With the NHL regular season now in full swing for the Boston Bruins, now felt like a great time for another edition of the award-winning Hagg Bag mailbag. The Bruins are treading water without David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase already knocked out of the lineup, but there are probably more questions about their season outlook than answers at this point.
So, it’s a natural time to open up the mailbag and answer some questions from the best fan base in sports. As always, these are real questions from real Boston Bruins fans send to my twitter account using the #HaggBag hash tag and messages sent to my Facebook fan page.
Now, on to the Hagg Bag:
How could they be in on PLD? They have 3 tradeable comps. None of the others have any PLD-caliber upside. Besides, after seeing that clip of him floating around on his last shift, who’d want him?
–Bruce Lynch (@Bru8466)
JH: Yeah, the Bruins were never realistically going to be in on Pierre-Luc Dubois given that it took Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic to unseat him from Columbus. My partner-in-crime Jimmy Murphy confirmed as much on Friday night with NHL sources in the know. That’s the Bruins equivalent of David Pastrnak and Nick Ritchie, and something like that was never going to happen from a Bruins end of things. And your point is well-taken on that final shift with the Blue Jackets. I’ve worked harder than PLD did on that shift while ordering coffees at Dunkin’ Donuts.
I’ve worked harder than this ordering stuff off Amazon https://t.co/Mu5GyfFdkS
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) January 22, 2021
That should be a warning sign for a team like the Winnipeg Jets bringing him into the fold, particularly if he wanted to be in a bigger market in Columbus. Maybe PLD will simply be happy to be back in Canada, but I don’t think Winnipeg is ever going to be considered “big market.” Who knows? Maybe he just wanted to get away from John Tortorella.
The truth will come out, but I probably would shy away from giving up my best assets for a guy that could potentially be a problem in Pierre-Luc Dubois. The good thing for Winnipeg is that they wanted to get rid of Laine just as badly, so it seems to have all worked out for both teams.
Do you feel like the B’s management have backed themselves into a corner with their young players (i.e., Bjork, DeBrusk, Carlo, Vaakanainen)? It seems like if they don’t play well, then their value will be too low to trade them. On a scale of Marty Reasoner to Tomas Kaberle, how awesome is it going to be when WandaVision ties into Dr. Strange and really kicks off phase 4?!
–Tim Morrison (via Facebook fan page)
JH: I am Brad Isbister-level excited about where WandaVision is headed. I liked the first two episodes while appreciating the brilliance of what they did and I loved the third episode, probably because I grew up on the Brady Bunch vibe that they adopted for that episode. I’ve heard rumors of Mephisto being the villain and some other cool things happening during this season, so I am really looking forward to it after what’s absolutely been a slow build through the first three episodes.
As far as the Boston Bruins go, they are tied to those young guys for better or worse. That’s why it’s so important to hit on your draft picks. Jake DeBrusk is the only thing they really have of value from that 2015 Draft’s first round, so they are going to stick with him through thick and thin. And Carlo is a strong shutdown defenseman. Bjork is a good, useful player for a guy they selected in the middle rounds. I’m not a fan of Urho Vaakanainen and didn’t like him when he was the draft pick. The same with Trent Frederic’s selection in the first when they could have had Alex DeBrincat, but at least we’re seeing that Frederic might have the makings of a force on the bottom-6 forward group.
It all comes back to drafting and developing for the Boston Bruins, and their fortunes are going to rise and fall with that. I’d be a lot more concerned with some of the more recent drafts than I would be with the ones that produced DeBrusk, Bjork, Vaakanainen, Carlo, Lauzon, Zboril etc.
Glad were not part of this circus, why would you want a locker room problem while giving up quality players and possibly a 1st rounder? Obviously, not a team player
–Clovis Roy (@clovisroy1)
JH: The answer is Winnipeg. Because they had a player in Patrik Laine that they wanted to rid of equally because he was more interested in playing Fortnight than playing hockey. Maybe having a Finn in Columbus in GM Jarmo Kekalainen watching over him will help Laine focus on pucks, and they are absolutely excited about having Ohio native Jack Roslovic come back to Columbus. But the Jets now have a player motivated to repair his reputation and potentially feeling freed now that he’s escaped Columbus and Torts.
I totally understand why Winnipeg would take the chance on Pierre-Luc Dubois and give up the assets that they did. But it wouldn’t make sense for a team like the Boston Bruins with an established culture and high expectations for all their players. John Moore talked a few years ago about the “no dickheads” rule with the Black and Gold, and it’s absolutely the truth.
With the Bruins, if they wanted to give their offense a goose they had a chance to sign Mike Hoffman for short dollars in the offseason and they didn’t do it. Now they are stuck with their group for the time being and likely would only be making a move for an established top-4 left-shot defenseman if they make any moves in-season. That could mean going after Keith Yandle as Kevin Weekes advocated for on our podcast a couple of days ago, or it could be mean another pursuit of Oliver Ekman-Larsson should be hit the trade market again a few months from now.
But I don’t see the Bruins with the tradeable assets, or the appetite, to swing a deal for a player of Dubois’ stature. And I’m not sure I see them chasing any available snipers ahead of the deadline this season, either.
Do you think Pasta goes back with Bergy and Marchand when he returns, or does Cassidy put him with Krejci and Studnicka? #haggbag
JH: Yes, I think David Pastrnak goes back with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. The Perfection Line should be enough to get the Bruins over the hump into the playoffs when combined with their elite goaltending and standout special teams. I actually like Studnicka on the right wing with David Krejci, and I also very much like Nick Ritchie as a big body creating space on the left side for both of those players. Perhaps eventually Jake DeBrusk gets switched down to the third line with Bjork and Coyle when everybody gets healthy?
But I see the Perfection Line going right back to their brilliance as soon as No. 88 is ready to return in the next couple of weeks. Why go away from Perfection (trademarked Joe Haggerty, 2018)?
Hagg Bagg: Regardless of how this season goes for the Bruins, I do not want them bringing in any older players with big money and term left on their contracts. This summer the Bruins will have almost $30M in cap space with a loaded UFA class and Patrick Laine possibly available via trade.
–Marc, Malden (via Facebook fan page)
JH: Yeah, I agree. No more David Backes types. Obviously, Laine is off the market at this point after getting moved to Columbus for Pierre-Luc Dubois, but I didn’t see him as a particularly good fit for the Bruins anyway. The Bruins will be in a position to make a run at a very good player after this season based on David Krejci’s $7.25 million cap hit coming off the books, and Jack Studnicka sliding into a center spot on his entry level deal.
Guys like Gabriel Landeskog, Kyle Palmieri and Brandon Saad will be on the open market, and the Bruins could get swings at snipers like Taylor Hall or Mike Hoffman as they come off their current one-year deals signed due to the COVID-19 economy. It will all depend on how things go with COVID-19 restrictions and attendance for games, however. I don’t expect to see the Bruins spending big money until the arenas are full once again, so let’s hope that’s what we’re looking at next season as the vaccine gets fully introduced by June or July.
The bottom line: It’s absolutely correct to believe the Boston Bruins could be big players on the 2021 free agent market with Krejci off the books, and presumably Tuukka Rask back at a reduced rate for a few more years after this one. They could be looking at $10 million in free space to make some roster additions to a Boston hockey club that’s still got a strong core group.
Do the Bruins want a guy who really wants to be a Montreal Canadien and quits on the ice because he hasn’t gotten what he wants?
–Steven Thanos (@Bruinshockey247)
JH: I’ve already answered this question, but I had to just throw this in there because your name is Steve Thanos. That’s amazing. Do you just walk around saying “I am Inevitable” all day long?
In my opinion Zdeno Chara’s veteran presence on and off the ice in the locker room is worth the money especially if it keeps him out of a rival jersey. What you think?
–Johnny Appleseed (@johnnya92461130)
JH: It wasn’t about the money with Zdeno Chara. It was about playing time and opportunity. The Boston Bruins wanted him to be a part-time player that might be scratched occasionally during the condensed hockey season and would be playing less than the 20 minutes of ice time per game he’s averaged throughout his career.
Interestingly, he’s averaging under 20 minutes per game with the Washington Capitals thus far and has just one assist in five games along with a plus-3 rating. He also showed on Friday night that he’s still a handful to play against when you get on his bad side.
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) January 23, 2021
That’s what I believe the Bruins will miss the most with Chara, but they’re also a faster hockey more able to transition the puck without him back there as well. I think that’s a decision the Bruins brass made headed into this season. They needed to be a sleeker group capable of moving the puck quickly and they needed to subtract Big Zee in order to do that. And they needed to be a bigger group across the board, and that means they couldn’t have both Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk part of the same defensemen corps.
That resulted in both Krug and Chara being subtracted from the Boston Bruins mix this season. It remains to be seen if that makes them better or worse for this season, but this humble hockey writer likes what he’s seen of Jakub Zboril thus far this season.
That’s it for this week’s Hagg Bag mailbag. We’ll see you at the rinks.