Bruins Get Busy at Deadline


Since hiring Trevor Cook as their GM shortly after the start of the 2020-21 season, the Boston Bruins had been pretty quiet. Cook largely sat back and assessed what he had, with the only move he made sending Jake DeBrusk and Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen to Calgary for Zach Sanford and Justin Barron.

In a busy EHE trade deadline week, that changed in a hurry.

The ten days leading up to and including the EHE Trade Deadline saw 30 trades, 11 of which featured the Bruins.

Cook had often mentioned when he took over the team that he really liked how the team had been built. The Bruins lacked a little up front but had a ton of defensive depth, both on the current lineup and in the system, and most of it was very young. Even with expansion upcoming, Cook had figured his best option was to protect 4 forwards and 4 defenseman, which likely would've left Noah Hanifin as the odd man out, and stomach that loss.

But only protecting 3 defenseman lets a team protect 7 forwards total, and Hanifin was a big piece to lose for free. After going over various iterations of what his roster could look like, Cook caused a bit of a stir by placing arguably the EHE's best defenseman, Victor Hedman, on the trade block along with Hanifin.

It was more than a week after that conversation that Hedman was moved to the New York Rangers in what was easily the biggest of Boston's 11 moves. Hedman was traded along with Tyler Benson and Brett Connolly in exchange for Evgeni Malkin, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Casey Mittelstadt, and prospect Drew Helleson. Adding Malkin to the mix gave the Bruins another elite forward and some serious star power with him and Jack Eichel down the middle, while Bellemare is a terrific defensive forward and Mittelstadt a former high draft pick that finally looked like he was starting to come into his own. The Bruins like 2019 2nd round pick Helleson quite a bit, as well.

That led to the second big move, with previous #2C David Krejci being traded with Evgenii Dadonov, Nolan Foote, and a 6th round pick to Tampa Bay for Anthony Mantha, Brandon Sutter, Egor Spiridonov, and a 4th rounder. With only one year left and the Bruins using their last franchise tag on Malkin, Krejci was on his way out after the season while the main piece in the return, winger Anthony Mantha, filled a hole for Boston on the left side and is an RFA after the season. Sutter, meanwhile, played one game for Boston before eventually being flipped with a 3rd round pick to Columbus for Paul Byron, a third-line left winger with two years left on his contract who joins Bellemare and Colton Sissons to give the Bruins an excellent shutdown line.

With the intention of trading Hanifin, the Bruins also seeked to add a couple of veteran defenseman that would allow them to keep fielding a competitive blueline if he were moved out. That led to the acquisition of Zach Bogosian from Calgary for Josh Brown and a 5th round pick and to the addition of Nick Holden from Washington (along with prospect Justin Sourdif) in a trade for Alex Alexeyev and William Lagesson. Holden has a second year on his contract but is unlikely to be attractive to an expansion team as a 33-year-old depth defenseman making $2.6 million. After a Hanifin deal was officially consummated on deadline day, sending him to Florida for prospects William Wallinder and Oskar Back, the Bruins moved a couple more late draft picks to Winnipeg to acquire Marco Scandella.

The Bruins made a few other moves with no impact on their pro roster, too, sending Martin Pospisil to Ottawa for a 5th round pick and acquiring Bobo Carpenter from Carolina for a 7th rounder in a minor deal, while adding draft picks for some prospects in a couple of other moves that saw Noel Gunler and Justus Annunen shipped to Minnesota for 2021 1st and 3rd rounders, and Alex Romanov and a 4th sent to Ottawa for Lucas Elvenes and another 2021 1st rounder.

All told, the Bruins shifted a bit of their organizational strength on defense to forward with the trading of Romanov and Alexeyev and the acquisition of Elvenes and Sourdif, while also adding back some solid defense prospects in other deals with Wallinder and Helleson. Gunler and Foote were two of the organizations top forward prospects, but the moves have left Boston with three 2021 first round picks, including two (Minnesota and their own) likely to be in the middle, and one (Ottawa's) likely to be later on. That will help them reshape the prospect pool a little, while the additions of Malkin, Byron, and Mantha give them a little bit more offensive punch going forward. Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens will likely be added to the forward group next season, too. Defensively, there's no doubt the loss of Hedman will be felt, yet the Bruins remain in good shape, able to carry Chychrun, Girard, and Pesce through expansion and augment them with Tobias Bjornfot, Jakub Zboril, Juuso Valimaki, Holden, and possibly Dante Fabbro.

"It was definitely a whirlwind week or so for us and we had a lot of great talks and a lot of options thrown around. Ultimately I think we came out of there with a pretty good plan in place for the rest of this season, maybe make a bit of a push for the post-season and I think we set ourselves up nicely, both for what comes after expansion and becoming a contender, and for forming a solid AHL organization and a deep prospect pool," said Cook after deadline day wrapped up.

The Bruins have currently won 4 in a row and are tied for the final playoff spot in the East with Toronto. They are 12 points back of third in the Atlantic Division, so it's likely that final wildcard spot that the Bruins will have to claim if they are indeed going to push for a playoff berth, however with the youth and talent in the system, this figures to be a team whose best days are ahead, whether they are able to sneak into the post-season this year or not.