The fact that Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney didn’t acquire the physical bottom-pair defenseman Jacob Middleton at this year’s trade deadline is an abject failure. Especially now, in hindsight, that fill-in 2C Erik Haula has emerged as (at least for the time being) David Krejci’s true successor and the third-line is clicking on all cylinders, defense is literally the only area that requires reconfiguration still.
Josh Brown is a decent defenseman, but will it be enough for Boston Bruins?
It remains to be seen whether or not the blueliner Sweeney did acquire on deadline day, Josh Brown, is any good in a bottom-pair role. I mean, sure, the 6-foot-5 and 221-pound backliner eats tough guys a la Trent Frederic for breakfast.
However, be that as it may, his toughness and meanness do not negate the fact that the depth defenseman is likely good on the ice at little else. While fans are often the last ones to rely on for objective analysis of their players, it does not mean they’re never right, at least once in a while anyway.
Of course, one can’t blame this Ottawa Senators fan for his disappointment over Brown’s departure to Boston. Offensively, the 28-year old offers next to nothing with just 4 goals and 17 points in 165 NHL games. This season, he has just six assists in 46 games, many of which he has been a healthy scratch for in more than a handful of.
Even still, Brown’s on-ice performance may yet turn in his favor now that he is playing on a competent club, surrounded by competent leaders with high expectations. But even if he does, Brown is still not at the level, defensively, Middleton is right now, which is why the latter played top-4 minutes with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson in San Jose, while Brown was a spectator in Ottawa more often than not.
Jacob Middleton solidifies a Minnesota team even more than on the Bruins
However, if Bruins GM Don Sweeney had just traded for Middleton from San Jose for a draft pick (because mortgaging your future is what going “all-in” means) or a goalie, the B’s would be even better than they are now. And that is a very good thing in an Eastern Conference that is loaded with talent, playoff swagger, experienced goal-tending, and more offensive firepower.
And so, with the Minnesota Wild have gotten bigger, stronger, tougher, and nastier (Marcus Foligno, Jordan Greenway, Brandon Duhaime) with the addition of Middleton (and Nic Deslauriers as well), the Bruins better hope they don’t run into them in a Cup final.
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Indeed, because though the B’s are scrappy, they aren’t “big” and “bad” anymore, and the Wild are. Otherwise, it will be the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals for the Bruins all over and, I’m willing to bet my CharlieCard, that nobody in New England needs that kind of headache again.