Two prominent NHL experts believes the Boston Bruins are a better team now than they were one week ago.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski on Friday issued the Bruins an A- grade for the moves they made at the NHL trade deadline moves. Boston acquired left wing Taylor Hall and center Curtis Lazar from the Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Mike Reilly from the Ottawa Senators on Monday. They traded winger Anders Bjork, their second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and their third-round pick in 2022 as part of the deals.
Kaplan and Wyshynski conclude Bruins general manager Don Sweeney didn’t miss any deadline opportunities and give the team such a high grade because it boosted its present prospect without sacrificing their chance for success in coming seasons.
“Boston wants to win one more Stanley Cup with its veteran core, and you’ve got to admire the urgency, while also balancing the imperative to avoid mortgaging the future,” Kaplan and Wyshynski wrote.
“Scoring, especially outside of the Bruins’ top line, has been an issue all season. Sure, Hall scored only two goals in 37 games. Boston is banking that the winger’s absurdly low 2.3 shooting percentage portends that he’s due for an outburst — or, at the very least, more production — now that he’s in a better lineup with a lesser role. The Bruins also get to audition him to see whether they want to commit long term.
“Don’t discount Lazar’s impact on a checking line. Meanwhile, Reilly should be a sneaky good blue-line pickup.”
The early returns on the trades have been good, as the arrivals of Hall, Lazar and Reilly have generated excitement, and the Bruins won both games they’ve played since the deadline.
Boston will play 15 more regular season games, during which head coach Bruce Cassidy will look to integrate the new players fully into his system and establish good chemistry and a steady rhythm heading into the postseason.
How Boston fares in the Stanley Cup Playoffs will factor heavily into the season-ending grades Kaplan and Wyshynski give the team, but it looks like things are trending in a positive direction.