The Boston Bruins weren’t going to sit idly by and let Monday’s NHL trade deadline go by without a peep. That’s not in Don Sweeney’s nature.
The Bruins on Friday acquired Czech winger Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks in a trade that very much has the potential to improve Boston not only in the short term but in the long run, too.
Assuming Kase gets healthy — he hasn’t played since early February — he’ll help the Bruins. Sweeney said Friday on a conference call that Kase will either skate on the second line alongside countryman David Krejci or on the third line next to Charlie Coyle. Kase hasn’t fulfilled his potential yet. He hasn’t scored more than 20 goals in a season, but that’s also in part because he’s never played more than 66 games.
But the opportunities, looking at the advanced stats, sure are there.
Take it away, @Bruins_Stats.
Over the last 2.5 seasons Kase ranks 27th out of 492 forwards in 5v5 expected goals per 60, tied with McDavid, just ahead of Bergeron and Seguin.
His goals per 60 ranks 25th, just below Marchand, tied with Atkinson, Tarasenko, Point.
— Bruins Stats (@bruins_stats) February 21, 2020
Admittedly, they don’t give out the Stanley Cup for “5v5 expected goals,” but those stats do seem to point to Kase playing better than his traditional stats might indicate. Being tied with Connor McDavid for anything seems good, too. You also have to consider he’s been playing on an Anaheim team that is going nowhere, so he’s not surrounded by a bunch of talent. That will change in Boston.
But what makes this trade especially encouraging is what might follow. By unloading 75 percent of David Backes’ cumbersome contract and replacing it with Kase’s $2.6 million salary cap hit, Sweeney has given himself wiggle room. The Bruins, according to the Bruins’ Cap Space account on Twitter, now have roughly $5 million in cap space to play with if they want to make another trade before Monday’s deadline. Maybe Rangers winger Chris Kreider is still on the table. Boston can fit his $4.625 million cap hit. If Sweeney is somehow able to pry someone like Kyle Palmieri from the Devils, the Bruins can make it work financially.
The only “drawback” from Friday’s trade is Boston no longer has its 2020 draft pick. That selection likely will come in the high 20s, so it’s not like the B’s just gave up the chance to draft a generational player. Where it could hurt, however, is in trade talks over the next couple of days. That’s a card Boston can no longer play before Monday afternoon’s deadline.
It is, however, worth noting that first-round pick was used in part to get the Ducks to take on Backes’ contract, which frees up not only the short-term cap space but into the summer, too. The Bruins are now projected to have about $22 million this summer, which will be vital for a team that will try to re-sign defensemen Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara in addition to a handful of restricted free agents highlighted by Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk.
These are all good things. The Bruins made themselves better Friday while giving themselves the chance to improve even more by the deadline. They didn’t have to sacrifice the future to do so, either, and instead actually set themselves up for future success, too.
A good day for Sweeney, indeed.