It’s only nine games into the NHL season, and the Bruins sit at 5-4 following their 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers.
Tuukka Rask was outstanding in net once again, and is now 5-0 on the season when he starts. In his first five starts, Rask has a 1.20 goals against average and .961 save percentage. But before I give him too much credit and start saying he’s back to being one of the best goaltenders, each team he’s beaten (Columbus, Winnipeg, New Jersey, Detroit and Florida) are all in the bottom half of the league in goals per game to start the season.
Rask is pretty much the Clay Buchholz of the Bruins. Every time you think he’s turned a corner and will be reliable again, he’ll revert back to his old ways or get injured, and that’s just the way the world works.
Rask is having this early season success despite having a backline that is certainly in need of an upgrade.
Torey Krug looks lost out there and doesn’t have a point despite being an “offensive defenseman” and playing the third most minutes on the team. Same goes for Colin Miller, who looked promising in his time with the team last year, but only has one point and is a -5 on the year. Adam McQuaid… well we all know the story on him. John Michael-Liles is old and on his last legs. The only two players on the backend for the Bruins with a positive +/- are Zdeno Chara, who looks to have found a new spring in his step this year, and 19 year old stud Brandon Carlo.
The Bruins desperately need help on the defensive side of the puck, and have connected to numerous names throughout the last year, including Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks and the Winnipeg Jets’ Jacob Trouba. Both are under 25 and can be potentially top pairing defensemen in the near future and should help out the Bruins on the power play, which is currently dead last in the NHL, scoring on just 6.3% of their opportunities.
Fowler, 24, certainly seems to be out the door after the Ducks extended fellow defenseman Hampus Lindholm to a six year contract and with Anaheim having a surplus of young defenseman and needing a scoring punch up front. Fowler is a free agent in 2018, and carries a four million dollar cap hit until then.
Trouba, 22, wants out of Winnipeg over a contract dispute and is a restricted free agent following this season.Trading for Trouba would likely require an agreement to a contract extension before a deal is made. Trouba, a right shot defenseman, would likely jump on the second defensive pair for Boston.
Getting one of these two promising and talented defenseman would likely require trading Ryan Spooner, who’s value is decreasing with every day based on his play this year (one goal, one assist, -3 in eight games), a high draft pick and maybe another player on the back end for the Bruins.
Brandon Carlo’s name has been floated around as well, but with recently traded young players Tyler Seguin and Martin Jones blossoming into promising stars, the B’s should be wary about moving a player with Carlo’s youth and upside.
Fowler’s trade market is quiet for the moment, with Anaheim looking like Stanley Cup contenders early, but if the Ducks scoring continues to lag behind, he could be on the move.
Winnipeg is deep at defense, especially right handed defensemen. Trouba requested a trade from the Jets and hasn’t played in a game this year. The Bruins should jump all over the opportunity to pick up such a young defenseman, as Chara and Michael-Liles are both on the way out soon. Eventually, Winnipeg is going to want to move him for someone who actually wants to play for them, and the Bruins should be right there to match at the right price.
Tuukka Rask has had to stand on his head a lot so far this season. While the B’s are just above .500, past seasons have taught us this team will fade down the stretch defensively. Rask is prone to soft goals and a big body like Trouba or Fowler could help clear the traffic in front of Rask and make the Bruins a potential contender in the Eastern Conference.
Cover Photo via Ottawa Citizen