Grading Don Sweeney and the Bruins midseason trades, and how they will effect the rest of the Bruins season.
I am not one of those Bruins fans that hates everything Don Sweeney does. In fact, I think that he has done a really great job since taking over the general manager position in 2015. His drafting has been mostly very strong, and last season's trades for Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansen really helped the Bruins on their Stanley Cup Final run. Complaints about Sweeney are usually ones with little to back them up.
Trading for Ondrej Kase was a really good move. In all honesty, all you are giving up is what will be a very low first round pick. David Backes is no longer an NHL player, and it is highly unlikely that prospect Axel Anderson ever makes it in the show. Even if he does get to that level, he is just behind way to many defenseman on the Bruins depth chart. Fringe players at the moment above him include Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, and Urho Vaakanainen. There is just no room for Anderson.
If I was a Anaheim Ducks fan, I would not be happy with that move. I just don't understand trading a solid NHL player like Kase, who is just 24, for a pick that will most likely be near the very beginning of the first round. You are certainly not going to get anything out of Backes, and like I said earlier, Anderson is a long shot as well. Just not a great trade for the Ducks.
Ideally the Bruins are going to want Kase on the second line on David Krejci's wing, a fellow Czech Republic native. I really think that their styles will fit well together. In general, I think that Krejci will just be happy to finally have someone set on his right wing. He and left winger Jake DeBrusk have been accompanied by a good half the team on that wing in different parts of the season. If Kase can prove his worth with those two guys, it would be a huge boost to the Bruins, whose second line has at times struggled to score this season.
Bruins grade: A
The Bruins wanted a forward who was going to throw his body around, especially on the forecheck, and that is what they went out and got. Anaheim Ducks fans complained about the amount of penalties that Nick Ritchie takes, but the difference here is that Bruins fans don't care if he takes physical penalties. Boston fans love physical play, and that is what Ritchie brings to the table. In addition, he has played a lot with Ondrej Kase, and a line made up of those two on David Krejci's wing might really click. Krejci loves having a tough player who is going to crash the net on his line, and Ritchie provides that.
So many Bruins fans disliked Danton Heinen, and it was really unjustified. I get it, he is not a huge goal scorer, but that is just not his game. He is very good defensively, and makes the little plays that many simply do not notice when watching him. He might not be a flashy player, but don't be mistaken, he is still an above average NHL player.
Although I am sad to see Heinen go, I still think that this is a good trade for both teams. The Bruins beef up, and the Ducks add someone who could really pick up his game in a change of scenery. There are concerns about Ritchie's fitness and stamina, but hopefully those can improve with a team contending for the Cup.
Bruins grade: B
Recently, the Bruins second line has been David Krejci centering Ondrej Kase and Brett Ritchie. I really hope that Bruce Cassidy keeps that group together. Not only do I think that those three will fit well together, but that also makes the third line of Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, and Anders Bjork really strong. They will be tough to stop. Overall, I like these moves by the Bruins. They are clearly one of the Cup favorites, and in my opinion these moves help them. They were one game away last season, but fingers crossed that they get the job done this year.