The Boston Bruins’ magical season continues. The Bruins are 38-5-4 heading out of the break and an incomprehensible 22-1-3 at home at the Boston Garden. More importantly, they’re 13 points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division, seven points better than the Carolina Hurricanes for the best record in the NHL.
At this pace, Boston would win 66 games, breaking the record of 62 set by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and tied by the 2018-19 Lightning. They would also shatter the 132-point mark attained by the storied 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, albeit in a season that was 80 games with no overtime.
While the Bruins would love to make history, they would prefer winning the Stanley Cup. Barring a fade down the stretch, Boston should finish with the best record in the league and home-ice advantage for as long as they remain alive in the playoffs.
Thus the objectives heading into the trade deadline on March 3rd and the run-in to April and the Cup chase are pretty straightforward. Add on to the roster where needed and keep everyone as healthy as possible.
Clear Stanley Cup Favorites
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Currently, the Bruins are the Cup favorites right now.
- Bruins +450
- Avalanche +600
- Hurricanes +800
- Maple Leafs +1000
- Lightning +1200
- Golden Knights +1300
- Oilers +1400
- Stars +1500
- Rangers +1600
- Devils +1600
The Bruins also lead the pack of favorites to win the Eastern Conference championship.
- Bruins +270
- Hurricanes +500
- Maple Leafs +550
- Lightning +600
- Devils +800
- Rangers +900
- Penguins +1200
Bruins Deadline Moves
The Bruins have few, if any, weaknesses. They are tied for the league lead with 3.81 goals per game and give up a league-best 2.02 GPG, over half a goal better than the Dallas Stars 2.56. Goalie Lance Ullmark paces qualified NHL netminders with a .938 save percentage and a 1.82 Goals Against Average. Additionally, he tops the league with a 28.17 Goals Saved Above Average, meaning given his save percentage and the number of shots he’s faced, he has kept virtually one extra goal out of the net per game in his 30 starts compared to the expected performance of an average league goalie.
Skating stars are everywhere. Right-wing David Pastrnak is second in league with 37 goals and third with 69 points. Defenseman Hampus Lindholm leads the league with a +/- of 34 and leads all defensemen who have played at least 800 minutes with a 68.57 percent goals-for rate in 5-on-5 situations, meaning when he’s on the ice, the Bruins score 68.57% of the goals. 37-year-old Patrice Bergeron has a 73.68 GF% and 34-year-old Brad Marchand tops even that at 75.68%
Lindholm does not even lead the team’s defenseman in GF% as Matt Grzelcyk has a 72.22 GF% and Brandon Carlo has a 69.57%, just in fewer minutes on the ice.
The scoring load is very balanced after Pastrnak. Seven Bruins have scored between 10 and 18 goals. Additionally, no Bruins have logged exceptionally high time-on-ice totals, as no forward averages over 20 minutes per game.
With all these riches and depth, what should the Bruins do at the trade deadline? They have stayed relatively healthy since Grzelcyk, Marchand, and Charlie McAvoy missed time early on. That, of course, is not guaranteed to hold up; thus, it makes sense for the Bruins to add depth pieces at the deadline. Here are a few players at various price points that would mesh well in Boston and will almost certainly move at the deadline.
With Bo Horvat signing an 8-year extension on Long Island, his ex-teammate Luke Schenn could become a target for the Bruins. The veteran defenseman is 33 and a bit on the downswing of his career. However, he has a 52.17 GF%, again pretty good on a bad team, and has played on two recent Cup-winning teams in Tampa Bay. He will not cost much in either trade capital or actual salary. In Boston, he would slot in as a sixth-seventh defenseman and reliable depth piece.
Should the Blues find themselves outside of a possible playoff birth, they could look to move Ryan O’Reilly or Ivan Barbashev. Barbashev, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, seems to be the better fit for Boston. The 27-year-old Blues pivot is a strong two-way player, and much like Schenn, his 50.94 GF% looks good relative to his team’s 46.7% mark. His prorated $2,250,000 cap hit would mean Boston wouldn’t need to move a position player to make space.
Barbashev scored a career-high 26 goals and 34 assists last season but has only found the net eight times thus far in 2022-23. He’d immediately add some scoring punch on Beantown’s third of the fourth line.
The Bruins do not particularly need anything, but with the team playing so well and stars from the 2011 Stanley Cup champs like Bergeron, Marchand, and 36-year-old David Krejci still in town and playing great, it makes sense to go all in for the 2022-23 Cup playoffs.