With just over five weeks until the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline, the Boston Bruins remain buyers on the NHL trade market but should they be in on playoff rentals like Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux?
The Bruins seem to be in on almost every NHL trade rumor and it’s well known that general manager Don Sweeney would love to land a top 4 left-shot defenseman to slot in regularly next to the right-shot backbone of his blue line, Charlie McAvoy. Sweeney is also interested in some depth up the middle but numerous sources have told Boston Hockey Now that he isn’t hellbent on that second-line center he’s been coveting due to the emergence of Erik Haula and the chemistry Haula has formed with wingers Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. That likely is a position that will get more focus in the offseason.
It’s no secret that if Sweeney wants to acquire a white whale like Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, it’s no secret he’s likely going to have to send a potential package of rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman, Jake DeBrusk, and a first-round pick. That may be a lot to most Bruins fans but the reason Chychrun is worth such a high ransom is he is a 23-year-old, 2016 first-round pick that is under team control for two more years with a $4.6 million cap hit. With a player like Chychrun, Sweeney wouldn’t just be buying to bolster his team for a potential playoff run but also for the future. So that or a similar trade for the Bruins before the NHL trade deadline is still very much on the table.
What about a playoff rental like Giroux or Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg though?
The Bruins (45 GP, 26-16-3, 55 pts), currently lead the Detroit Red Wings (48 GP, 21-21-6, 48 pts) for the final wild card slot by seven points and have three games in hand. If their performance without captain Patrice Bergeron (head) and Brad Marchand (suspension) is any indication, the Bruins could be in the midst of a slump. After blowing a 2-0 lead in a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday – a game in which they lost Bergeron to injury and Marchand to suspension – and then the humiliating 6-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, the Bruins are now 11-12-1 against NHL teams that were in a playoff spot as of Friday.
The B’s will play at least the next game without Bergeron and Marchand, and the next five without Marchand. Two of those five games will be against playoff teams and as head coach Bruce Cassidy pointed out after the loss Thursday, the Bruins just can’t seem to find that next level against playoff contenders.
“You want to advance, you’ve got to beat good teams. You have to learn how to play against good teams. I feel like we’re lacking a little bit, the character and the instinct part, the digging in against good teams,” a bewildered and frustrated Cassidy pointed out. “It’s harder, it hurts to win. It’s harder and we don’t have enough against some of those better teams Sometimes a team is obviously just better than you in certain situations. Carolina clearly is; they’ve beaten us three times.”
So with the very real chance that the Bruins could face the Hurricanes or the Florida Panthers in the first round, should Sweeney and the Bruins really go all-in on the NHL Trade rental market too?
“No, but they probably will,” one NHL executive source told BHN Friday. “He needs to still remain focused on the future and that’s why a deal for a player like Chychrun or [Conor] Garland makes sense. The problem is, [Brad] Marchand and [Patrice] Bergeron seem to be dictating things there a little more than maybe they should be and the team thinks they squeeze out another Cup with those guys there. That’s a long shot at best right now and that reality is here now. It’s time to face it.”
If the Bruins survive this current stretch without Bergeron and Marchand though or even gain ground on the Washington Capitals for the first wild card slot, it doesn’t seem like Sweeney and the Bruins are willing to accept that reality just yet.