Some Trades the Boston Bruins Should Consider to Improve
The Boston Bruins are 41% through the COVID-19, 56-game 2021 NHL schedule. That is enough games to make some comfortable evaluations in light of no preseason and a 10-day training camp. They currently sit fourth in the Eastern Division just one point out of fifth and being out of the playoffs entirely. After a 10-1-2 start to the season, they have slipped to 3-5-2 since. Be it injuries, lack of secondary scoring, or inexperience, there is a lot of blame to go around. If they want to maintain themselves as a favourite for the Stanley Cup, Boston Bruins trades are needed now.
It is easy to fall back on the age-old excuse of injuries for the Bruins. After all, they will be without three of their top-six defenceman, Brandon Carlo (head), Jeremy Lauzon (broken hand), and Kevan Miller (lower-body). However, Carlo has missed just three games. And both Jeremy Lauzon and Kevan Miller would be considered bottom pair players on any contending team.
Surely the reserves can fill in the short term, right? Apparently not. The combinations of Connor Clifton, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, and Steven Kampfer have been FAR from adequate. So much so, Boston picked up Jarred Tinordi off waivers from Nashville and has inserted him directly into the lineup. The 6′-2″, 220 pound Tinordi had played a total of 91 games in the NHL since entering the league in 2012. All this to say that the current pieces missing cannot be considered the key cogs in the Bruins’ machine.
Overcoming Injury and Missing Personnel
All teams need to overcome injury and missing personnel. Especially this year, with the added unknown of NHL COVID protocols. The Washington Capitals sit four points ahead of Boston despite having lost Evgeny Kuznetsov for 10 games. Alex Ovechkin also missed four games as well as Dmitry Orlov. Tom Wilson is on a seven-game suspension.
They even lost BOTH starting goalies. Ilya Samsonov has started just five games, and Henrik Lundqvist was lost for the entire season due to emergency heart surgery. They have found a way. The Philadelphia Flyers, another division rival have also endured losses to Claude Giroux, Selke Trophy winner Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny. Those are pretty big names compared to Lauzon and Miller. The Flyers are just one point behind the Bruins. It has to be something deeper than just injuries.
Bruins Lack of Experience
Going into the 2021 season Boston made a decision to move away from veterans Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara. The plan was to go with a younger group of defencemen in Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, and Matt Grzelcyk. That group, along with taxi squad youngsters Connor Clifton and Urho Vaakanainen have not filled in the holes left by Krug and Chara.
The Bruins have a lack of experience at the back, which is paramount to sustained success in the NHL. The skills honed from going through the grind of several NHL seasons and playoffs. The young forward players, Jake Debrusk, Trent Frederic, and Jack Studnicka, have likewise struggled to find their NHL legs this year. They have a combined five goals and seven assists in the 54 games they have played.
DeBrusk was expected to be the second-line left winger, but has regressed. Frederic has given them a boost in toughness, but really lacks any sort of scoring prowess. Jack Studnicka just does not appear ready for the role(s) he is being forced into. The Bruins need to make trades to acquire help and improve the issues with this and the secondary scoring.
The Boston Bruins are 21st in the NHL in goals per game (2.78). Mind-boggling when you consider the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak have managed 32 goals and 71 points in 23 games. And Pastrnak has missed seven games. The rest of the forwards have 27 goals combined. Even worse, this group has just 19 even-strength goals in 23 games. With players like David Krejci, Charlie Coyle, and Craig Smith, you would expect these numbers to be much higher. Boston needs to trade for a bonafide scoring threat on the offence. Even then, the problems run much deeper than scoring upfront. They are also not getting any help offensively from their defence.
Lack of Offence From the Defence
Like Boston’s top forward line, it is Charlie McAvoy who is providing all the offence from the Bruins’ defence. He has three goals and 14 assists in his 23 games with the black and gold. The rest of the defence? Two goals (both by Carlo) and 22 assists in their 115 combined games played. The brunt of the scoring naturally needs to come from the offence, but defence is part of secondary scoring.
The puck movement out of the defensive zone just hasn’t been sharp. And there is too much fear and inexperience to move from the offensive blueline. There needs to be more of a threat from the point to keep teams honest up top, which makes it easier for the forwards down low. The Bruins need to make a trade to improve this situation.
Potential Trade Targets
So, what are these Boston Bruins trades that need to be made? The list of potential trade targets and rumour mill fodder is a long one. Here are our top five defencemen and wingers the Bruins should target.
Defencemen Left/Right Wing
An add from both of these lists would go a long way to solving the Bruins’ current issues. Making trades is never easy and you have to give something to get something. Debrusk, Studnicka, Vaakaineinen, and Frederic are all names that would likely face a move. You can add first and second-round picks to the mix as well. That is the price of choosing to go all-in to win Lord Stanley’s big tin can.
Bruins At a Crossroad
The Boston Bruins are at a crossroad in their season. They have the high-end talent in their topline and McAvoy, as well as elite goaltending in Tuukka Rask. Yet this year’s results have been inconsistent, given some injuries and lack of experience. Bergeron is 35 and Krejci will turn 35 in April. How many more runs do these horses have in them? Boston still remains a favourite to win the East Division. But if they want to make it back to their fourth Stanley Cup in final in the last 10 years, the Bruins need trades now.