If the latest report out of the Vancouver Canucks organization amid the J.T. Miller Sweepstakes, is true then virtually everyone on their roster is available via trade this season. As such, Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney should seriously consider a do-over of a trade that fell through last off-season to, finally, acquire Canucks winger Conor Garland.
Why? Because the right-handed, undersized forward can play both wings, possesses speed, agility and great hockey senses as well as positive on-ice and locker room energy. A basic, yet powerful, intangible (especially, these days, in light of hockey’s reckoning with it’s culture) that Garland exudes by the boatloads, case in point:
But also, if for — absolutely — no other reason, because he can do niftier-than-nifty things with the puck like this:
Conor Garland is a premier scoring winger
The 25-year old Scituate, MA native has been an offensive force everywhere he has played in his young NHL career so far. Through 201 NHL games, the 5-foot-10 and 165-pound winger has amassed 120 points (57 goals and 63 assists) and, much to my surprise, a plus-6 rating.
What is more, this season, the diminutive forward has 24 points (10 goals and 14 assists) and a plus-7 rating in 37 games, which is good for third-best in scoring on his team (despite being out sick with an undisclosed illness recently). A solid mid-season stat line that also bests every skater on the B’s right now who isn’t an established All-Star.
Prior to the NHL, though, Garland competed in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and racked up 328 points (104 goals and 224 assists) in 206 QMJHL games. Which, of course, also saw him string together two stellar breakout campaigns in 2014 and 2015, where he tallied 35+ goals and 89+ assists, consecutively.
Garland is available if Sweeney wants him and he should
Currently, the four-year NHL veteran’s contract with the Canucks pays the former 2015 draft pick a salary of $3.750M with an annual cap hit of $4.950M. So, at the moment, Garland is earning less than Jake DeBrusk despite outproducing him the last two seasons, while presently, being ahead of him in all major scoring categories this year.
And so, if the B’s actually want a legit, top-six secondary scoring winger for less money than they are paying to some Bruins forwards right now, then Conor Garland is exactly that. Not to mention, he already has a strong rapport with Boston’s second-line left-winger Taylor Hall from their days in Arizona, where they tore it up on the top line for one season playing together.
Of course, for me, this is but a small part of a grand plan to speak into existence a more optimal Bruins lineup I think would compete for Cups the next few number of years. A plan that, though it wouldn’t begin and end with Garland, make no mistake, would still work all the better with him part of the equation.