Trade in any sport can go any direction. It could be lopsided, turn out well for both parties, or be the worst thing to happen. Not all trades involve draft picks and can affect players. The sport of hockey is known as the hockey trade. The off-season kicked off one of these trades between the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils when the Pavel Zacha for Erik Haula trade took place.
Pavel Zacha and Erik Haula Trade
The trade between the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils is a prime example of a hockey trade. Hockey trades are the best. But sometimes they can go poorly. An example of a bad trade is when the Edmonton Oilers traded Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson. That went better for the Devils than for the Oilers. Another recent memory that worked for both parties was when the Columbus Blue Jackets traded centre Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators for Seth Jones. Trades like these are meant to address a need and give to get. This offseason saw the Erik Haula trade. The Bruins moved him to the Devils for Pavel Zacha. Did this trade go poorly, or has it worked out so far?
The New Devil In Town
When the Devils acquired Erik Haula, there was a need to be met. The team has a young but stout top two centrepieces with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, but having a centre anchor the third line was a must. Haula was coming off one of his best seasons in recent memory. He was flanked by Hall and David Pastrnak and scored 18 goals, 26 assists, and 44 points in his last season with the Bruins.
This year he has one goal and five assists in 17 games played. But Haula is doing other little things that are making an impact. He has been a machine in the faceoff dot as he has won 61.6% of his faceoffs. In addition to that, his individual play has been stellar. Haula has a 62.23 CF%, an individual xGF of 10.82 and an xGF% of 64.72. The Devils, who already excel in the high-danger area, have 51 chances with him on the ice. He may not be getting the results on the scoresheet, but he is getting his looks.
Impact As A Linemate
Haula has helped elevate the play with his linemates. Lindy Ruff has had to shuffle the deck and Haula has spent time on two separate lines this season.
The first line he has been on has been with Miles Wood and Tomas Tatar. With Tatar and Wood, they have an xGF% of 76.2% (second best) and an xGF per 60 minutes with 5.38. The line also averages an xG against per 60 minutes of 1.68. In addition, as a line, they have not been on the ice for a goal against and have scored two. When it comes to depth production, this line has delivered for the Devils.
The other line he has played on has been the Devils top line. For Haula this must feel like a Christmas gift. The opportunity to play with Hughes and Jesper Bratt provides many opportunities. With Hughes and Bratt, they’ve been together for over 70 minutes. The trio has an xGF% of 61.5. In addition, they have generated 85 shot attempts (second on the team). Defensively they average an xGA per 60 minutes of 1.63. The trio has scored three goals together.
Both lines have been stellar defensively as well. With Haula as a linemate, they have limited the opposition and are suppressing chances. The impact he has had has seen both these lines have a Corsi For Percentage above 60% and have controlled the expected goal share. The results will come, but what he has done has been good for the Devils.
All Statistics Come From Money Puck
Entering the 2022-23 season for the Boston Bruins, plenty of questions surfaced. To begin the off-season, there was uncertainty regarding the centre position. Captain Patrice Bergeron‘s return was up in the air, and a reunion with David Krejci was never confirmed. With an aging core, Don Sweeney was looking to get younger. The one-for-one swap sees Zacha enter the lineup.
It was unfortunate for Zacha, having been drafted sixth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, the pressure was on him to perform well in New Jersey. He did not perform poorly per se, but he did not live up to the sixth overall selection and being the franchise centre at that time.
The Career Thus Far
Upon entering the league, he has consistently posted 20 points first three years and surpassed 30 points in each of the last three years. His final year in New Jersey was his best season with 15 goals, 21 assists, and 36 points.
This season with the Bruins he has three goals, six assists, and nine points. Zacha has one goal on the Powerplay and one goal that was the game-winner. He currently has the third-best Corsi For Percentage (55.71) and has an individual xG of 8.79. Good things happen when he is on the ice for the Bruins as he has been on the ice for 10 goals.
In addition to his individual play, he has slotted in on the penalty kill (22:45 minutes of penalty kill time). In that time he has been on the ice for a goal scored while short-handed. The biggest impact has been his face-offs. On the penalty kill, he has won 100% of his draws. However, at even strength, he has won 43.5% of his face-offs. Being able to play centre and wing gives head coach Jim Montgomery options within the lineup.
Alongside The Other B’s
Good things are always bound to happen when playing with Patrice Bergeron. On his line, they dominate the expected goals share with 81.8% and average an xGF per 60 minutes with 3.21. Together they have scored one goal. Given Bergeron was the centre, he was the winger in this case.
Being a two-dimensional player he had the chance to play centre. Zacha was flanked by Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak when second-line centre David Krejci went down with an injury. The line scored three goals and averaged 5.74 goals for per 60 minutes. Considering they had an xG% of 47.1%, they’ve exceeded expectations.
Now that the Bruins are back to being healthy, Zacha is now slotting next to Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic. The third line has the third-best xGF per 60 minutes with 3.24. Together they’ve only played 29 minutes of ice time, but the trio has been good when put together.
How Has The Trade Looked?
The Erik Haula trade has worked well for both sides. Each team has addressed a need within their lineup, and both players have adjusted fine. It is still early on, but considering both players have the ability to move up and down the lineup and play in all situations is comforting. It seems to be one of those hockey trades that has benefitted both teams.