Bruins GM Don Sweeney gives early thoughts on trade deadline approach originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
BOSTON -- The Bruins have the best record in the NHL at 33-5-4 after defeating the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in an exciting back-and-forth game at TD Garden on Saturday night.
This Bruins roster is deep at every position and has no glaring weaknesses. The B's have scored the second-most goals (158) and allowed the fewest (91). They own the league's fourth-ranked power play (27.6 percent) and top-ranked penalty kill (85.6 percent).
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What should be the team's focus as the March 3 NHL trade deadline approaches?
Bruins make strong statement in exciting 4-3 win vs. Leafs
A major upgrade, someone like a Patrick Kane or Bo Horvat, would give the Bruins incredible firepower up front. But that type of massive addition is not really needed. Reinforcing the team's depth at key positions, such as another goal-scoring winger and maybe a top-four defenseman, would be ideal.
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Bruins general manager Don Sweeney spoke to reporters after Saturday's win to address the team's contract extension with forward Pavel Zacha. He also was asked about his initial thoughts on the trade deadline.
“You’ve got to hope you stay healthy, and I think we have a good hockey team. I think we’re deep, but we’re probably going to have to continue to add and supplement," Sweeney said. "We’ve been blending in some of the players that have played particularly well down in Providence and earned an opportunity, so we’re going to continue to evaluate that if the opportunity presents itself.
"There haven’t been a lot of trades up until this point. We’ll have to see going forward. It’ll take some creativity for clubs like our own that have some cap challenges, but chances are that most of the teams that are hopefully going to get an opportunity to play in the playoffs generally have cap challenges, and we’re no different. We’re going to try to do our best to put the best team we possibly can."
We talked a lot in October about this season potentially being the Bruins' "Last Dance" with this veteran core. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are 37 and 36 years old, respectively. Brad Marchand is 34 years old. There are nine Bruins players able to hit free agency in the summer.
Does Sweeney see the need to go all-in at the trade deadline to make the most of his team's opportunity for a deep playoff run?
"My job is to put the best team on the ice year to year, balance it," Sweeney said. "Live in the moment for what this group wants to try and accomplish, and good on them. Like I said, process-driven group, and we’ll address things as they come, and I’ll do the best job I possibly can for the organization."
The Bruins currently have $4 million in cap space, per CapFriendly. It's not nothing, but it also might not be enough to acquire an impact player without giving up a sizable salary or the other team retaining salary.
Sweeney has been pretty aggressive in bolstering his roster at the trade deadline since taking over as Bruins general manager in 2015. In fact, he has made at least one deal in the build up to all seven of those previous trade deadlines. He made multiple moves in some of those seasons.
The easy decision would be to do very little and not mess with a team that's on pace to have one of the best regular seasons in league history. But given the uncertain future of this roster, Sweeney needs to make at least one meaningful upgrade to ensure the Bruins have the required depth to win four rounds in the spring.