Hagg Bag: More ideas for Bruins roster improvements

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The Bruins are still in the playoff picture, and there is light at the end of the tunnel for Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara returning to the lineup. Everything should be happiness, sunshine and light in the world of the Black and Gold, right?

Well, it never seems to be the case in the Hagg Bag mailbag. So here once again are the real tweets from people to my twitter account, real messages to my NBCS Facebook fan page and real emails to my JHaggerty@nbcuni.com email account. Without further ado, let’s get on to the bag:

More than just a contract swap because I think each team would benefit. Lucic for Backes? Or, do you believe Edmonton and Boston just won't make a trade?

--Donald Cronk (@bignursedon)

JH: I still believe that Edmonton and Boston won’t make a trade based on past histories, and based on the no-movement clause for David Backes. Not many players with NMC’s are going to agree to uproot their young family and move to Edmonton in the middle of winter. That’s just the reality of the situation. But on its face, I’ve often wondered about this scenario. The Oilers would get a versatile, tough player and former NHL captain that could bring excellent leadership to a very young hockey team, and the Bruins would get their Looch back.

Sure, Lucic is a little older, not as productive offensively and probably not as mean and nasty on most nights as his body pays for logging some very hard miles. But he’s still ultra-tough and intimidating and still has the ability to protect Boston’s skill players like nobody is really doing up front with the forwards right now. It would be an even swap of salary, so the Bruins wouldn’t be paying anything extra in terms of a cap hit each and every season.

I think seeing No. 17 back in the Black and Gold would be a positive thing for the Bruins under certain conditions, and I’ve even be interested to see if a return to his old linemate could help spark up David Krejci as well. It would certainly be good for the entertainment value because Lucic is exactly the kind of player that the Bruins fans have always wanted in their lineup, and brings them the traditional identity that the team has always had. That identity isn’t completely there right now and they certainly need something to bring it back.

I’m still in favor of chasing after Wayne Simmonds at the trade deadline instead of this Backes/Lucic idea, but something along those lines is really needed for this season’s team to add size, toughness and a little intimidation factor.

With the aging centers the Bruins have, and no one else that shows top-line promise in the near future, why don’t the Bruins “Lose for Hughes”?!?! I’d be a big fan of it!
--Anthony DeMatteis

JH: Lose for Hughes? With a Bruins team that made it to the second round of the playoffs and is currently in a playoff spot, has arguably the best line in hockey with Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak and still has Stanley Cup champ veterans in Bergeron, Marchand, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask? They couldn’t be bad enough to drop all the way to the bottom with their defense and goaltending even if they wanted to tank for Jack Hughes, so it would honestly be pointless to even try. I understand wanting to get a young center that can be added to Bergeron and Krejci to bolster their attack down the middle, but trying to tank for Hughes isn’t the right way to do it for the Bruins. I just don’t think there’s any appetite for that kind of collapse from ownership or from management (understandably), and that’s where it would have to start.  

There is only one question Joe. What will the goal-scoring winger market be like come trade deadline? Who do you see fitting in here, and would DS part with Krug or DeBrusk? Is it worth it THIS season? It looks to me like they need a wholesale new third line.
--Matias Hallichuck (@mhall3333)

JH: Not sure I agree with you about the third line. I’ve started to see promising things from Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Danton Heinen. That will probably have to be the answer for the B’s: Going young, young, and younger on the third line while looking for speed and skill.

As far as the trade deadline market for goal-scoring wingers, we’ll have to see. It still feels like Artemi Panarin is going to get dealt by then, and the Flyers would have to trade Wayne Simmonds unless they pull a massive turnaround in the next few weeks. Jeff Carter with the Kings could be a useful player for the short term if the Bruins are looking for a goal-scoring boost on their second line. There’s a lot of chatter with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out in Edmonton, though I’m not sure he’s exactly what the Bruins need right now. Then there’s the grand prize of Vladimir Tarasenko with the talk that everybody on the St. Louis Blues roster could be available in the right trade.  

It looks like there are going to be a lot of options available to the Bruins if they’re patient and if they’re willing to give up something to get something around the deadline. I also suspect, though, that they’re not going to give up a first-round pick in this deal unless they get a younger player that’s going to be in Boston for a while. So factor that into your thinking after the B’s gave up a lot for Rick Nash last spring, and then watched as things didn’t work out with him.  

Hey Haggs,
First off I hope you are having a great holiday season. Let’s get down to business. In your opinion does a trade package of Krug, Donato, Bjork and a 3rd for Tarasenko seem like a fair price?? He would be a huge get for Krejci and DeBrusk on the second line! Also how does the upcoming draft look for center depth?? Bruins need to get a top-6 type center for the future in the next few upcoming drafts!! Thanks for the time and #Rasksucksingame7s 
Best Regards, Benjamin

JH: Thanks Ben. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well. I think you’re on the right track for the kind of package it would take to nab Vladimir Tarasenko, but I’d imagine there would have to a first-round pick involved. I also wonder if the Blues would be chasing after Bruins prospect and former first-round pick Trent Frederic, who is a St. Louis native and would be a real local hero for the Blues that they could market around if they were indeed going to rebuild. That’s something to keep in mind if anything really starts to percolate between the Bruins and the Blues around Tarasenko should he truly become available. As I wrote earlier, Don Sweeney needs to be bold and do anything and everything he can to acquire a guy like Tarasenko should he really be out there. You just have to wonder if that kind of trade happens after the season (but before his no-movement clause kicks in) given all the moving parts involved.  

What the hell happened to V9N? That kid was good but is his concussion so bad from that elbow that he’s not coming back?
--Jennifer Hubby (@hubbyjennifer)

JH: The Bruins say he got a case of the flu while coming back from his concussion, and that set him back in his recovery from both. Perhaps they’re just shutting him down until the World Junior tournament at the end of the month where he can play for Finland. Beyond that, it’s a little bit of a mystery, but it’s not surprising that the B’s are treating a former-first round pick like Vaakanainen very carefully. It’s exactly what they should do if they believe he’s a part of the long-term future in Boston, which he’s appeared to be since landing on North American soil this fall for NHL training camp.

Would you equate the original 1st line of the season to the Star Wars trio of Obi-wan Kenobi (Bergeron), Han Solo (@Bmarch63 ) and Luke Skywalker (@pastrnak96)? Older, wiser leader; Smart aleck scoundrel; Youngster who lets the Force guide him.
--Sean L. (@BDLinMa)

JH: I couldn’t have said it better myself, dude. The Force is strong in you. I’m not sure that Bergeron is quite the literal graybeard that Obi-Wan Kenobi was, but the overall gist of it is totally on point.

Hello Joe. Do you see Don Sweeney adding a true scorer for 2nd line wing or will he just settle on another 3rd and 4th line type guy they have plenty of? It seems to be his M.O. since taking over.
--Hooperdrivesboat (@hooperdrivesbo2)

JH: I think Don Sweeney knows he needs to add an offensive, goal-scoring dimension to that second line when everybody gets healthy. It’s been eye-opening to see David Krejci go for four goals and eight points over the last six games since he moved to centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak in the place of the injured Patrice Bergeron. It’s a reminder that No. 46 can still be extremely effective, and even dangerous, when he’s given legit goal-scoring weapons on his wings as he did in his best seasons with the Black and Gold.

They are at least one top-six winger short on their roster right now, and everybody, including the Bruins general manager, is well aware of it. It’s just going to take some time to fill that need ahead of the trade deadline. The good news is that the Bruins are good enough as currently constituted to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Hey Joe. Do you think the Bruins could be serious contenders for Matt Duchene if he goes to market?
--Mike Wasyluk (@mikewasyluk)

JH: I’d take a pass, and I don’t think the Bruins are too keen on him either. The fact that Colorado took off after trading him to Ottawa speaks volumes to me.

I'm ready for the Nugent-Hopkins, Forsbacka-Karlsson, Ekman-Larsson line
--Pete Kuncis (@pkuncis)

JH: And John Michael-Liles on defense too, right? We are most definitely in the age of the hyphenated names at the NHL level, so why shouldn’t the Bruins just collect them and corner the market on them. I mean after all, we also could have had Patrice Bergeron-Cleary if he chose that go that route with his NHL jersey as well, right? Look it up. That’s his actual legal name, and why Shawn Thornton was calling him “Patrick Cleary” when the Bruins took their trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland back in preseason 2010 before their Stanley Cup win.

That’s all for the bag this week. We’ll see you next week!  

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