Joseph A. Griswold -Assistant Sports Editor
The Boston Bruins look to continue the championship parade following both the Patriots and Red Sox bringing home their respective titles. Following the Patriots Super Bowl victory, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy kept it simple, “We’re next.”
Cassidy, who has been behind the bench for two seasons, believes this team has what it takes to hoist the Stanley Cup. With top players, Brad Marchand, David Pasternak and Patrice Bergeron performing at an incredible level it seems hard to doubt Cassidy.
Despite the confidence, the Bruins still have areas that need improving. The Bruins have struggled in the same area since their playoff exit last year: scoring goals.
Much of last year the Bruins, for the most part, were a team that relied heavily on their first-line to produce a majority of their goals. This year has been no different, as the first line has accounted for over 40 percent of their goals as a team.
Cassidy has tried his best to reshuffle the lineup and work from within the Bruins. However, he has been unable to solve the Bruins’ secondary scoring woes.
Luckily, the Bruins hold a large number of assets they can move before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. With that being said, the Bruins have learned since last years Rick Nash trade and do not plan to expend a lot of young talent for a rental. Here are the most viable options that will push the Bruins into the championship conversation.
Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers: Simmonds, the long-time Flyer could be the answer for the Bruins scoring woes. The 30-year-old winger has averaged almost 30 goals in each of his last five seasons. Further, Simmonds is a proven playoff competitor and a dynamic scorer on the power play. Although Simmonds is currently on an expiring contract, the Bruins would not have to expend much to bring in a proven playoff scorer.
Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets: Panarin, the former Blackhawk and current Blue Jacket is the crown jewel of the trade market. Panarin posses game-changing talent and is a proven sniper and playmaker. Unfortunately, for the Bruins, Panarin would come at a high cost, likely in the form of Jake Debrusk and accompanying picks.
Ryan Dzingel, Ottawa Senators: Dzingel holds the most risk of any of the trade targets. His numbers have increased in each of the last four years; however, with little playoff experience it is uncertain what he can attribute down the road.
The Bruins are once again on the cusp of being a Stanley Cup contender. Much like last year they require another scoring presence in their top six forwards.
The player that can benefit the Bruins the most, while still keeping their current forwards in tact is Flyers’ winger Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds can supply scoring while also bringing the physical brand of hockey required for the playoffs.
Last year the Bruins made the wrong move at the deadline and it cost them a shot at the Stanley Cup. If the Bruins plan on joining the Patriots and Red Sox, Bruce Cassidy and general manager Don Sweeney must learn from last year’s mistakes.