The importance of the 2021 NHL trade deadline cannot be understated. The Boston Bruins are at a critical moment in the history of their franchise. They are nearing the end of their Stanley Cup window. The losses of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug have clearly injured this team’s ability to win games as they currently sit at fourth place in their division. While they have played fewer games than every other team in the league, there are bigger concerns about this team than in years prior. Don Sweeney will have big decisions to make in the coming weeks.
Deciding the Direction of the Boston Bruins
The trade deadline is a day that can make or break teams. This year is the one with the most risk that the Bruins have approached in recent years. There are plenty of holes on the roster that need to be filled. Logically, that would mean that trading away draft picks or prospects to fill those holes. That may not be the best decision for this team. The cupboard is bare when it comes to Boston prospects in terms of quality. In fact, the Athletic recently ranked Boston’s prospect pool dead last in the entire NHL. If Sweeney decides to make a move, it comes with extreme risk.
What Gaps Need to be Filled
The Bruins have one of the best top lines in the NHL. That is undisputed. But after that, there is a major drop-off. Jake Debrusk has been awful and inconsistent all season long. He has simply failed to produce offence to the point of being benched. David Krejci has one goal in 25 games. Both of these players are guys who the team relies upon to generate scoring opportunities. This has been an issue for Boston for years. It is now more apparent than ever that they won’t be able to win big games if they don’t bring in better secondary scoring.
Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, and Brandon Carlo are just about the only three Bruins defencemen who can consider themselves locks for the lineup every night. Jakub Zboril has been given similar consideration but is still somewhat unproven. Everyone else could get healthy scratched on any given night. The Bruins have been considered one of the better defensive teams in the NHL for years. With a defensive core as depleted as this one, there are legitimate concerns. They need to add defencemen in order to make themselves a bonafide threat to make a playoff run. As of right now, they have a revolving door of defencemen filling out the remaining spots.
As I mentioned before, Boston does not have any prospects who are considered to be future top-line players. Johnny Beecher is arguably their best prospect and he figures to be a second-line player at best. Outside of him, they have very few players of note. If Don Sweeney elects to trade picks for NHL calibre players at the 2021 trade deadline, he is taking a huge risk. While they need to bring in more talent to win it all this year, it could be at the expense of their entire future. If Boston wins the Stanley Cup this year, it will all be worth it. But the future is already bleak for this team. Trading away picks or prospects to make this year’s run possible would cripple that future even further. While fans would surely love to see Patrice Bergeron raise the Stanley Cup over his head at the end of the season, you have to wonder what would come next.
This Risk Needs to be Taken
Let’s face it. Regardless of what happens this season, the Boston Bruins are probably headed down a dark path in a few seasons anyway. They don’t have many top-tier prospects and some of their best players will be declining significantly over the next few years. Making a deadline trade is a risk that needs to be taken. What has all of this success been worth if you walk away without a Stanley Cup at the end? Simply put, its not worth much. If this team is going to be bad in a few years, you might as well be really bad and try to earn yourself some top tier draft choices. Use the 2021 trade deadline to your advantage so you can walk away with a title at the end of this window. But be prepared for some bad years to come.