Seventeen days remain until the NHL trade deadline. The Boston Bruins are on a four game losing streak, and the injuries are just one of many issues that continue to plague the squad.
The Bruins fell victim to the Nashville Predators last night, 3-2, in the shootout, now making in four-straight losses for the Black and Gold. The B’s were without forwards Chuck Kobasew (day-to-day) and Michael Ryder (out two to three weeks) for the game, as the injuries just keep piling up.
Excluding Marco Sturm, five starting forwards for the Bruins have now missed a combined 49 games this season due to injuries (Phil Kessel, Michael Ryder, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, and Chuck Kobasew). The injury-bug has hit the B’s all season long, so this is just an ongoing dilemma that needs to be addressed.
A few players have been recalled from Providence to fill-in for the ailing starters—such as Byron Bitz, Vladimir Sobotka, and Martins Karsums—but these have only been Band-Aids covering up such large wounds.
Boston’s power play as of late has become completely anemic, just another situation that needs some serious attention. Although still ranked in the top-five in the NHL (22.2%), the Bruins have only mustered up just four PPG’s in their last 41 attempts.
While slumps, injuries, and poor production happen to all teams throughout the long NHL season, being on top of the totem-poll also comes with being under the microscope. While you don’t necessarily need a microscope to see the issues in Boston, it’s blatantly obvious that a change needs to be made here, in order to remain a threat come playoff time.
As the salary-cap remains an issue for the majority of franchises in the NHL, trading for marquis players would cost a King’s Ransom, and Boston is no exception.
Back in Feb. 2007, the Atlanta Thrashers acquired veteran forward Keith Tkachuk from St. Louis for Glen Metropolit, the first round pick in 2007, a third round pick in 2007 and a second round pick in 2008. The Thrashers ended up finishing first in the Southeast division that year, only to get swept by the New York Rangers, and watch Tkachuk sign back with the Blues.
I’m sure that’s one trade the Thrashers would like to have back.
Keeping that in mind, I think there is one unrestricted free-agent (UFA) out there who could help the Bruins with all three of their major issues. A player who’s GM mentioned that, “it might be time for a change of scenery."
Toronto Maple Leafs 28-year old forward, Nik Antropov.
The Leafs are virtually out of the playoff picture this 2008-09 season, sitting in 11th place with a mere 52-points. Plus, comments like that from the GM show that the team has all but shut-the-door on the rest of the season, and that their future is evidently more important.
A natural center, the 6’6” Antropov has come accustomed to playing the right wing position since his days on the top line with Mats Sundin. With 28 post-season appearances added to his resume, the USSR native is no stranger to hockey in May. Antropov has also benefited by playing alongside of some decent veterans in Joe Nieuwendyk and Owen Nolan.
Injuries have deterred Antorpov from showing-off his true potential, but this year he’s on pace for a career-high season. He has played in all 56 of the Leafs games this year, registering 18-goals on 150-shots on goal (SOG), with 24-assists for 42-points—on pace for 62-points. Antropov’s best season came last year where he notched 56-points on 165 SOG in 72 GP.
While his numbers aren’t staggering to look at, #80 is a big body with five PPG’s this season, something that the Bruins desperately need at forward. Along with a relatively small price tag—$2.150 million for 2008-09—this is one UFA that the Bruins need to pursuit.
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