The Boston Bruins are the best team in the NHL. They’re rolling, they got some of their key players back way earlier than many expected from summer surgeries, and they look like a team on a mission to win a ring.
The Bruins are also an Eastern Conference team that plays the Chicago Blackhawks only twice during the regular season … but they’ve been watching the Blackhawks. A lot. In fact, they’ve had scouts at more Blackhawks’ home games this season than any other team in the league.
It’s normal for at team to take in a game or two in a row if they face common opponents or see each other relatively soon. Or, sometimes, if it’s convenient because the right team(s) are in one city in a row to scout in advance. Save on plane cost to stay in one place for a week and watch three or four games? Sure.
But the Bruins have been watching the Blackhawks from the start of this season an eyebrow-raising amount. And, when you consider what they’re doing this season and what they did over the summer, it would make sense for them to take a big swing to win it all this year.
Patrice Bergeron was 50-50 on retirement or coming back this season. Not only did the Bruins convince him to come back, but they coaxed David Krejci to come back after a year in Europe. And they got both studs to come back for $3.5 million total.
If this is the last ride for Bergeron and Krejci in Boston, the Bruins should want to put a fitting cap on their respective careers. But there’s another reason to go for it this year.
The Bruins have only five forwards on their NHL roster signed beyond this season. One of the names not signed past this year is David Pastrnak, who’s an unrestricted free agent this coming summer. And Pasta’s gonna get paid.
So if this is indeed the “end of an era” approach to a season for the Bruins, their incredible start will only fuel the front office’s desire to add enough at the deadline to go for it.
It’s obvious the two big-ticket, game-changing players on the Blackhawks (Kane and Toews) could be on their radar. And moving to another Original Six team/city with a legit championship shot might be enticing for one of those stars to consider a move if/when they make the decision to have that conversation.
Thanksgiving in the United States has traditionally been viewed as a benchmark on the calendar for teams to have a pretty good idea of their playoff capability. It’s also when teams really start to consider their short and long-term futures and trade chatter start to warm up. As I wrote earlier this week, the Blackhawks have a collection of defensemen that might open the door for a trade before the Christmas roster freeze; Chicago has more bodies than roster spots at the NHL and AHL levels.
So while the game is playing out on the ice today, let’s also keep in mind there might be a game being played between these two front offices. And the Blackhawks might indeed be able to help the Bruins do something special this year.