Since they are not front-runners in the Taylor Hall sweepstakes, could the Boston Bruins be eyeing Anaheim Ducks forward Rickard Rakell as a potential solution to their second line scoring woes?
Just over a week ago, it was reported here that the Bruins’ interest in Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli had intensified again after Bruins Director of Player Development and Player Personnel Coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner scouted back-to-back Kings games. That first game was a 4-2 loss to the Ducks for the Kings and according to one NHL source Sunday night, both the Bruins and Ducks have been scouting each other more often as of late.
“I’d say they’re definitely talking and if I’m the Bruins, Rakell is a guy I’m looking at for sure,” the source told Boston Hockey Now.
Considering the Ducks have had more than one staff member scouting the last three Bruins home games, including Ducks consultant to the general manager Dave Nonis, this does make sense. There’s no indication yet though if any actual offers have been made from either side. Still, Rakell could be exactly what the Bruins need on two fronts thanks to his versatility. The 26-year-old who was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (30th overall) can play both center and wing. He comes with a reasonable salary cap hit of $3.7 million for this season and the next two.
There is concern lately that Rakell has lost his scoring touch. After consecutive 30-goal seasons with 33 lamplighters in 2016-17 and 34 in 2017-18, he just 18 goals in 69 games last season and has just nine in 33 games this season. Some are wondering if Rakell has become more of a playmaker as he had more assists, 25, than goals last season, and now this season as well with 15 helpers. However, after a three-assist game in the Ducks 4-3 shootout win over the Rangers, he is second in points for the Ducks this season. Also, and with all due respect to Adam Henrique, Rakell would be playing with an elite center in David Krejci if he was dealt to Boston. Worse comes to worst, he could center the third line and the Bruins could use Charlie Coyle on Krejci’s right flank as they did in their 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers Saturday night. Coyle didn’t register a point but he was a presence in front of the net and racked up three shots. The space he created, helped Krejci and Jake DeBrusk each finish with a goal and an assist.
With the current Bruins lineup healthy, their primary focus is to ensure a 1-2-3, even 4, punch up the middle and they feel that have that with Patrice Bergeron-Krejci-Coyle-Sean Kuraly, but due to their secondary scoring woes, Coyle has been moved up to right wing on the second line and the move has proved to be effective each time. If the Bruins were to acquire Rakell and he couldn’t light the lamp more frequently but still was an effective playmaker then they could slot him in between Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen on the third line and let Coyle ride the right wing with Krejci and DeBrusk and maintain that desired center depth.
One thing, as it always seems to be the case, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is active in trade talks and while hoping the scoring depth issues get solved internally, isn’t going to wait until it’s too late to solve them externally. In the last two seasons, Sweeney acquired wingers Marcus Johansson and Rick Nash. Unfortunately Nash fought his last battle with concussions in 2018 but Johansson proved to be a key cog in the Bruins run to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.