The Skate Podcast: Do the Bruins have enough bulk on defense for a Stanley Cup run?

February 20, 2020 - 4:34 pm

The NHL trade deadline isn’t until Monday, but many NHL general managers were active this week, especially Tuesday.

That was when four defensemen, including Brenden Dillon of the San Jose Sharks, were dealt. Dillon went to the Washington Capitals for a second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound left-handed shot would’ve been just the type of player that could’ve helped the Bruins. Even as a rental, that price Washington paid was quite fair. On this week’s abbreviated, pre-deadline edition of The Skate Pod, co-hosts Ken Laird and Matt Kalman discussed the Bruins’ need to add via trade and whether adding a top-six forward will be enough to make them a Stanley Cup team.

Considering the Bruins had been connected to Dillon in the rumor mill, Laird wondered why the Bruins didn’t win the bidding.

“I think it was a pretty fair deal, considering there were so many teams interested in him. He’s the type of player that every team is looking for this time of year, especially teams with a chance to win the Cup. … I honestly don’t know why the Bruins didn’t maybe outbid the Capitals on that one,” Kalman said.

“If you look at it, you really hope that when they’re assessing this team that they don’t think they’re big enough and strong enough on defense to get through after what happened to them last year, what we’ve seen happen to them sometimes this year.

“If you mix in a Brendan Dillon instead of a John Moore, it makes a big difference toward holding up against these bigger, heavier teams when the playoff games get tighter. You’ve got to wonder if they have a Plan B on that front, but somehow you get the feeling that they’re just maybe shopping for forwards and they’re kind of content on defense again.

“Jeremy Lauzon’s been nice, but you’re not sure how much he’s going to be able to perform in the playoffs considering his lack of experience. And we know what Connor Clifton is, he’s still young and learning. And so again, you don’t necessarily want those guys to be leaned on too much in the playoffs.”

Laird pondered that if the Bruins get Chris Kreider from the New York Rangers or Kyler Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils to bolster their forward group, their fan base will be satisfied and send well wishes to general manager Don Sweeney. But then he looked at the defense depth and admitted:

“It’s almost ‘boy, we better stay healthy with our top six or we’ll be in trouble.’”

Kalman harkened back to an argument he made last year several times on Sunday Skate.

“Kreider clearly is going to be a big ask. … If you’re going to spend that much on the Kreider, why not sure up the defense?” Kalman wondered. “We talked about this last year. Who did we say the Bruins should’ve gotten before they started making the deals for forwards? When Jake Muzzin was out there they should’ve made the move, and clearly they came up short on defense over the stretch of the playoffs last year, they could’ve used a guy like that.

“They’re always kind of straddling the line. ‘We’re not going to throw all our prospects away, and picks, to add guys. We’re going to keep some look on the future.’ It didn’t work out. I mean they came up one game short, but maybe solidify everything and you won’t have to be in that situation again where you’re trying to win one game for all of it. Maybe you’ll be so good that you won’t have to be in that position.”

The guys also went over the Bruins missing out on Tyler Toffoli, who went from Los Angeles to Vancouver; what it’s going to take to acquire Palmieri; whether Tuukka Rask is emerging as the Vezina Trophy favorite, and they talked about the experience of live tweeting the “Miracle on Ice” U.S.-Russia game from 1980.

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