It’s coming up to the time of year when Boston Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney does what could be considered his best work. Over the last couple of seasons, he has made trade deadline additions and has locked some of them up beyond the season and for the future. This season, he is in charge of the team that currently holds the NHL’s best record at 39-7-5 and they are on pace for a historic regular season.
At the end of the regular season, will it go down as one that is historic? I’m not sure many players or coaches in the locker room care if it is or isn’t, but the season will be judged more on how the postseason plays out over the regular season. With that said, the Bruins are a very good team, but all very good teams can use some additions at the trade deadline. Aside from the 2018-19 Black and Gold, this team is ready to win and win now. If they are going to get the remaining pieces needed to get over the hump and survive that Stanley Cup playoff grind, they will need some more “Sweeeny Succcess’’ by the March 3 deadline.
What is ”Sweeney Success”?
I understand that the former Bruins defenseman is highly criticized for every move he makes and doesn’t make. It’s the nature of the business, but the results do speak for themselves when it comes to trading for players and locking them up long-term.
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There are recent examples of Sweeney going all-in at the trade deadline to acquire pieces for that season and the future. In 2019, he acquired Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild and the Massachusetts native played a big role in the run to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games. He signed him to a contract extension that carries a $5.25 million average annual value (AAV) and after playing a big part in the second-half success of last season and he’s formed a good connection on the third line this season with Taylor Hall and Trent Frederic.
At the 2021 trade deadline, Sweeney addressed the need for a second-line left wing for David Krejci when he acquired Hall and Curtis Lazar from the Buffalo Sabres. Hall had eight goals and six assists down the stretch of the regular season and then re-signed on a four-year, $24 million contract with a $6 million AAV. This season, he has thrived on the third line and accepted the role with Coyle and Frederic, unlike some veterans who might be unhappy with being dropped to the bottom six. Hall and Coyle are a combined $11.5 million AAV for two-thirds of the Boston third line, but they are adding depth that makes the Black and Gold a three-line deep team.
Last season, Sweeney landed the biggest defensive name at the trade deadline when he acquired Hamous Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks. Lindholm was going to be a free agent following the season, but before he even left Anaheim for Boston, Sweeney locked him up on an eight-year, $52 million extension and with the way he’s playing this season, that deal looks like a bargain for now. With Charlie McAvoy locked up long-term as well, the Bruins have their future top-pairing set. Three moves at the last four trade deadlines by Sweeney have played a big part in not only the present for the Bruins’, but also the future.
Bruins Need Another Present & Future Move This Season
Can Sweeney make it the fourth time in five years that he makes a move that helps not only the rest of this season and the playoffs, but also the future? With questions surrounding the future of Patrice Bergeron and Krejci beyond this season, Boston’s GM would be wise to address the future need up the middle with a trade and being able to sign them an extension, or acquire a player who has some term remaining on his contract.
Bo Horvat would have been the perfect fit for that, but the Vancouver Canucks sent him to the New York Islanders on Jan. 30 and on Feb. 5, New York signed him to an eight-year contract extension. Finding the next Horvat will not be easy, but if Sweeney wants to solve the future need and current need for a wing, then he has options. Ryan O’Reilly of the Blues is an option or so is Jonathan Toews with the Chicago Blackhawks. while Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks is another potential fit, but with Meier comes a huge contract and he’s a restricted free agent (RFA) following the season.
Another area that could also see an upgrade is on defense and the name everyone would like to get is Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes who is a left-shot. The bigger need or welcomed addition for the Bruins would be on the right side, but that is a place where a veteran for depth is an option. Adding Chychrun would create a dynamic top-pairing with Charlie McAvoy and slide Lindholm to the second pair creating deep defensive depth.
If there is one thing that Sweeney has been successful at recent trade deadlines is making a big move and locking up the player for the future. If he adds Chychrun on defense, he’s already under team control, but getting a future top-six center and locking them up like Hall and Lindholm would be a very productive and successful trade deadline for the Bruins’ GM.