When Bruins fans first heard that their team had acquired a New York Rangers defenseman, excitement spread across The Hub of Hockey. Finding out that defenseman was Nick Holden, however, resulted in a collective sigh of disappointment.
With the Rangers in sell mode ahead of next week’s trade deadline, followers of the Black and Gold were hoping for a bigger fish: Ryan McDonagh.
In exchange for Holden, the Bruins sent defenseman Rob O’Gara and a third round pick in this year’s entry draft to Broadway. Holden’s addition now gives the Bruins nine active defensemen — a move that left many ‘Spoked B’ supporters scratching their heads.
Thanks to injuries across their blueline last April, the Bruins were forced to use John-Michael Liles, Joe Morrow, Charlie McAvoy and Tommy Cross in their first round series with the Ottawa Senators. With that in mind, Sweeney was comfortable making the move for a guy with 356 regular season games and 18 playoff contests under his belt.
“We were on our 10th defenseman when we got into the playoffs last year,” Don Sweeney told the media prior to the Bruins’ 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday. “If we’re fortunate enough to be in there this year, then I think we needed to address that.”
With three already on their roster, the Bruins had been searching for a left-shot defenseman. The 6-foot-4 Holden is a solid blueliner, and an immediate upgrade to what has been a surprisingly solid D-core thus far.
With Holden expected to make his Bruins debut this weekend in either Toronto or Buffalo, two questions have now become more obvious: Where does the veteran fit in on the defensive depth chart? And is there another move in the works?
The most sensible conclusion would be that Holden will take the spot of 24-year-old Matt Grzelcyk. However, the former Boston University standout has played well since his last callup from Providence. The 24-year-old Charlestown native, who notched the game-tying goal against the Oilers Tuesday night, has 11 points in 40 games.
Barring any move with Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller or Paul Postma, Grzelcyk would likely be sent back to Providence as the odd-man out. Sweeney, however, had plenty of praise for Grzelcyk after meeting with the media on Tuesday.
“Very happy with the players and the way they’ve played, particularly Matt Grzelcyk in how he’s come up and integrated into our group,” Sweeney said.
Grzelcyk is averaging almost 16 minutes of ice time per game this season; a return to Providence would likely increase that number.
Holden’s addition gives Sweeney an option to move a defenseman and upgrade their group of forwards. As well as Boston’s offense has played so far this season, adding to its forward depth for a playoff run is never a bad idea.
We saw last season — and into the offseason — the interest teams like the Colorado Avalanche showed in Brandon Carlo. The 2015 second-round pick could be the valuable chip the Bruins need to bring an additional forward into the mix. Matt Duchene, Thomas Vanek, Evander Kane, Patrick Maroon and Thomas Vanek are all players who have been rumored to be available.
However the pie is sliced, the Holden trade remains a head scratcher — at least for now.
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