Should Bruins add more at trade deadline after Coyle?

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After trading Ryan Donato and a pick for Charlie Coyle, GM Don Sweeney said that the Boston Bruins might be done at the trade deadline.

“I don’t know if we’re necessarily going to do anything else,” Sweeney said during a conference call, via NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty. “We are going to continue to make calls and receive calls, and we’ll continue to monitor the marketplace to see what may or may not fit with our hockey club. We’re going to continue to cross our fingers that we stay healthy. I think our club has . . . put themselves in a position to compete for a playoff spot and improve the positioning if possible as we come down to the last 21 games. We’re going to continue to look at areas. But we’re excited.”

The Bruins pushed their winning streak to seven games on Wednesday, tentatively giving them home-ice in a potential first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. So, yeah, it’s understandable that Boston’s excited about its chances. The fact that they’ve accomplished this while navigated injuries to the likes of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Zdeno Chara only brightens their outlook.

But, should the Bruins continue to add? Let’s take a look at how much of a boost Coyle might be, what the Bruins have to work with, and try to gauge the pros and cons of more trades.

A versatile piece

As strong as the Bruins have been in 2018-19, they’ve been extremely top-heavy, counting on a mixture of staunch defense, fantastic goaltending, and the top line of Pastrnak-Bergeron-Brad Marchand.

Charlie Coyle could give David Krejci a viable winger, along with Jake DeBrusk. He has plenty of experience centering his own lines, too, so Boston may eventually decide that Coyle works best as a 3C.

When we look back on the trade, it’s possible that we’ll realize that the Bruins might have sold low on Ryan Donato’s potential. Whatever the cause (coach, his own struggles) was, the 22-year-old was only averaging 12:30 TOI per game this season, down from last year’s rookie workrate of 14:42.

Whether Coyle explodes alongside a playmaker like Krejci, merely produces at his solid Wild rate, or anchors a third line, it’s nearly certain that he’ll provide more immediate dividends than what Donato would have delivered from Bruce Cassidy’s doghouse.

If Coyle ends up being the extent of the Bruins’ trade deadline spoils, it wouldn’t be all bad.

Cap Concerns

Now, if the Bruins want more, things get interesting.

At a very affordable $3.2M cap hit (through 2019-20), Coyle doesn’t break the bank, and is likely to be more valuable than he’s getting paid. The Bruins also didn’t give up much in draft capital to land Coyle, merely handing over a conditional fifth-rounder along with Donato.

So the Bruins have their picks, most notably from the top three rounds, along with the Rangers’ fourth. For a contending team that’s already added a roster player, the Bruins have reasonable ammo to try to go after someone else.

Cap Friendly projects the Bruins’ trade deadline cap space at about $15.74M. (Things get a little tricky when you consider prorated cap hits and possible performance bonuses, but the bottom line is that they have more to work with than the full-season projection of $3.384M.)

Considering the circumstances, Boston would be best served only looking for a rental.

It’s unclear if Zdeno Chara would continue his run of one-year deals, and if he’d seek a raise from his current $5M mark. Charlie McAvoy‘s headed for a big raise from his rookie deal, with the only question being how much he’ll get. Danton Heinen‘s slated to become an RFA, too. Overall, the Bruins have enough concerns (including Torey Krug only being covered through 2019-20) that they’d be wise not to make too many longer-term additions. Again, Coyle’s only locked down through 2019-20 himself, so he’s likely to be more expensive in the future in his own right.

If the Bruins wanted to go bolder – but more awkward and complicated – they could also try to move David Backes‘ contract.

Backes, 34, carries a $6M cap hit through (whew) 2020-21. According to Cap Friendly, Backes has a no-movement clause through this season, which then morphs into a modified no-trade clause, so Boston would need Backes to OK a move.

Getting another team to absorb Backes’ contract would also require some convincing, yet maybe the Bruins could bribe a budget team to take it on in exchange for a pick or two? While his cap hit is unsightly, the term is becoming less formidable, and his total salary drops from $6M in 2018-19 to $4M in 2019-20 and 2020-21. These details make a Backes trade feel far more likely after this season, but it might not hurt to explore ideas now.

The bottom line is that the Bruins have some bullets in the chamber, but they’ll probably be hunting for mid-range targets, rather than the Artemi Panarin-level stars. If they even take any other shots, mind you.

A question of windows

We’ve gotten into nitty gritty details, but zooming out on the larger terrain makes future planning arguably even more interesting.

On one hand, this might be the Bruins’ best chance at a deep run. While they’ve been able to unearth some real gems in the draft, particularly Pastrnak and McAvoy, the Bruins are nonetheless highly dependent on some aging players.

Chara is 41, and still important. Bergeron seems ageless at 33, but you never know when Father Time will pull an about-face. Marchand is 30, and Krejci is 32. Tuukka Rask isn’t ancient at 31, and Jaroslav Halak isn’t either at 33, yet a more demanding game could open the door for both of their impressive goalies to slide.

For all we know, the Bruins’ window could close, and as we’ve seen from teams like the Kings, sometimes that collapse is abrupt.

That said, there’s no denying that the Bruins face a bumpy road to a hopeful playoff run.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are so far ahead of everyone else, it’s honestly kind of ridiculous. There’s the impression that we still haven’t seen the best of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who might still have some tricks up their sleeves at the trade deadline. And those are just the most prominent teams in the Bruins’ bracket.

Such competition serves as potential inspiration to add, but it also might feel discouraging. Should the Bruins really mortgage their future when they’d be beating long odds in getting out of the second round?

The good news is that the Coyle trade doesn’t close all doors for the Bruins, but it doesn’t mean these are easy questions to answer.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins add Coyle from Wild in hopes of secondary scoring boost

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The Boston Bruins have desperately needed scoring depth for the entire season and tried to address that hole on Wednesday evening by acquiring forward Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Ryan Donato and a conditional fifth-round pick.

The 26-year-old Coyle has 10 goals and 18 assists in 60 games this season and is still signed for more full season at a salary cap hit of $3.2 million.

Even though the Bruins’ offense has been ridiculously top-heavy this season with almost all of their forward production coming from the trio Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand, they still have one of the league’s best records and entered the day with the second-highest point total (78) in the Eastern Conference. With a little extra depth to take some of the pressure off of the big-three up front, and with the type of goaltending they have received from Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak all season, they could be a dangerous team in the playoffs.

Coyle was born in Massachusetts and played his college hockey at Boston University, so this will be a homecoming of sorts.

From the Wild perspective, this is the second core player general manager Paul Fenton has traded during what is quickly becoming a bitterly disappointing season.

Even though the Wild entered the day in a playoff spot, they only have a one-point cushion over a pack of teams that is right on their tail (two of which, Colorado and Chicago, could jump ahead them on Wednesday night), lost their captain Mikko Koivu for the remainder of the season, and are on track to finish with their worst record since the 2011-12 season.

Most recently, they have lost nine of their past 10 games and been shut out in each of the past two.

Donato is obviously the key to this deal for the Wild and they have to be hoping that he can fully reach his potential with what should be a bigger role than he was getting in Boston. He has 11 goals and seven assists in 46 career games (but only six goals and three assists in 34 games this season) but has shown flashes of top-six ability. That is the good news. The bad news is he turns 23 in a couple of months and hasn’t yet solidified himself as a regular NHL player. That is obviously not old when it comes to a player’s peak, but it is definitely reaching the point where a prospect starts to become a suspect if they do not start to produce more consistently.

A few weeks ago the team sent Nino Niederreiter to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Victor Rask, a deal that has backfired tremendously in the short-term (and probably will in the long-term as well).

These two deals together, combined with the injury to Koivu, should be a pretty loud message to the team and fans as to what they should expect over the new few days — the Wild are sellers, and now it is just a matter of who else goes out the door before Monday.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Wednesday Night Hockey: Bruins look to extend winning streak vs. Golden Knights

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Things have been going well for the Bruins lately. Really well. Heading into tonight’s clash against the struggling Vegas Golden Knights, Boston has won each of their last six contests. They also haven’t suffered a loss in regulation all month (their only loss came in a shootout against the New York Rangers).

This recent surge has allowed them create some space between themselves and the teams in Wild Card spots. As of right now, the Bruins have a two-point lead on Toronto, who is sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division. They’re seven points ahead of Montreal, who is in the first Wild Card position.

The Bruins have also found a way to start scoring with a lot more regularity. They’ve scored at least three goals in seven of their last eight games. The most impressive thing about this recent offensive surge, is that they’ve done it with David Pastrnak on the sidelines for the last four games. They’re 4-0-0 without Pastrnak and they’ve scored 19 goals without him. That’s impressive.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

Even though his team has been filling the net, general manager Don Sweeney would still like to add a significant piece or two before Monday’s trade deadline.

“My feeling is that we would like to try and add without necessarily giving up what we know is a big part of our future,” said Sweeney. “We committed assets last year to take a swing where we felt we needed to address an area of need and we will try and do a similar thing this year. I can’t guarantee that’ll happen. This time of the year, prices are generally pretty high, but we’re going to try. We’re going to try because I think we still need it.”

The Bruins have been linked to names like Wayne Simmonds, Mark Stone or Artemi Panarin. If they could land one of those players, it would make a world of a difference. They still wouldn’t be as good as the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it would certainly close the gap between themselves and the Bolts.

Will Sweeney be able to pull off a move of that magnitude? We’ll find out by Monday at 3 p.m. ET. For now, the Bruins just have to worry about finishing off their Western swing as well as they started it.

Dave Goucher (play-by-play) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Marchand’s four-point night helps Bruins end Blackhawks’ win streak

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Even before David Pastrnak went down with an injury on Tuesday, the Boston Bruins were a team that was short on scoring depth. All season their offense has been carried by the same four or five players, with Pastrnak being one of the best.

Without him, it obviously makes the lineup even thinner and is going to put a lot more pressure on the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Torey Krug to do even more.

On Tuesday night in a 6-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, a lot of them stepped up and did just that.

The win improved the Bruins’ current point streak to eight consecutive games and was their fifth win in the past six games.

There were no shortage of offensive stars in the game for the Bruins as they had three players recorded at least three points — Marchand finished with four, tallying a goal and adding three assists, while Krejci (two goals and an assist) and Danton Heinen (a goal and two assists) each finished with three points.

While the offense was a big development for the Bruins in the absence of Pastrnak, the turning point in the game may have happened early in the first period when their penalty kill came through in a big situation. After Alex DeBrincat gave Chicago an early 1-0 lead, the Blackhawks found themselves on an extended two-man advantage following penalties by Marchand and Zdeno Chara. The Bruins not only kept the Blackhawks off the scoreboard, they completely shut down the Blackhawks’ power play with a textbook penalty kill that was probably even better than they could have drawn it up. The Blackhawks never even managed to get a good luck on the extended advantage.

Shortly after that two-man advantage ended, the Bruins erupted with three goals in a four-minute stretch.

For the Bruins, the win helps solidify their playoff positioning in the Atlantic Division.

For the Blackhawks, it snaps what had been a seven-game winning streak and is a missed opportunity to keep gaining ground in the highly competitive Western Conference Wild Card race.

More: Injured thumb to keep Bruins’ Pastrnak out of lineup for at least two weeks

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Road ahead for Blackhawks’ playoff push

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Blackhawks are hoping to extend their impressive, surprising winning streak to eight games when they face the Bruins on Tuesday.

While a four-point lead in the standings is larger than it might seem thanks to teams being in Chicago’s way and how many games go to overtime, it’s also understandable that Blackhawks fans are dreaming bigger with each consecutive victory.

Of course, the last-place Ducks and Kings are the same four points behind the Blackhawks. That thought brings up a lot of observations (especially if you need to back up claims about the West’s lower ranks being putrid), but this post focuses on the road ahead for Chicago.

Some schedule notes

The Blackhawks play five of their next seven games at the United Center, and Tuesday’s upcoming game against the Bruins also comes with Chicago being lucky that David Pastrnak won’t be available for the Bruins.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

Feb. 12: @ Boston
Feb. 14: vs. New Jersey
Feb. 16: vs. Columbus
Feb. 18: vs.Ottawa
Feb. 20: @ Detroit
Feb. 22: vs.Colorado
Feb. 24: vs.Dallas

So far, the Blackhawks have played 28 games apiece at home versus away, so they have 13 of each remaining this season. They’ll likely hope that the Avalanche don’t figure things out anytime soon, as they face Colorado three more times in 2018-19.

So you’re saying there’s a chance …?

It’s interesting to see where the Blackhawks fall according to various models, but optimism is limited even where it’s most abundant.

Money Puck gives them a 15.65-percent chance of making the postseason. Dom Luszczyszyn’s model (sub required) might be the friendliest to Chicago, giving them a 21-percent shot.

Chicago has a shot, but would beat some odds. It’s also easy to forget that the Blackhawks lost seven of eight games before going on this seven-game winning streak.

Potential stumbling blocks

Even by the standards of a seven-game winning streak, Chicago’s on fire.

With 81 points in just 55 games, Patrick Kane already has more points than he had last season (76 in 82 games), and he’s undoubtedly boosted Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome along the way. Strome’s close to a point-per-game since joining Chicago, with 30 points in 32 games.

Kane’s tied for second in scoring with Connor McDavid, so it’s fair to bring up some Hart chatter, but what if he gets hurt or merely cools off? Chicago might not have the scoring support to keep this surge going.

There are pretty obvious scenarios where the Blackhawks’ brief goaltending surge topples over.

Extending Collin Delia was reasonable enough, but he still only has 14 games of NHL experience, so that streak could wear off. Cam Ward currently has a .939 save percentage in three February games after failing to reach .900 in any months this season, and often being a disaster over the last — decade? While Corey Crawford getting what seems to be a clean bill of health is fantastic news, there’s no timetable for his return, and no guarantee he’ll be sharp when he can come back.

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With a friendly upcoming schedule, the magic might last — at least for a while. There are pretty obvious signs that it may eventually wear off, but either way, Blackhawks fans should enjoy the ride.

MORE: Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford feeling ‘back to normal’

John Walton (play-by-play) and A.J. Mleczko (‘Inside-the-Glass’) will have the call from TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Pre-game coverage starts at 6 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside Jeremy Roenick and Mike Johnson.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.