By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — You just can’t ever take for granted a potential run to a Stanley Cup. That appears to be the mind-set of Bruins GM Don Sweeney, after he went out and paid a decent price to acquire the services of Rick Nash for the final 23 games of the regular season, plus what the Bruins hope will be a deep playoff run.
Of course, acquiring the services of an unrestricted-free-agent-to-be always presents a scenario where a team “overpays.” That is a necessity of such a deal. Yet while the Bruins did send away a first-round pick, the price at first glance appears to be more than fair from Boston’s perspective.
Here’s what Boston gave up to get Nash:
–Prospect Ryan Lindgren
–A 2018 first-round pick
–A 2019 seventh-round pick
That pick will land somewhere in the second half of the first round. If the Bruins reach the conference finals, it’ll be a very late pick.
Beleskey has tallied eight points in his last 63 NHL games — 66 games, if you count the playoffs. He’s been an AHL player this year. He’s signed through the 2018-19 season, and the Bruins will be paying half of his remaining contract. That’s a net gain.
Lindgren is a prospect, but he’s not considered a top prospect in the league. He’s 20 years old and is playing for the University of Minnesota. He could pan out as a reliable NHL D-man some day, but many more prospects in that position never make it.
The 2019 seventh-rounder? There have been some gems found in the seventh round. They represent the exception.
And while the removal of Spooner from the B’s mix at a time when the team is clicking is definitely a consideration, it’s simply difficult to argue that the addition of a superior player does anything except make the team better.
No, with 18 goals and 10 assists, Nash is not having a career year. In fact, Spooner’s nine goals and 16 assists in 21 fewer games played might suggest such an acquisition could be a misstep.
But Rick Nash is a big-time player. He’s hit the 30-goal mark in a season eight times, and he’s topped the 40-goal plateau three times. That’s not just ancient history, either; he tallied a career-high 42 goals three seasons ago.
At 6-foot-4, 211 pounds, he provides the type of size that the Bruins have been lacking on the wing, outside of David Backes. And he gives Bruce Cassidy options.
Plus, in looking at recent deadline deals around the league, the prices paid in deadline deals have generally been higher.
The Capitals paid a first-round pick and a conditional second-rounder (plus two players) last year to get Kevin Shattenkirk. Martin Hanzal netted Arizona a first and a second. A year prior, the Jets coughed up a first-rounder and a conditional third to get Andrew Ladd (plus two players). Before that, the Lightning paid a first-round pick, a conditional third-round pick, and a player in order to acquire Braydon Coburn. Thomas Vanek netted the Sabres a first-round pick, a second-round pick, and Matt Moulson in return.
You get the idea. Over the past five or so years, the prices for deadline-day rentals has only gone up, to the point where the league has seen a slight dip in blockbuster type trades taking place on deadline day.
So while the first-round pick sent to New York is indeed a hefty cost, it is a fair price to pay, given the market price on some of these deals over the years. The Bruins also aren’t short on prospects and young players, some of whom have already contributed at the NHL level (Charlie McAboy, Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork) and others who could be ready to contribute regularly within a year or two (Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Zach Senyshyn, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, etc.).
The deal is a risk, just like any deal is a risk. But in considering all the factors involved, it’s one absolutely worth taking. Sweney and the Bruins know that life in the NHL can change in an instant, and they they may not be so fortunate as to find themselves sitting near the top of the league standings in late February in the coming years. Adding a player of Nash’s caliber was going to come at a cost, but it’d be difficult to say the Bruins overpaid in this deal.