By Matthew Cunha,
Through 58 games this season, the Boston Bruins sit just one point out of first place in the NHL. Soak that in for a second.
That’s over two-thirds of the season we’re talking about. Under Bruce Cassady’s tenure which has lasted one year and three games by an NHL season’s standards, the Bruins have accumulated 119 points in 85 games. The league-leading Washington Capitals finished last season with 118. It is not just a young team on a hot streak anymore. It is not just a team that caught fire. It is not just a gritty bunch. The 2017-18 version of the Boston Bruins are legit.
With the NHL trade deadline less than two weeks away. Many avid Bruins followers want them to stand pat.
The stand pat movement would allow them to keep their slew of talented upcoming prospects. That would make sense considering that there should be another wave of prospects coming up next year. It would further allow the Bruins to make adequate decisions on the prospects worth keeping around.
This idea is fine and all, until there is potential to win a Stanley Cup. That changes everything.
The Bruins already have a wealth of young riches on the roster. With David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Tuukka Rask all signed to long-term contracts, cap space will be limited when it comes time to sign young players. Charlie McAvoy will be up after next season since a year of his contract was used during last year’s playoffs. The Bruins are not sending him anywhere. You would also think that guys like Brandon Carlo, Danton Heinen, and Jake DeBrusk will want to be kept around after already being key contributors on a good team this season.
Having so many prospects make some expandable. It would be impossible to keep all of them. GM Don Sweeney built up these prospects for this exact reason. It is already paying dividends, so why not cash in more by using those assets on a guy who can help lead you to the promise land, not in three years, but right now.
Any transaction is always a risk. A deadline move would require the Bruins to judge the group of prospects, and decide on their potential. I am not a fan of trading a current young member of the Bruins. But if you are getting back a veteran presence that can help win you a Stanley Cup, and not giving up any of the present, it’s worth it.
I don’t want Sweeney to completely erase the farm system like Dave Dombroskwi did to the Red Sox. However, losing a couple of prospects to add a guy like Ryan McDonagh is worth it. The Bruins will need another talented veteran presence if they want to make a Cup run. If you have such a talented group of prospects, cash in on them while their values are still highest.
The aforementioned McDonagh is a tough-nosed captain worthy defenseman that could fill a missing piece alongside Brandon Carlo. The Rangers have struggled so far and are sitting out of the playoff structure. In a deal for him, Torey Krug and prospects would be what I am willing to give up. I think that’s a no brainer.
McDonagh’s contract goes into next season with a 4.7 million cap hit. The Bruins currently have limited cap room, but it is rumored to be going up next season.
If the Bruins were to deal prospects, it is anyone’s guess as to who they would give up. It would likely be someone not currently on the team. Someone to keep an eye on is current Harvard forward Ryan Donato. Donato has scored 21 goals in 23 games for the Crimson Tide and was tearing it up for Team USA at the Winter Olympics, notching a pair of goals in two of the U.S.’s three group games. While the U.S.’s run came to an end in last night’s quarterfinals defeat to the Czech Republic, Donato put his name on the map, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Bruins.
If Sweeney can get a deal that does not limit the Bruins cap flexibility moving forward, I think he does it. It would require the right contract at the right length. They need the flexibility to sign some of their young talent moving forward. I think the Bruins acknowledge their chances of a Cup run, and make a move for a legitimate veteran talent on or before February 26th.
Matthew Cunha is a producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.