With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching next week, some Bruins fans have taken to social media to posit what the B’s, realistically, can do within the limits of their asset pool and cap space.
Despite the fact that several names on (and not on) this list are out with major injuries (i.e. Jakob Chychrun, Connor Murphy and now Andrew Copp), the free agents Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney should acquire on deadline are still many.
Indeed, and while $7.4 million in cap space is a decent number, it’s not, say, $15 million, and is why avoiding big-name players is the road Sweeney ought to travel on next Monday. But not to simply tweak the roster, because tweaking won’t get it done, but rather to bolster it. In fact, enough so that after March 21st, the B’s revamped lineup looks as much as possible as something like this:
F1: Marchand – Bergeron – Rakell
F2: Hall – Hertl – Pastrnak
F3: Crouse – Coyle – Smith
F4: Sanford – Nosek – Lazar
Rickard Rakell is the 1st line RW the Bruins need right now
It is true, Jake DeBrusk has been okay this season (25 points and a -2 rating in 55 games), but only just, nevertheless, he continues to be way too inconsistent offensively. The kid even seems to have stymied the nucleus of the top forward line as of late.
As such, the versatile Swedish forward Rickard Rakell of the Anaheim Ducks would be a great addition to the Perfection Line on the right flank. While far more of a two-way player than David Pastrňák, Craig Smith and DeBrusk will ever be, the top line won’t miss their sniping presence (or, in the latter’s case, lack thereof) because the 28-year old Swede has all the proven shooting skill to make up for it.
In fact, the two-time 30+ goal-scorer has, to his name, a total of 154 goals in 550 NHL games, and this year, is on pace for his fourth career season with 20 goals or more. And so, if acquired next Monday by Sweeney, the 10-year NHL veteran’s two-way style but shoot-first mentality is likely to gel well with the dynamic of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
Lawson Crouse is cheap, available, and Bruins’ third line could use him
Understandably, this trade proposal will get lots of pushback due to the third line clicking on all cylinders as of late. However, if an opportunity to improve an already good thing shows itself, common sense would and should dictate, if not demand, one to act on it. Well, that very situation has come to life because, while winger Trent Frederic has seemingly found his place on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Smith, a former 2015 1st round draft pick is breaking all the way out of his shell this season.
Bottom-six forward Lawson Crouse of the Arizona Coyotes has been on a bit of a tear this season with a career-high 32 points (19 goals and 13 assists) in 59 games. The 6-foot-4 and 220-pound power winger plays a physical game, evident by his 170 hits (which is among the most in the league currently), and possess a scoring touch (55 goals and 108 points in 340 games), even as a fourth-liner.
In fact, this is now the 24-year old’s third NHL season with at least 10 or more goals and 25 or more points. And so, now that Crouse seems to have finally put it all together this year, his big-bodied fore-checking and accurate shooting services would be much better served on a team that has (other than a future in the NHL) an actual shot at winning.
If, of course, the Bruins still have cap space after the other trades, they should finally bring Zach Sanford home
Ottawa Senators winger Zach Sanford is (along with Conor Garland) one of the few Massachusetts-born NHL players B’s fans should want on the team because he is actually good. At 6-foot-4 and 207-pounds, the 27-year old bottom-six winger is as much known for throwing big body checks as he is for throwing punches, both of which he does well.
In fact, the Salem, MA native was one of the many big and hard-hitting players on the 2019 Stanley Cup-winning St. Louis Blues team that beat the Bruins in 7 games. The ex-Boston College Eagle even scored the goal that was the final nail in the coffin for the B’s in that 7th game, at the TD Garden, no less.
This season, as a fourth line winger, Sanford has contributed 17 points (9 goals and 8 assists) in addition to 53 blocks, 124 hits, and 25 takeaways in 59 games on a bad Senators team. Moreover, this will likely be the third time in his five-year career that he hits and/or exceeds the 10-goal and 20-point plateaus.
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With numbers like that, coupled with Nick Foligno’s age/decline in play, Sanford as a Bruin makes all the sense in the world, which is saying something, because they all do.