Boston Bruins: Sit Back and Watch From The Top
First of all, the Bruins will not make a trade for Vincent LeCavalier.
March 4 is just days away and your Bruins have to evaluate the trade tool: Is it a benefit for your club? Are other teams going to use it also? What is the club's trade philosophy?
Last Year's Trade Deadline: Bruins did nothing
To examine a team's trade philosophy its useful to turn back the clock and see how the current management uses the tool.
Last year they did very little—but why? Surely they had the pieces to move and they had the room to grow.
Last March, Boston had two key players with serious injuries; Manny Fernandez and Patrice Bergeron. These openings gave Tim Thomas the responsibility of being an everyday goalie with young players.
From a trade point of view, sometimes when your team is struggling, trading away your youth doesn't get you to a peak level. The exchange is your future and the reward still does not gain health for your injured stars.
The Bruins went on to face Montreal in the first round of the playoffs and pushed their rival to the seventh game of that series. In the meantime they were able to gel their young players and give them a very intense playoff experience.
By NOT trading at the deadline the Bruins management provided confidence and seasoning to a team that would eventually regain Patrice Bergeron and Manny Fernandez free of charge in the 2008-2009 season.
This year's team needs: Not much
Boston got off to a good start and has played even better since then. Recently the trade talks have heated up since Boston has lost more games than their fans (THIS YEAR) are used to, but overall, where are the Bruins soft?
Starting from the most important position:
Tim Thomas: 26 wins, .932 save percentage 2.06 GAA - He leads the NHL in BOTH
Manny Fernandez: 14 wins, .921 save percentage 2.24 GAA - Manny's GAA in top 5 in the NHL
Considering Boston scores 3.31 goals per game, this isn't bad, but it also shows Boston's biggest surplus. Either one of these goalies could yield something nice in return and Boston has Tuuka Rask playing in Providence who got a spot start and pitched a shutout in New York.
Boston's blue line is clearly doing something right here—in conjunction with their goalies, Boston leads the league with a 54 +/- and six Bruins are on the top 13 in the NHL in plus minus.
Dennis Wideman and Zdeno Chara are on that list and the only team with two defensemen ranked that high. While you need more than two defensemen as a rule of thumb, Aaron Ward is 26th out of all players and Andrew Ference is one of the best penalty killing defensemen in the NHL.
Is there a surplus here? Possibly.
Matt Hunwick was able to step in nicely in scattered starts and playing time, but all in all without more NHL testing from Hunwick you wouldn't want to trade him, and you wouldn't want to trade a valuable defensemen thinking that you've got plenty to back it up. In fact, you can never have enough defensemen.
Is there a need here? Perhaps—if anything—a more offensive minded defenseman who really attacks the point like a Dan Boyle or a Mike Green would be an area to focus on.
Boston is finding success by throwing a dynamic set of forwards at other teams. David Krejci, Mark Savard and Phil Kessel are the highest scoring threesome in the NHL, and while its not a Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin combination, the Bruins have three great playmakers and these are guys that also play defense.
Add in Patrice Bergeron and you've got 4 solid centers running the offense.
No surplus here, no needs.
Statistically, this is the only area on the Bruins that could be substantially improved, but they have been dominant this season without having one great line but four dynamic ones that can also hit and play defense.
You wouldn't trade just to move Blake Wheeler, Milan Lucic, or Michael Ryder, so I'd be surprised if the Bruins make a stretch.
So why trade?
Washington and New Jersey seem to be Boston's most immediate threats. New Jersey just got Martin Brodeur back and sent Scott Clemensson down to Lowell, who was playing great in net.
This is like picking up a free agent in the middle of the year and with his playoff experience could give New Jersey an edge in any playoff series.
Washington has that amazing feel to them because their top line is so incredible. However, if they get deeper they could make teams play a full 60 minutes of ardent defense, which would only help when Ovechkin decides he wants to take over the third period.
Pittsburgh just got Gonchar back and when they start clicking they will make the playoffs as one of the hotter teams in the NHL (behind New Jersey in terms of playing great hockey).
Montreal is one of the hottest teams in the NHL and they just addressed their biggest need by picking up Mathieu Schneider and will present themselves to the Eastern Conference playoffs as one of the fastest teams in the NHL.
Can the Bruins get better? Yes, and they should, but we wont see any blockbusters—they are too close to the salary cap and have too much youthful talent to go for a LeCavalier.
Next year's free agent market looks solid and the team is too dynamic to break up. We'll see some fresh legs from their farm system give the top lines some help and rest.
Goalies and defense are the most important positions in the NHL, then centers, and with the Bruin's youth they have a long term formula in place and its good enough to win right now.
Winning in the postseason requires that extra edge, and I think that Boston already has it.
Read more from Greg Sheehan at www.turningtwo.com
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