One trade could solve the Bruins center dilemma

Hunter Bowman
August 27, 2023  (6:12 PM)

Hockey enthusiasts are well aware that the Boston Bruins are in for a major transformation on their 2023 opening night compared to a year ago. The team has seen significant changes, particularly with the retirements of franchise icons Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

But this was just the beginning; a lineup overhaul involved key players like Dmitry Orlov, Connor Clifton, Tyler Bertuzzi, Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno, and Garnet Hathaway, who will all find themselves wearing different jerseys come opening night.
The 2023-24 season presents a new chapter for Massachusetts. Bergeron's departure, especially, leaves a massive void due to his unique two-way play. With both Bergeron and Krejci exiting, the center depth chart raises some legitimate concerns.
Heading into the next season, the Bruins have four forwards vying to anchor their center positions: Charlie Coyle, Pavel Zacha, Morgan Geekie, and a choice between Patrick Brown or Jesper Boqvist.
While Zacha's stellar performance as a 2C last year is noteworthy, and Coyle is dependable as a 3C, neither possess the potential of a true 1C that's often necessary for a Stanley Cup contender.
The center ice spot was once a stronghold for the Bruins' management, but in 2023, things have shifted.
To maintain competitiveness and give linemates deserving of players like David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, a trade might be the team's only viable course—either at the end of the offseason or sometime next year.
Losing both top-six centers within a single offseason, especially during free agency, is a tough blow. However, before considering external trade options, it's worth examining the internal candidates already on the roster.
If a trade doesn't materialize, the Bruins will rely on Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha as their top two centers next season.Coyle might not emulate Bergeron's defensive prowess, but he brings valuable two-way skills and a sharp hockey IQ.
His ability to protect the puck along the boards and make impactful plays in high-pressure situations is a highlight. His more complete skill set might earn him a spot on the first line with Marchand and DeBrusk.
Zacha found success alongside David Pastrnak during the 2022-23 season. The Czech line, along with Krejci, showcased impressive chemistry, becoming one of the league's top second lines.
Zacha enjoyed a career-best season with 21 goals and 36 assists. There's potential for even more growth, particularly if he secures a spot on the top powerplay unit without Bergeron and Krejci.
While Coyle and Zacha as a one-two punch isn't perfect, it's more promising than it might seem, especially with elite wingers like Marchand and Pastrnak.
Yet, one player stands out as an excellent fit for the Bruins' style—Elias Lindholm. Elias Lindholm's talents are well-known, and the secret's out that he won't be renewing his contract with the Calgary Flames next summer.
While the Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele could be a great addition, considering the Bruins' limited trade assets, Lindholm emerges as a slightly more cost-effective option and a safer bet.
Lindholm, a stellar two-way center with an impending unrestricted free agency, might be a trade piece for the Flames before they lose him for nothing. Lindholm's attractiveness lies not just in his affordability but also in his age and defensive prowess. He's netted 20-plus goals in four of the last five seasons, including an impressive 42 in 2021-22.
The Bruins should work on securing Elias Lindholm through a trade and then signing him to a long-term deal, akin to the New York Islanders' strategy with Bo Horvat last season. Such a move could significantly bolster the Bruins' standing in the competitive Eastern Conference.
Source: Clutchpoints

NHL players in this story
Nick Foligno
Brad Marchand
Dmitry Orlov
Taylor Hall
Charlie Coyle
Connor Clifton
Mark Scheifele
Bo Horvat
Tyler Bertuzzi
Elias Lindholm
Morgan Geekie
Pavel Zacha
David Pastrnak
Garnet Hathaway
Patrick Brown
Jesper Boqvist
AUGUST 27   |   80 ANSWERS
One trade could solve the Bruins center dilemma

Should the Boston Bruins pursue Elias Lindholm to strengthen their center position in the upcoming season?

Yes6783.8 %
No1316.3 %
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