Bryan Murphy laid out in a recent article due, in part, to the fact that the 29-year old Swede isn’t a lefty and would likely only be a rental. A sentiment shared by many fans, myself included and at least one mainstream Bruins reporter, Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston.
"“The Bruins have one of the worst prospect pools in the league, which means most other teams have better assets to pull off these kinds of deals. They’ve also traded first-round picks in 2018 and 2020, and it doesn’t make sense to give up another this season unless the player coming back is not a rental.”"
And so, the answer then (a surprise to absolutely no one), is none other than Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes. Selected just two spots after McAvoy in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Chychrun has come into his own over the past few seasons in the desert.
Matt Grzelcyk could potentially replace a prospect in a trade for Chychrun
Ignore, for a moment, his stats this year on a god-awful Arizona team that sits dead last in the Western Conference. The 23-year old Boca Raton, FL native has just two goals so far this season after scoring 12 and 18, respectively, the previous two, and holds one of the worst plus-minus ratings in the league at a gaudy -29.
Chychrun is a high-valued asset that is coveted in the NHL: a left-handed, two-way defenseman with youth, size, a premium skill set and a team-friendly contract. Any offer from Sweeney will include first-round draft picks as that is the asking price from Arizona. But throwing in an NHL-proven player like Grzelcyk would strengthen it all the more.
This allows the Bruins to circumvent their near-anemic farm system altogether as the top prospects they have within it are few and far between. Prospects (i.e. Fabian Lysell, Mason Lohrei, Brett Harrison and Brady Lyle) they will undoubtedly need for rebuilding purposes the millisecond Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask hang up their skates.
At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Chychrun is in that sweet spot for young defenseman in terms of his physical build. What is more, he has demonstrated an offensive side to his game which shouldn’t be surprising considering he put up 82 points in 104 career games in the OHL. The Bruins have not had a scoring defenseman who is a legit threat every time he enters the offensive zone in decades and Chychrun has as much total goals (46) as McAvoy and Grzelcyk do combined.
But what is potentially the most appealing about him to the Bruins’ front office? His cap-friendly contract with three more years at $4.6 million. It is slightly more than Grzelcyk’s three years at $3.7 million per season, but the immediate upgrade and impact to the team should (and would) be obvious.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I am just feeling nostalgic after seeing Zdeno Chara drop the gloves the other night, but we need some size and a big left-handed shot on our blue line. Now, Grizz is a really good player, so much so that he just tied Bruins legend Ray Bourque for the team record for most points in a game by a defenseman with five over a week ago against Washington. A hell of an achievement, considering Bourque, statistically, is the greatest Bruin to ever live.
But the B’s, for all of their talk to “win-now,” are hanging by a thread to the last wildcard spot in a conference that seemingly got light-years better overnight (i.e. Florida, I saw coming, but Carolina??!). Difficult decisions need to be made, folks, because this team is going nowhere without a legitimate top defensive pairing.
And right now, the Black and Gold are just not good enough without it, and will remain as such, until said missing piece is acquired.