The Boston Bruins sit atop the Atlantic Division with a 19-5-6 file.
However, trying previous an elite goaltending unit and a few potent offensive conduits like David Pastrnak, there are many areas of enchancment for Jim Montgomery’s roster.
As anticipated, Boston’s scoring punch has lessened following a number of vital offseason departures. Boston is at present sixteenth within the NHL in objectives per recreation (3.17). An eighth-ranked energy play (24.5%) has stored them afloat, however their 61 5-on-5 objectives rank twenty second within the league.
Boston would possibly rank third within the league in objectives towards per recreation (2.57), however a hefty portion of that credit score falls on the play in internet, together with a stout penalty kill (87.5%).
To this point this season, the Bruins have been knocked for giving up far too many high quality appears, with the staff seventeenth within the league in high-danger probabilities allowed per 60 minutes at 5v5 play (11.21). They’ve misplaced six video games this season when main after two durations of play.
It stays to be seen if Don Sweeney and the Bruins have the means to claim themselves as patrons as soon as once more on the commerce deadline. But when they do, Boston might kill two birds with one stone with a stout two-way middle like Elias Lindholm.
With the 13-14-5 Flames as soon as once more struggling within the Pacific Division and the 29-year-old Lindholm set to hit free company this summer time, the writing is on the wall that Calgary will transfer to pivot within the months forward.
Boston, like most groups, would welcome the chance so as to add a defensively accountable centerman like Lindholm. However simply how sensible is such a deal this season?
Let’s have a look at the professionals and cons of Boston pulling off mentioned commerce:
PRO: Lindholm would resolve a number of flaws in Boston, in 2023 and past
All issues thought-about, the Bruins ought to be happy with how their middle grouping has fared because the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.
Each Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha are on tempo for career-highs in scoring, whereas 19-year-old rookie Matt Poitras has showcased his excessive ceiling in his first foray towards NHL competitors.
Johnny Beecher might be penciled in as Boston’s 4C for the foreseeable future because of his pace and robust faceoff numbers as a rookie.
However including a participant like Lindholm in 2023 — and presumably, signing him to a long-term extension — offers Boston a confirmed top-six, all-situations stalwart whose presence ought to create a constructive domino impact additional down the lineup.
Lindholm has surpassed the 60-point threshold thrice in his profession, together with a career-best 82 factors in the course of the 2021-22 season.
His affect at 5v5 play would supply a substantial increase to Boston. Over the previous three seasons, there have been 793 NHLers who’ve logged not less than 500 minutes of 5v5 ice time. Lindholm ranks fifty fifth in that pool in 5v5 factors per 60 minutes at 2.23, simply two spots beneath Bergeron (2.25).
With Lindholm within the top-six unit, Boston has the choice of slotting Coyle again right down to 3C — the place a line with him, Trent Frederic, and James van Riemsdyk might dole out loads of injury. The Bruins might additionally ease Poitras’ workload and shift him to the wing, and even transfer Zacha over to the wing reverse his fellow countryman in Pastrnak.
Lindholm’s defensive recreation would even be a welcome addition to a staff whose defensive construction has seen far too many lapses. Lindholm completed second in voting for the 2021-22 Selke Trophy behind Bergeron, main Calgary in blocked photographs (52) and takeaways (55).
Lindholm’s two-way prowess would slot in effectively for a Boston roster whose identification is constructed round a stingy and layered protection. His robust displaying at faceoffs (55.2% this season, 53.2% for his profession) would additionally make a significant distinction on a Bruins staff that has wanted a vital faceoff win within the closing minutes of many one-goal video games.
Even when the Bruins don’t have the means to tug off a commerce for Lindholm within the subsequent few months, his robust play down each ends of the ice paints the image of a participant that meshes completely in Boston — and will immediate the Bruins to throw a hefty contract his means in free company (if he truly goes to market).
CON: Boston might not have the property to get a deal achieved
The Bruins have relinquished loads of draft capital through the years in an effort to place a Bergeron-led roster excessive.
Boston has solely submitted a first-round choice twice within the final six years. They received’t have a first-rounder in 2024. Past that, the Bruins received’t formally be on the clock within the 2024 NHL Draft till the fourth spherical.
After all, if the price of buying a top-six middle for 2023 (and conceivably, the longer term) is one other first-rounder and some prospects, Sweeney would possibly chunk.
However the problem for Boston isn’t precisely the draft capital, as powerful because it could be to proceed to decimate an already laboring pipeline.
Past transferring one other first-round decide or a prospect equivalent to Mason Lohrei or Georgii Merkulov, the Bruins must transfer one other NHL contract or two off their books to accommodate the cap hit from Lindholm (and admittedly, from any participant they purchase this season).
Despite the fact that Lindholm’s cap hit within the last 12 months of his deal is much from outrageous ($4.85 million), Boston has little leeway in the case of its fiscal state of affairs. In keeping with CapFriendly, Boston has simply $59,266 in cap room as of Thursday afternoon. Yikes.
In any commerce this season, the Bruins are going to should subtract from their NHL roster to take action.
And whereas some followers might not have any qualms about transferring a participant like Jake DeBrusk or Matt Grzelcyk to facilitate a deal, one has to surprise if a rebuilding staff like Calgary even desires so as to add gamers of their late 20s who’re set to hit free company this summer time.
If push involves shove, the Bruins do have some property they might half with for the proper worth. It simply stays to be seen if the Flames are the kind of staff to covet what Boston is definitely dangling out on the commerce market.
CON: Boston might simply wait in free company…
Given their cap constraints and largely barren prospect cabinet, the Bruins aren’t precisely primed to be patrons on the deadline.
The offseason, nonetheless, is a distinct story.
With the NHL’s cap ceiling set to leap up $4.2 million to $87.7 million subsequent season, the Bruins ought to be in line to capitalize this summer time, particularly with so many franchise fixtures like Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, and others already signed long-term.
Per CapFriendly, the Bruins are anticipated to have $26.7 million in cap area this offseason, with their free brokers being Jeremy Swayman, DeBrusk, Grzelcyk, Derek Forbort, Danton Heinen, James van Riemsdyk, and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Odds are Boston isn’t planning on retaining all of these gamers anyway. And even when Boston arms out a pleasant payday to Swayman, it ought to have loads of cash left over this summer time.
By 2025-26, the NHL wage cap ceiling might soar forward to as a lot as $92 million, giving Boston much more respiration room.
Relatively than surrender draft picks and several other property to try to get Lindholm now, Boston might simply play the ready recreation and hope Lindholm goes to market.
Contemplating how a lot cash Boston has accessible, don’t be shocked to see them linked to gamers like Lindholm, or perhaps a native product on the blue line like Noah Hanifin.
PRO: …However a commerce would assure Lindholm’s arrival
Sure, the Bruins can simply roll the cube and attempt to signal Lindholm in free company.
However there’s no assure Lindholm will likely be accessible in a possible bidding warfare in early July.
After shedding Johnny Gaudreau for nothing in free company in 2022, the Flames doubtless aren’t going to let Lindholm hit the open market this summer time. Until Lindholm re-ups in Calgary earlier than the deadline, it’s all however a on condition that the Flames will ship him elsewhere and get a stable return again.
And if Lindholm lands elsewhere in February or March, whichever staff thaat picks him up could have the within edge so far as signing him to a long-term deal.
And whereas there are cases of groups including gamers of their prime on the deadline and never inking them to extensions (see: Bertuzzi, Tyler), it’s normally an outlier situation.
If the Bruins are dead-set on including a participant like Lindholm, they could have to strike now, contemplating that the chances aren’t precisely of their favor that he’ll be up for grabs this summer time.
After all, the Bruins do produce other contingency plans. All of that fiscal flexibility within the coming years might permit them to tackle a heftier contract like Tomas Hertl’s (signed by means of 2029-30 at $8.137 million per 12 months), for instance.
But when Boston is honing in on a participant like Lindholm, the franchise’s finest wager at placing him in a black-and-gold sweater doubtless includes a mid-season commerce.
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