It’s always a good thing to be active at the trade deadline, especially if you’re in the buyer’s market.
The Boston Bruins were just that, acquiring two offensive pieces prior to Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline. The first trade was made last Wednesday, as the B’s added 26-year-old forward Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Ryan Donato and a 2019 conditional fifth-round draft pick. The second trade was made just before the deadline on Monday, as the Bruins acquired 28-year-old forward Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 fourth-rounder.
That’s some good, experienced offensive depth — which was needed, especially while David Pastrnak continues to recover from thumb surgery.
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But if you had told me earlier in the season that the Bruins would’ve traded Donato and three draft picks — which included a second-rounder — then I absolutely would’ve told you they’d receive something better than Coyle and Johansson.
I realize that sounds like a knock on Coyle and Johansson. But it’s actually meant to praise Wayne Simmonds, who was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Nashville Predators on Monday in exchange for 24-year old forward Ryan Hartman and a 2020 conditional fourth-round pick, which becomes a third-round pick if the Predators win a round in the playoffs this year.
Simmonds seems like the type of player you either love or hate, though the hockey fans who love him — like myself — can’t understand how anyone could possibly not feel the same way.
Especially here in Boston this past Monday.
Simmonds is 30 years old. He’ll be a free agent after this season. So, he might very well be just a rental for Nashville.
That shouldn’t be an excuse for the Bruins. After all, Johansson is also a free agent this summer. And the B’s gave up a better draft pick to get Johansson than what Nashville had to give up to get Simmonds.
Don’t tell me a first-rounder wouldn’t have landed Simmonds in Boston. Or how about if they had not traded Donato for Coyle? Donato and the 2019 second-rounder that went to New Jersey would’ve probably been enough to get Philadelphia to agree to trade Simmonds to the Bruins.
Don Sweeney obviously thought a combination of Coyle and Johansson would be better than just adding Simmonds. And even though the B’s are off to a great post-trade-deadline start after beating the San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning, I would’ve preferred Simmonds over Johansson and Coyle.
Simmonds’ numbers are down this year, but his story, I believe, is the classic case of needing a change of scenery. He’s spent the last seven-and-a-half years in Philadelphia. During that time with the Flyers, he never advanced to the Stanley Cup Playoffs two years in a row. And in his last three playoff appearances, the Flyers were bounced in the first round.
He only had fewer than 24 goals once while in Philly, but that was because of the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13, when he scored 15 goals in 45 games. In 62 games with the Flyers this season, Simmonds scored 16 goals. That’s six more goals than Coyle and four more goals than Johansson.
For all the heat that former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli takes around here, Sweeney’s deadline moves this season seem eerily similar to Chiarelli’s deadline acquisitions in 2011, when he traded for Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. Kelly had 12 goals with Ottawa that season and Peverley had 14 goals with Atlanta, before being traded to Boston.
Sure, that ended up working out for the Bruins, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that season. It proved that offensive depth is, in fact, a very good thing to have. Still, I’ll take the better player over two depth pieces any day of the week. And Simmonds is a better player than both Coyle and Johansson. I’m not even sure how that could be argued.
But the Bruins obviously weren’t in love with Simmonds, for whatever reason. However, they might feel differently if he’s hoisting the Stanley Cup in Nashville this summer.
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