Don Sweeney’s big acquisition on trade deadline day paid off in a big way. After a quiet end to the regular season due to injury, Marcus Johansson stepped up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The veteran forward racked up eleven points (4 g, 7 a) in 22 playoff games and was a key cog on Boston’s most consistent line.
On Saturday morning, Johansson officially ended his Bruin career. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as BHN reported in late June that Johansson was not expected back with the club. Johansson signed a two-year contract with Buffalo that will carry a very reasonable AAV of $4.5 million.
Johansson settled in nicely with Boston. He found a home on the wing with Charlie Coyle and, at times, current RFA F Danton Heinen. That trio, for a large portion of the postseason, was Boston’s best and most consistent forward line. Johansson’s loss will hurt Boston’s top-nine forward group. It will also open up a job for either a free agent, trade acquisition or prospect already in Boston’s system.
The Trade Route
The Bruins have continuously been connected to Edmonton Oilers F Jesse Puljujarvi this summer. Puljujarvi, the fourth overall pick in 2016, has requested a trade from the Oil and has no intention of playing for them again. According to reports, Edmonton has been attempting to tie Milan Lucic’s anchor contract to Puljujarvi. That would be a non-starter for a Boston team already stuck with David Backes.
Although Puljujarvi has yet to emerge, he’s a strong bet for a veteran club. With Boston’s leadership group and deep forward group, Puljujarvi could be groomed in a depth role and finally allowed to grow. He was never truly given the chance in Edmonton, but could thrive in a permanent role with Coyle and Heinen. A Puljujarvi trade would have huge home run potential for Boston.
Calgary’s Sam Bennett, currently a restricted free agent, could be an option as well. The Flames are pressed against the cap with key players such as Matthew Tkachuk to still sign. Their GM, Brad Treliving, has hinted that a trade is coming to accommodate his RFA’s. Bennett, another former fourth overall pick, has settled in nicely as a third line forward with the Flames. He scored 13 goals this past season.
Pat Maroon was a pain in the backside for Boston in the Stanley Cup Final. Maroon is still on the open market and is likely to leave the Blues, according to multiple reports. He made $1.75 million on a one-year deal a season ago. It stands to reason that Maroon would settle for another short contract at an affordable cap hit. The veteran winger would bring the needed physicality and depth scoring to Boston’s middle-six.
Jason Pominville is 36-years-old, but has scored 16 goals in each of the last two seasons. In search of his first Stanley Cup ring, the long-time Sabre could be a strong option for Boston. He’d provide leadership and depth scoring to a club in need of both with Johansson gone. He could also help Boston’s second powerplay unit.
Other free agent options include two-time 20-goal scorer Ryan Dzingel, Thomas Vanek, Tobias Rieder and Oscar Lindberg.
It’s unlikely Jack Studnicka is ready this October, but Boston does have options. Anders Bjork has yet to establish himself, but he’s got a strong shot and will finally be healthy come camp. His goal-scoring ability and NHL size make him a strong candidate to make the roster in October. He’s also a cheap option, which is important to a Boston club tight on cash.
Trent Frederic got his first taste of the NHL in 2018-19 and doesn’t appear far off. The only question is, can his offense be at a third line level in his rookie NHL season? There’s some debate if it can be. He’d bring the physicality needed, but the skill to play with Coyle is a real question mark.
Perhaps the underrated Oskar Steen, who will come to North America this fall, surprises people. Described as a “shifty player” who is “explosive” in small spaces, Steen could bring the desired speed and skill to the third line. It’s unclear if he’s ready for the NHL at this point. One thing that could favor him? He’s an older prospect at 21-years-old and has played against men in the SHL.