By: Patrick Donnelly
Aside from early goaltending and defensive struggles, the Bruins most glaring issue so far this season has been secondary depth scoring. Outside of the first line, which has combined for 71 points in 18 games, the other nine forwards have turned up with almost nothing: just 40 points.
On a side note, David Krejci has been great with two goals, 13 assists, and 16 points in those 18 games, but other than him, the next highest point-getters for the forwards are Jake Debrusk (nine points) and Danton Heinen (five).
The most glaring issue has been the third line and the black hole on David Krejci’s right wing, aside form small bursts from Joakim Nordstrom. Danton Heinen and Anders Bjrok have looked quite good on the third unit, although they just haven’t found the results on the scoresheet.
As for the centers, David Backes has been straight up bad this season with zero points, Sean Kuraly looked out of place at the start of the season, and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson has looked great in the last two games. JFK may be the piece the third line needed; he just needs to find the scoresheet now.
Looking at the second line, the lack of consistent production on Krejci’s right has seemingly been an issue since the days of Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, and Jarome Iginla on the flanks. Last year, the line found success with DeBrusk and Ryan Spooner on the wings, but after trading Spooner for Rick Nash, the second line slowed down, largely due to Nash dealing with a concussion.
Overall, it has been a revolving door on Krejci’s wing for the better part of the last four seasons before the emergence of Jake DeBrusk last season. Loui Eriksson, Frank Vatrano, Lee Stempniak, Jimmy Hayes, Drew Stafford, and Brett Connolly, to name a few, all came and went either without doing much of anything or providing a permanent solution.
So, let’s take a look at some potential trade solutions if no one emerges from within:
Starting with the elephant in the room, Panarin has been a guy Bruins fans have been clamoring for after he was mentioned in the same breath as the Bruins in a few rumors. The 27-year-old Russian had a meteoric rise to stardom after tallying 30 goals and 77 points as a rookie with the Chicago Blackhawks three seasons ago. Panarin followed up his breakout season with 31 goals and 74 points the next season, and 27 goals and 82 points last year after being dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the offseason.
A pending unrestricted free agent, Panarin’s name has been in trade rumors since the end of last season, reportedly wishing to play in a big east coast market (like Boston).
Here’s the catch, Panarin’s wishes also include big money compared to his current $6-million cap hit, and why not? He’s earned it, but the reported asking price that starts with Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, and possibly a pick or prospect. In that regard, absolutely not.
Charlie McAvoy is among the Bruins’ untouchables and trading him this early in his very promising career would be a complete and utter mistake; however, I would reluctantly be willing to listen on a package that involves DeBrusk, purely because of the talent the Bruins have on the wing outside of him, like Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, and Ryan Donato.
With or without McAvoy in the equation, I would be extremely hesitant in going after a guy who has explicitly made it his goal to chase paper in Artemi Panarin, barring a contract extension already being in place.
Silfverberg’s name hasn’t been tossed around much in rumors really, but it is worth taking a look at him, given the Ducks’ current situation and the Tanner Pearson trade on Wednesday. In the Pearson trade, the Penguins made a one-for-one swap, sending Carl Hagelin to the Kings in exchange for Pearson. This move hints that Los Angeles could be throwing in the towel as they are sitting in dead last in the entire league and have not played well at all.
As for Anaheim, it will be interesting to see if they follow suit, depending on how things shake out for the Ducks over the next few weeks. The Ducks haven’t been quite as bad as the Kings as they sit 21st in the league, but have gone 3-5-2 in their last ten games and have been on a rocky start. With the end of their window clearly in sight as aging veterans abound, Anaheim may want to recoup some assets to set themselves up for the future.
That setup brings me to Jakob Silfverberg, who has managed to post five goals, five assists, and ten points through 16 games this season. The 28-year-old has been fairly consistent over his career, hovering around 20 goals and 40-50 points during the last few seasons, and has a very manageable $3.75-million cap hit for the remainder of this season before he hits free agency.
Whether or not the Bruins should re-sign or extend him is a different story. Silfverberg has not really had the most dynamic setup men at center on the second line as well as Ryan Kesler completely fell off a cliff in terms of offensive output in recent seasons. So, perhaps putting him on a line with a talented playmaker like David Krejci could potentially elevate the Swede’s game.
What would it take to get him? The cost would certainly be far steeper than Panarin; I think the Bruins could get away with a solid prospect like Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Lauko, or Zach Senyshyn, a decent pick (second or third round), and maybe even a younger roster player like Danton Heinen or Anders Bjork
No this isn’t that other Simmons from Philadelphia, but Ben, shoot a three you coward. Simmonds has been in trade in trade rumors for the better part of two seasons now. Since 2013-14, Simmonds has been a terrific second line player on the Flyers; his point totals each year since and including 2013-14 are: 60, 50, 60, 54, and 46 points last season in what was a “down” year marred by injury for the “Wayne Train.” Simmonds’ goal totals stemming from 2013-14 are: 29, 28, 32, 31, and 24 goals.
The 30-year-old is also the quintessential, bruising power forward Bruins purists have been demanding since the days of Milan Lucic and he would be a perfect fit on David Krejci’s wing. So far, in 17 games this year, Simmonds has come out strong with seven goals and 10 points as the Flyers got out to a rough start, sitting at 19th overall in the NHL.
As for what it would take to get Simmonds, I’d start with a similar package like Silfverberg: Cehlarik, a decent pick, and maybe Danton Heinen. Cehlarik seems like the most viable prospect option to trade right now: he was performed quite well in Providence the last few years, he looked good in his cup of tea at the NHL level, there doesn’t seem to be a spot for him on the roster, and at this point it looks like he’s wasting away in the AHL right now.
Simmonds would certainly be my top pick out of these options; it wouldn’t be crazy expensive to acquire him and, like Silfverberg, Simmonds carries a team friendly $3.95-million cap hit for the rest of this season before free agency. Although, re-signing or extending him and whether or not the Bruins should is a completely different animal too, but you don’t want to see picks and young talent go to waste on a “rental” as in the case of Rick Nash last season.