While they ended up not making (at least on the surface) the sexier move of trading for Mark Stone from Ottawa or Wayne Simmonds from Philadelphia, the Bruins still were busy right up until Monday afternoon’s NHL trade deadline.
Last Wednesday, they flipped Ryan Donato and a conditional fifth-round draft pick (it becomes a fourth-round pick if the B’s reach the second round of the playoffs) to the Minnesota Wild for fellow forward and Massachusetts native Charlie Coyle.
In a lesser move on Sunday, the B’s signed veteran winger Lee Stempniak (who has been practicing with the team sporadically this season and recently joined the Providence Bruins) and assigned him to Providence. Finally, right as the deadline approached on Monday afternoon, the Bruins traded a second-round pick in 2019 and a fourth-round pick in 2020 to the New Jersey Devils for winger Marcus Johansson, who like Coyle is also a former first-round pick. The Devils will retain 40-percent of his salary ($4.75 million) remaining this season.
Johansson (119 goals and 212 assists in 578 games with nine goals and 21 assists in 72 playoff games) is naturally a left winger so he figures to slot in on the second line with David Krejci at center and Jake DeBrusk at right wing.
In his Bruins debut on Saturday (a 2-1 shootout loss at St. Louis), Coyle was the third line center with rookie Peter Cehlarik on the left and David Backes on the right. From my perspective, the Coyle trade is much more notable given the talent that the Bruins had to give up. Donato had been relegated to Providence lately but he has too much talent to be stuck there.
Boston has a brutal recent history of giving up on young goal-scorers too soon (Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin) and you couldn’t help but notice that the Wild have won their first three games with Donato while he’s racked up an overtime game-winning goal and three assists already.
The Bruins have been courting Coyle for years and GM Don Sweeney finally got their man. The Weymouth native and former BU star was drafted by San Jose but played his entire NHL career (this is his 7th season) in Minnesota. In 480 games, he’s scored 91 goals and added 151 assists. In 44 playoff games, he’s had seven goals and eight assists. His versatility (being able to play center or on the wing) along with his strong defensive work should make him a good fit. He has plenty of skill too as evidenced by his shootout goal vs. the Blues (he was the only Bruin out of six shooters to score).
“I’ve been to plenty of Bruins games over the years,” noted Coyle. “I just loved that, to take it all in, wishing we were out there with them. I just loved growing up, being there and watching them on TV. It’s pretty cool growing up in a hockey city and community, I’m glad to be a part of it now.”
Coyle makes his Garden debut as a Bruin on Tuesday (7, NESN) as they take on the Sharks. Boston had a great Western Conference road trip (4-0-1) that ended over the weekend and that included an insane 6-5 overtime win at San Jose last Monday. If that rematch isn’t hard enough, the best team in hockey — Tampa Bay (47-11-4) — comes to town on Thursday (7:30, NBCSN). Those will be tough tests right away for Johansson and Coyle with their new teammates. Boston is here for the next two weeks as they begin a season-long six-game homestand.