Bruins GM Don Sweeney explains 'unique' approach to 2021 NHL trade deadline

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Nick Goss
·3 min read
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Bruins GM Don Sweeney explains 'unique' approach to NHL trade deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The 2021 NHL trade deadline is going to be different for several reasons.

The most obvious one is related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It's going to take longer for traded players to be integrated into their new teams because they must follow the league's health and safety protocols, plus any other local guidelines.

The deadline also is later in the regular season compared to a normal 82-game campaign. April 12 is the trade deadline and the regular season is scheduled to conclude May 8, so any players who change teams will have less than a month to build chemistry with their new teammates. Usually there's about a month-and-a-half.

There's also a lot of teams still in the playoff race in each of the four divisions. Punting on the season and parting ways with good players at the trade deadline could be a tough sell in some markets, particularly those starved for postseason action.

Bruins must be very aggressive to fix scoring issues at NHL trade deadline

How are the Boston Bruins approaching the trade deadline? General manager Don Sweeney provided some insight during a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday.

"I think it’s unique. I think everybody is going to evaluate where their team is at for really the next two weeks," Sweeney explained. "You could be above the line, below the line pretty quickly. And injuries have certainly taken their toll, the compression of the schedule. I think there are a lot of variables in play. You referenced probably the three most important ones. But your team usually dictates what you should try and do, and ours will probably do as well, indicate from what direction we’d like.

"We certainly have areas we would like to explore to add, but it’s been a challenge. I think things will loosen up because there are teams that will identify themselves as not necessarily in the position they want to be. And some player movement will happen. But moving across the border is a difficult thing with quarantine. I think a healthier group is sometimes dictating how many player transactions will be there. Money is tight. You have 18 teams in LTI.

"So it’s really navigating the unknown right now. But plenty of talks and conversations going on. We’ll see where it goes in the next couple weeks."

Bean: Offense needs to come from inside and outside of the current Bruins room

The Bruins' top priority at the trade deadline needs to be adding scoring depth.

Sweeney admitted the team's lack of secondary scoring is a "major concern," and he's absolutely right. The Bruins rely way too much on their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Boston ranks 27th in 5-on-5 goals scored entering Wednesday.

Bolstering the blue line also should be a goal for the Bruins over the next few weeks. Another veteran defenseman with playoff experience would provide much-needed depth for a blue line that's pretty young.

This year's trade deadline will be difficult to navigate for the reasons explained above. That said, contending teams like the Bruins still must find ways to upgrade their teams before the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sweeney has a tough task ahead of him, but the Bruins do have the salary cap space and assets to make an impactful move or two.