As we near the halfway mark of the 2018-19 NHL season, the Bruins are a cool 23-14-4 and will have to heat up during the second half of the season in order to have a chance this postseason. Heating up should not be a difficult task for Boston, as they recently got both Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara back after missing extensive time with injury. In addition to health, of the Bruins’ next 16 games, 12 will be played on their home ice and should provide a huge advantage for Boston during that stretch. However, in order for the Bruins to have a shot at a Stanley Cup title this season or to even make a deep playoff push, they need to address their secondary scoring issue. Boston has long had this issue and left it either unfixed or patched together. One example being this: last season the Bruins traded their first round pick and multiple mediocre players to the New York Rangers in return for a washed up Rick Nash. Nash was certainly an upgrade at the time for Boston, but he did not re-sign this offseason and is no longer playing in the NHL. Nash was nowhere near worth a first round pick, and the Bruins now have the same issue and needs as they did before the Nash trade but now are short a first round prospect. It is time for Boston to invest in a young talented players who will be on their roster for multiple seasons.
One silver lining of the Bergeron injury this season seemed to be that the Bruins were able to see how well their prospects have developed in Providence and determine which players were ready for the NHL. Sadly, none were able to make a significant impact or even show flashes of potential. This fact highlights the reality that the Bruins need to look towards the trade market to bolster their second, third and fourth lines. Another silver lining, one that no one saw coming, was the emergence of David Krejci. Up until recently, Krejci had been seen as a washed up, aging center who was a waste of cap space. However, the real issue with Krejci proved to be the lack of talent around him. With Bergeron out, Krejci was moved up to the Bruins first line where he was playing with All Stars like David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. The combo worked well and Krejci’s game flourished through his ability to make key passes and set up scoring opportunities. The line was not as dangerous as the “death line” made up of Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron, but with Krejci proving that he can still facilitate a quality NHL line, this proves even more that the Bruins are perhaps just one piece away from a deep postseason run.
The trade I believe the Bruins should pursue is with the Edmonton Oilers for former first overall center, Ryan Nugent Hopkins. While Nugent Hopkins is classified as a center, he is more than capable of also playing wing which would bring huge versatility to Boston’s lineup. Nugent Hopkins is a quality NHL player who would more than likely solve the Bruins secondary scoring issues. In addition to his talent, Nugent Hopkins is just 25 years of age with two more years on his contract after this season and only a six million dollar cap hit per year. This contract is a great deal for a talent like Nugent Hopkins. This trade would likely require Boston to give up a talented defensive player as well as a young offensive talent. Boston can easily meet these criteria by giving up defenseman Torey Krug and either winger Jake Debrusk or center Ryan Donato. Krug is a talented defenseman and has played well for Boston, while he would be missed by the Bruins, I believe they could replace him. Krug has a 5.25 million cap hit and would roughly offset Nugent Hopkins’ contract for both teams. The real question about this trade for Boston is whether or not they should be willing to give up Jake Debrusk or Ryan Donato. Personally, I would not even consider trading Jake Debrusk in a package deal for Nugent Hopkins. Debrusk has had huge flashes and is too talented and too young to consider trading at this point. He needs to develop a few more seasons in order for Boston to discover his true potential. I would, however, be in on trading Ryan Donato in a package deal for Nugent Hopkins. Donato is a high prospect with a tremendous ceiling but he has failed to be consistent and earn a bigger role for the Bruins. Despite some of Donato’s struggles in Boston, he is still thought of highly throughout the league and is a top NHL prospect that commands a lot of capital on the trade market. The deal not only makes sense for Boston as they acquire the one piece they need to make a deep playoff run, but also makes sense for Edmonton as they acquire a consistently good defenseman, who they have needed for some time now, as well as a talented young center who can be allowed to further develop in Edmonton’s talented offense. This deal is realistic, as Edmonton’s General Manager is Peter Chiarelli. Chiarelli has connections with Boston’s front office as he was the General Manager for the Bruins when they won the Stanley Cup in 2011. The bottom line is that both teams take on some risk with this deal, but there is no real reason why this trade should not be done. Both contracts balance out and both teams fill needs they have.