Brad Marchand Struggling to Produce, But It’s Still Too Early for Bruins to Move On From Forward

Brad MarchandPeople across the world are currently counting down the days until Christmas, when they’ll be able to take some time off from work, exchange some gifts and eat a ton of food with reckless abandon. The Bruins are probably counting down the days as well, albeit for different reasons.

The B’s continue to roll having won seven of their last 10 games including a 2-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night in Boston. That successful stretch has come in the midst of a rash of injuries, an outbreak of the flu bug and a tough road trip though Canada. Just three games separate the Bruins and the league-wide Christmas break, which couldn’t come at a better time for one of the most banged-up clubs in the league.

NESN.com Bruins/NHL editor Mike Cole is also counting down the days until Christmas, but before he gets there, he’s got some mail to answer. While his mail pales in comparison to that of a jolly fellow to the north, he’s back with his weekly mailbag. Check that out below.

Watcha dooooing?
–@michaelFhurley via Twitter

And we’re off.

Does Jordan Caron get traded when everyone is healthy? Is Adam McQuaid the next one to go? How to you fix Brad Marchand?
–@rob_muzzy via Twitter

Rob Muzzy? Are you former Springfield Falcons captain Rob Murray? He was the absolute best. Anyway, there’s a lot to sink our teeth into here, so let’s take each question one by one.

The assumption that “everyone” will eventually get “healthy” is a pretty big assumption at this point, no? Let’s assume for the goodness’ sake that they do get healthy. The question then becomes, who exactly would be knocking down the door for Caron? He’s a nice enough player, maybe a third- or fourth-liner, but there probably isn’t a huge market for a player like that. He’s certainly not going to put any team over the top, but if someone’s looking to add depth, he might make sense. Caron will also be a restricted free agent after this season. He could maybe end up fitting in some sort of package in a bigger deal. Just don’t expect a major haul for a player like that.

McQuaid might make a little more sense to move. The Bruins certainly have a good host of defensemen when they’re all healthy, which might make someone expendable moving forward. I think that Kevan Miller has showed he can handle playing in the NHL, which could make it easier to move a player like McQuaid. That’s not saying they will, of course, but if you want to make a move, you have to give something up. It should also be noted and probably goes without saying that McQuaid’s health is a pretty important issue here as well.

The cop-out answer to fixing Marchand is to say that if I knew how to fix Marchand, I wouldn’t be writing a mailbag right now. But we kind of saw this with Milan Lucic last season where Claude Julien had to pretty much empty his “coaching toolbox,” with the last resort being sitting Lucic down as a healthy scratch. That last-ditch effort obviously isn’t an option right now, though, with the Bruins’ overall team health.

There’s talk going around about possibly trading Marchand. He’s not having the most productive year but is he worth moving?
–@Man_in_a_box via Twitter

Here’s hoping you get out of that box soon, man.

The production is nowhere near where the Bruins and Marchand want it to be this season. There is no doubting that. However, he has shown in the past that he can contribute and be an effective top-six forward.

The big issue is that Marchand has to actually start showing that, and he needs to do so on a more consistent level. This isn’t necessarily a talent issue. It’s easy to forget given all of the other things that Marchand is associated with, that he had scored 67 goals in 198 games over the three seasons prior to this year. We’ve seen him play well in spurts this year, but that doesn’t mean much if he can’t string it together. I think he’s shown enough over his time with the Bruins to make the case for sticking around for now at least, but general manager Peter Chiarelli has a track record of being unafraid to move players.

I don’t think it’s time to move Marchand, in large part because his stock is about as low as it’s been.

How will Shawn Thornton’s role changes when he comes back (whenever that is)? Do you think he’ll be playing more cautiously?
–@atsign_dan

This is a really good question, Dan. If Thornton comes back and is playing considerably more cautiously, he might as well just hang up his skates. No. 22 needs to be aggressive to be effective. That’s not limited to fighting, either. How many times have we seen over the course of Thornton’s time with the Bruins he and his linemates change the tenor of a game with an energetic shift? Just look back to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final to see what kind of emotional impact Thornton can have on a team.

I think you might see Thornton a little more skiddish in the first few games after returning, kind of similar to how he looked upon returning from his concussion last season. However, I think once he gets back into the flow of the game, we’ll see the same old Thornton out there.

Can I get some free Bruins tickets? :-)
–@jryandunn

I touched on this very pressing topic in last week’s mailbag. The answer remains the same this week: no.

Could there ever be a more intimidating defensive pairing than Yukon Cornelius and The Bumble?
–@GJFKessler

This question stems from my Christmas-centric Twitter avatar, which is currently Yukon Cornelius from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This question from Greg is fantastic. A defensive pairing of Yukon and The Bumble would be so good. First of all, The Bumble’s size is going to take up so much of the defensive zone. Good luck trying to get around this guy. You’re going to need a GPS to find any sort of shooting lanes. Yukon, on the other hand, seems like he’d be a guy you would just hate to play against. He’s going to take some liberties from time to time, and you better keep your head up coming through the neutral zone.

We can take this one even further, too. The entire Rudolph cast would probably make for a pretty solid hockey team.

You’ve got Yukon and the Bumble on the back end. Up front, I’ve got Sam the Snowman centering my top line. Can he move like he used to? No, of course not. He’s like a thousand years old. But he’s wise. He’s smart. He probably has unmatched hockey IQ and is always going to be in the right place. On his left, we’ll put Hermey. For some reason, I just get the feeling he would have a wicked shot from the wing, as a result of all that work in the toy shop. All of that handiwork builds up good wrist and forearm strength which gives him a deadly wrist shot. To finish off that line, I’m putting the Head Elf on the right wing. He’s got an anger to him that I love, and he’s going to make you work for every inch of ice.

Finally, we’ve got Santa in net because he’s fat.

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