Jack Edwards Mailbag: Mike Knuble Could Be Bargain Acquisition If Veteran Forward Has Anything Left

Jack Edwards Mailbag: Mike Knuble Could Be Bargain Acquisition If Veteran Forward Has Anything LeftThe Bruins hit the road following a 3-0 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night, desperate to try to shake things up after a bit of a lull.

The B's got off on the right foot, holding on for a 4-3 win in a shootout against the Canadiens on Wednesday night, the first game of what will be a six-game road trip.

NESN's Jack Edwards got the night off from broadcasting duties for the Montreal game, but he's not taking any time off from his weekly mailbag.

Check out this week's version below.

Do you think the Bruins will try and target a veteran guy at the deadline? I think someone like Mike Knuble could be a good fit and could be obtained at a reasonable price.
–Dorno, Pittsfield, Mass.

Mike Knuble is one of my favorite people in the NHL. He is a rock-solid guy in the room, takes three bruises per shift if that's what it takes to create traffic in front, and has shown that he can score: at least 24 goals every season since the lockout until this year. For whatever reason, he has fallen out of favor in Washington and has been a healthy scratch of late. That should make him a bargain price. The question that Peter Chiarelli, Jim Benning and Don Sweeney have to ascertain from the information their scouts are bringing back is: Has Knuble reached his expiration date? Knuble has scored only three goals in 53 games as of this writing. If the Bruins bring him back, they will expect production. If the scouts don't think he can produce any more at age 39 (40 on July 4), not even a bargain is justifiable. 

With Nathan Horton out with another concussion, do you think the Bruins should look to add another top line forward at the trade deadline?
–Mike Taylor, Lanesboro

They would like to do it, but as we pointed out last week there are very few absolute "sellers" and a whole lot of would-be buyers. Rick Nash, now being publicly shopped by Columbus, is a tantalizing talent but will cost a raft full of young talent and put a whopper of a number on the salary cap — so if that doesn't work out perfectly (and the spring of 2011 provides a pretty good reference point for Bruins fans) you have the chance to wreck "The Plan" by absorbing his $7.8 million through 2018 (gulp).  Jeff Carter? No interest from this quarter — he simply hasn't played hard enough often enough to justify $5.27 million through 2022 (double gulp, gag reflex). The deadline equation is so warped with demand so vastly greater than supply that it's hard to see many deals that make sense. There isn't a lot in Providence that other teams want. Ryan Spooner, Jared Knight and Doug Hamilton are the next wave and should be untouchable unless Chiarelli gets exactly the player he wants at exactly the price. Should the Bruins add a forward? Horton leaves a hole, but the price to fill it is prohibitive. 

Since this last stretch of the season is close between the Rangers and the Bruins, who do you think will finish in the Conference and do you see them facing each other in the playoffs this year?
–Billy, Saugus, Mass.

We said as we finished our game coverage Tuesday night that the Rangers clearly have proven themselves as the best team in the East. Since the division winners are automatically seeded 1-2-3 and the Rangers have a 10-point lead with a game in hand in the Atlantic, the Bruins have a four-point lead and a preposterous five games in hand in the Northeast, and the gap between the Rangers and Bruins is nine points — it's over. The Rangers will have to pull a Hindenburg not to win the East. Unless the Bruins cannot find their way out of their malaise, it looks as if they are headed for a No. 2 seed. If that 1-2 scenario plays out, the only way TD Garden fans will see the Rangers again this season is in the Eastern Conference Final. What a chapter in the rivalry that would be. I see the Rangers getting there. The Bruins need to pick it back up to win two rounds to meet them.

Who was your favorite Bruin growing up?
–Graeme Seidel via Facebook

When Bobby Orr went flying through Glenn Hall's crease on Mother's Day in 1970, I bolted through the front door and grabbed my street hockey stick. As I reached the street, I saw about half a dozen of my buddies flying out of their homes — and my next-door neighbor was already dragging out his aluminum goal with the shredded net. We played until it was too dark to see the ball, taking turns hoisting one another's ankles with our sticks and ruining the knees of our blue jeans. In the history of sport, only a few players actually have changed the way the game is played. Bobby Orr made hockey faster, more dynamic, more of an integrated five-skater game, and simply more exciting. He was, and is, the greatest player ever to lace up skates and is my biggest hero to this day. No other defenseman has led the league in scoring and he did it twice. He was plus-124 in a 78-game season in 1971, a record I am confident will outlive you and me. He incorporated speed, courage, strategy, skill and humility into a package that doesn't seem possible. I'm just happy to be on the same planet as that guy. 

Jack, why doesn't the NHL make fighting a 4-on-4 instead of 5-on-5. That would make things much more enjoyable to watch. It would open the ice up for a full five minutes and make the fights more meaningful. What do you think?
–Vaughn Gardiner, Augusta

The problem is this: what if the Bruins are up three goals on an inferior team, but the opponent has a handful of super-skilled players? Wouldn't they be wise to goon it up, reduce the game to 4-on-4, open up the ice, and give themselves a chance to get back in the game?  Similarly, if there is a fight during an uneven manpower situation, it doesn't reduce the game to 4-on-3 — it stays 5-on-4. There is no personnel reduction for matching fighting majors because a team in the lead could, in essence, be put at a disadvantage merely by defending itself. I wouldn't want to see it.  

Aside from the Rangers, which team presents the biggest challenge for the Bruins in the East?
–Tony, Chicopee, Mass.

Carolina. No, just kidding. The Hurricanes aren't going to make the playoffs — and that's fortunate for the Bruins because the Canes swept the season series for the first time (including the stinkin' Whale days). Seriously, Pittsburgh is going to leave marks on whatever team(s) it plays. The Penguins are really heavy along the walls, they finish their checks and close-off a lot of seams. The gigantic "if" is whether or not the best player in the game can return, healthy, to lead them. Add Sidney Crosby to the Pens and it's a world of trouble for the NHL. Pittsburgh is a team that is on every contender's radar.

Good questions again this week, NESN.com'ers. Warm regards from snowy Montreal. We'll be tweeting as usual @RealJackEdwards on Twitter and we'll chat again from the midwest as the Bruins swing through Minnesota and St. Louis next week.

Have a question for Jack Edwards? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNJackEdwards or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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