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Murphy: Should Bruins Stand Pat On Trade Market?



NHL Trade

Should the Boston Bruins stand pat on what could be a busier-than-usual NHL trade market in January and leading into the March 8 NHL trade deadline?

As the 2023 NHL Holiday Roster Freeze gets set to expire at midnight Thursday, the Boston Bruins continue to be the subject of NHL trade rumors. It’s no secret that the Bruins could use a bonafide top 6 center, a scoring/rugged winger, and another defenseman to make net-front life more miserable for opponents and create more offense from the backend. However, such assets will likely cost more of the future in draft picks and prospects, something the Bruins are already in dire need of.

Maybe he’s already made this determination with his hockey operations staff, or maybe he’s in the process of it, but general manager Don Sweeney needs to be asking if the 2023-24 Boston Bruins legit Stanley Cup contenders, and if not, will such acquisitions turn them into a real Cup contender?

After reaching the Thanksgiving holiday with a 14-1-3 record, the Boston Bruins came back down to earth and went into the Christmas break with a record of 5-5-3. A week before Christmas and prior to his team going 0-2-1 heading into the NHL Holiday Break that ended on Wednesday, Sweeney gave his assessment of the season to the media on Dec. 18.

Note: This is just an excerpt from Sweeney’s assessment, and the full transcript can be found here.

“Well, I think we’re positive about where our club is at,” Sweeney said prior to his team losing twice to the Minnesota Wild with an absolute stinker against the Winnipeg Jets sandwiched in between.

“We described to them that it’s going to be a work in progress, and there’s going to be some growing pains associated with our hockey club. We’re going to challenge the depth of our group, and we have done that. Charlie [McAvoy] has been out, [Pavel] Zacha’s been out, [Morgan] Geekie’s been out, [Matt] Grzelcyk has been out. We prefaced most of the things, our goaltending, we felt very good about, and we continue to feel good about. The defensive structure of our group went through a little bit of a lull for a couple of games, uncharacteristically, but then got right back, put the screws down a little bit, and tightened it up. So, we’re not comfortable, you’re never comfortable in this business, but we’re proud of the group and how they’ve done so far, and we’ve got to continue to move forward.”

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery has been more realistic with his take on his current roster, constantly saying, ‘We expected this’ and stressing that this team is not close to last season’s or the last 15 seasons for that matter.

This team, thanks to some really stellar two-way play from Zacha and Charlie Coyle, was able to put a band-aid on the center depth chart after the offseason retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci but has never really been able to even temporarily heal the loss of offense from the departures of Taylor Hall and Tyler Bertuzzi, as well as Dmitry Orlov on the backend. The read from here is that with a hot goaltender, good health, and maybe one or two complimentary pieces prior to the March 8 NHL trade deadline, they could at least make it out of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs. After that, who knows what can happen?

But to find out, Sweeney shouldn’t sell what little of the farm he has left for what seems to be a perfect bridge year. Sweeney will potentially have upwards of $28 million to spend on the 2024 NHL free-agent market and offseason trade market. If he wants Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm and his white whale, Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, he’s better off waiting and hope they make it to free agency on July 1. Don’t move Mason Lohrei or move the team’s 2025 first round pick and let the season play out with maybe a few more band-aids at the deadline to add depth for the playoffs. While he’s at it, if he hasn’t come to terms on an extension with winger Jake DeBrusk and defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Derek Forbort, it wouldn’t hurt to see if he can rob another GM for some second and/or third round draft picks if and when the prices for such players go up.

You never know; maybe the 2023-24 Boston Bruins can leave an opposing coach in the playoffs having a Dennis Green meltdown in May in the midst of a postseason Cinderella run for the Bruins!




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