By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
Now that the NHL trade deadline has passed the second part of the silly season begins. Now the talking heads from Thunder Bay to Tampa Bay will begin to give their “report cards” of the winners and loser when it comes to deals that were done – and more times than not, weren’t done – as the rush to the playoffs begins in earnest over the next six weeks.
For Bruins fans, the names Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie – younger brother of Brett that was sent packing by the B’s just over a month ago – likely won’t inspire Sully from Southie or Chuckie from Charlestown to prematurely drop a few hundred bucks for a 2020 Stanley Cup Champs tattoo, the fact remains no one knows what the next couple months will bring once the real games start in April.
Other than the fact that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is willing to take a stab at another Ritchie – this has the classic vibe of dumping the older sister for the younger one in high school because she was rumored to be “more talented” in certain aspects of her game – there is really only one move that the reigning GM of the year might regret should his club struggle to get out of the Eastern Conference this spring.
And that would be letting former San Jose Sharks defenseman Branden Dillon go to the already stout Washington Capitals for a 2nd and 3rd round conditional pick.
For as much as he has struggled to stay healthy – and is likely a long-shot to ever see an NHL roster again due to his struggle with knee issues – the Bruins desperately missed the physical presence that Kevan Miller has provided to head coach Bruce Cassidy’s blueline in the past.
That was never more evident than when the St. Louis Blues did to the Black and Gold last June, which was a carbon copy of what the 2011 Cup Champions did to a then heavily favored – and more talented – Vancouver Canucks club eight years before.
In short, they beat the piss out of them.
While it may turn out that the younger Ritchie proves to be a significant upgrade from his disappointing senior sibling and Kase might just turn into the second line sniper that could make the Bruins offense one of the most potent in the East come the playoffs, it’s more likely than not that teams will still take liberties with the smaller and skilled forwards when the whistles get quieter and the hits get harder.
The bottom line is anyone who tells you who the “winners and losers” are just hours after the 3 pm deadline on Monday have the same chance of being correct in their forecasts as Miss Cleo did telling fortunes back in the day.
For as much as it is a crapshoot – no pun intended – when it comes to the over-analyzing that will take place in NHL hotbeds across the league, one stubborn fact remains.
Size still matters in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. You need to look back no further than eight months ago to confirm that.
It’s easy to argue that Sweeney has built a very talented roster. The question that will be answered sometime between now and the final week of June is did he supply it with the necessary size and fortitude it will take to achieve the goal they came 60 minutes away from last season?
I guess that’s why they play the games, right?
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