The Search for a number 1 center

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
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Patrice Bergeron’s retirement has obviously left a giant hole in the roster at the center position. Top line center is arguably the most valuable position in hockey. Teams typically have to go to the bottom of the league for multiple seasons in order to acquire one of these players through the draft, then have to wait several years for that player to develop into an impact player in the playoffs.

The Bruins are not in a position to go to the bottom of the league. They have an elite goal scorer, a good defensive core anchored by a borderline all star, and two elite goaltenders. IMHO, management should be trying whatever they can do to try to acquire this kind of player.

What are some ideas?

Here is my idea:

You have two great goalies. You have to trade a goalie since Swayman needs a contract. The conventional wisdom is trade Ullmark. However, he has a no trade clause, which will limit his value considerably. So why not entertain trading Swayman in a package for a number one center. Obviously it would take way more than Swayman.

And who would be my target? There’s Draisaitl in Edmonton with a year left on his deal. If the Bruins could get him to sign a contract extension, I would offer Edmonton:

Poitras
Lysell
Swayman
2025 1st

I obviously hate giving up Swayman, and that’s a lot of prospect capital, but any trade for that kind of talent is going to hurt.

I would love to hear what RMPS has for ideas on how to fill the No. 1 center problem.
 

TSC

SoSH's Doug Neidermeyer
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I just posted this in the off season game thread - but rumors are that Martin Nečas wants traded out of Carolina wants to a team he can be a #1 center/PP option.

53 points this season, 71 points last season. Only 25 years old and an RFA.

Only issue is he also wears 88, so him and Pasta would need to figure something out.
 

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
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I just posted this in the offense a game thread - but rumors are that Martin Nečas from Carolina wants to be traded to a team he can be a #1 center.

53 points this season, 71 points last season. Only 25 years old and an RFA.

Only issue is he also wears 88, so him and Pasta would need to figure something out.
I would love Necas on this team. What do you think it would take? I don’t see Carolina as a team that wouldn’t deal with an Eastern Conference team for the right deal.
 

TSC

SoSH's Doug Neidermeyer
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I would love Necas on this team. What do you think it would take? I don’t see Carolina as a team that wouldn’t deal with an Eastern Conference team for the right deal.
I mean, their goalies kind of suck. Freddy Andersen has one year left on his deal. And I don’t think Kochetkov is the answer.

Do they think a goalie like Ullmark potentially puts them over the top? If the Bruins took Andersen and his 3.75 million to backup Swayman and sent them to Ullmark is that enough for Nečas RFA rights?
 

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
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I mean, their goalies kind of suck. Freddy Andersen has one year left on his deal. And I don’t think Kochetkov is the answer.

Do they think a goalie like Ullmark potentially puts them over the top? If the Bruins took Andersen and his 3.75 million to backup Swayman and sent them to Ullmark is that enough for Nečas RFA rights?
It would definitely be worth a phone call from Sweeney.
 

jmanny24

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Feb 6, 2003
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Patrice Bergeron’s retirement has obviously left a giant hole in the roster at the center position. Top line center is arguably the most valuable position in hockey. Teams typically have to go to the bottom of the league for multiple seasons in order to acquire one of these players through the draft, then have to wait several years for that player to develop into an impact player in the playoffs.

The Bruins are not in a position to go to the bottom of the league. They have an elite goal scorer, a good defensive core anchored by a borderline all star, and two elite goaltenders. IMHO, management should be trying whatever they can do to try to acquire this kind of player.

What are some ideas?

Here is my idea:

You have two great goalies. You have to trade a goalie since Swayman needs a contract. The conventional wisdom is trade Ullmark. However, he has a no trade clause, which will limit his value considerably. So why not entertain trading Swayman in a package for a number one center. Obviously it would take way more than Swayman.

And who would be my target? There’s Draisaitl in Edmonton with a year left on his deal. If the Bruins could get him to sign a contract extension, I would offer Edmonton:

Poitras
Lysell
Swayman
2025 1st

I obviously hate giving up Swayman, and that’s a lot of prospect capital, but any trade for that kind of talent is going to hurt.

I would love to hear what RMPS has for ideas on how to fill the No. 1 center problem.
Skinner is there, is the same age as Sway and is under contract for 2 more yrs at a lower number than Sway's current number and Edm doesn't have a ton of space to fill out their bottom 6, pay Sway and try and replace Drai's production
 

Ferm Sheller

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What do people think of Elias Lindholm? Think he'll be too expensive? He'll probably get at least $8M/season.
 

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
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Skinner is there, is the same age as Sway and is under contract for 2 more yrs at a lower number than Sway's current number and Edm doesn't have a ton of space to fill out their bottom 6, pay Sway and try and replace Drai's production
Skinner also is not that good.
 

IdiotKicker

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I like the idea of Lindholm but he hasn’t been great since going to Vancouver, though I haven’t watched many of their games since they’re usually past my bedtime. But in theory, he should be an ideal target because all he costs is cash and we are light on prospects and picks.
 

burstnbloom

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This is the largest issue with the roster and I don't think its particularly likely to be solved this offseason. Number 1 centers overwhelmingly come from high draft picks and they don't often move via trade or make it to UFA. If the Oilers decided they wouldn't be able to carry 2 $15m centers long term and put Draisatl on the block, we wouldn't likely have the capital to acquire him.

Necas is available but I really don't think he's all that great of a player and the same problem arises in that many of the teams who would be after him have a lot more to offer than the Bruins.

I think the best bet for this offseason is to punt on the center position for now and beef up the wings. The roster is certainly 2 top 6 players short of where they need to be and have the cap to solve for that. I'd start there.
 

tims4wins

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Is Necas any better than say Zacha? I get that Coyle had a career year. The B's actually have great depth at C IMO with Zacha, Coyle, and Poitras. Does Necas really move the needle, or is he similar to the guys they already have? For this reason I think I agree with @burstnbloom. Upgrading the Debrusk and Heinen slots (possibly by adding a top line wing and moving Debrusk down to the 2nd line) might have more bang for the buck.
 

Jeff Frye's Face Mask

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Is Necas any better than say Zacha? I get that Coyle had a career year. The B's actually have great depth at C IMO with Zacha, Coyle, and Poitras. Does Necas really move the needle, or is he similar to the guys they already have? For this reason I think I agree with @burstnbloom. Upgrading the Debrusk and Heinen slots (possibly by adding a top line wing and moving Debrusk down to the 2nd line) might have more bang for the buck.
What’s the move there, then? Somebody like Guentzel?
 

tims4wins

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What’s the move there, then? Somebody like Guentzel?
I'm far too ignorant on the overall NHL to offer an opinion. I was basically box score scouting Necas and questioning whether he improves the position. The B's C depth this year has felt a little like the Pats WR depth (or maybe the Red Sox SP depth). A bunch of #2-#3 guys but nothing resembling a #1.
 

burstnbloom

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I don't think he is. If we could guarantee we are getting the 22/23 version of him, maybe, but he's been a mediocre player the rest of his career. Also, a team in desperate need of a second line center declined to play him there so much that he wants to leave town. I'm not sure he's a dude.

It's extremely unlikely but I'd throw a huge bag at Sam Reinhart. He's not the 100 point guy he was this year but he's been a ppg player since moving to Florida, he's elite defensively and is the best RH bumper player on the power play in the league. He has the size and skill set to play the middle but moved to RW toward the end of his tenure in Buffalo and in Florida. I think he could be a legitimately elite pivot playing next to Pasta.

7 years, $10.8 is what evolving hockey has as his projected contract and I think he's worth it. You could afford that and Jake at $6m under the cap if you move Ullmark for futures. It's not enough, imo, but its the most impactful UFA move you could make in the top 6.

Zacha-Reinhart-Pasta
Marchand-Coyle-Jake
Fred-Poitras-Geekie
Lauko-Beecher-Braz
 

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
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I don't think he is. If we could guarantee we are getting the 22/23 version of him, maybe, but he's been a mediocre player the rest of his career. Also, a team in desperate need of a second line center declined to play him there so much that he wants to leave town. I'm not sure he's a dude.

It's extremely unlikely but I'd throw a huge bag at Sam Reinhart. He's not the 100 point guy he was this year but he's been a ppg player since moving to Florida, he's elite defensively and is the best RH bumper player on the power play in the league. He has the size and skill set to play the middle but moved to RW toward the end of his tenure in Buffalo and in Florida. I think he could be a legitimately elite pivot playing next to Pasta.

7 years, $10.8 is what evolving hockey has as his projected contract and I think he's worth it. You could afford that and Jake at $6m under the cap if you move Ullmark for futures. It's not enough, imo, but its the most impactful UFA move you could make in the top 6.

Zacha-Reinhart-Pasta
Marchand-Coyle-Jake
Fred-Poitras-Geekie
Lauko-Beecher-Braz
I would love Reinhart on this team. It also has the side benefit of weakening Florida.
 

jcaz

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What happens with DeBrusk? Is he back? At what number? Had his best season last year with 50 points in 64 games. Regressed a bit this year. Had a good playoff run with11 points in 13 games.

what do 45 points per year wingers get paid? $4.5M AAV?
 

burstnbloom

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What happens with DeBrusk? Is he back? At what number? Had his best season last year with 50 points in 64 games. Regressed a bit this year. Had a good playoff run with11 points in 13 games.

what do 45 points per year wingers get paid? $4.5M AAV?
Evolving Hockey has him at 5 x $5.8 which I would absolutely sign. He gets dogged on so much in this market but hes a legit second line wing who can play both sides, play defense, and shows up in the playoffs.
 

Salem's Lot

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Evolving Hockey has him at 5 x $5.8 which I would absolutely sign. He gets dogged on so much in this market but hes a legit second line wing who can play both sides, play defense, and shows up in the playoffs.
I think that the main reason he gets dogged is because people didn’t like how they handled that draft. If we hadn’t of drafted him, he’d be one of the guys that some people around here would want to sign in UFA.
 

burstnbloom

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I agree completely. Also he asked for a trade.

Honestly, I don't care what the chatter about the player is in this market because I think the bruins have a horrible fanbase lol. I want him here and anything under Hagel's deal is pretty reasonable imo
 

Murby

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1. That’s a hard no on considering trading Sway.

2. DeBrusk. I’ve never been a fan. However, given he has generally been good in the playoffs & might be around $6m per, you have to sign him. He’s a 3 zone player who can be streaky, but I’d rather have him than anyone else you can likely get.

3. My biggest question is Frederic. Did they see enough to keep him? I wouldn’t.

4. As far as centers go, I don’t want anything to do with PLD nor Duchene. Lindholm? Eh. ok.
 

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
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I don't care what the chatter about the player is in this market because I think the bruins have a horrible fanbase lol.
I know you’re joking, but a lot of truth is said in jest.

Seriously I think part of the reason why the Bruins home record sucks is because the fans are so quick to jump ugly on them. The players should seriously just treat it like a road crowd.
 

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
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1. That’s a hard no on considering trading Sway.

2. DeBrusk. I’ve never been a fan. However, given he has generally been good in the playoffs & might be around $6m per, you have to sign him. He’s a 3 zone player who can be streaky, but I’d rather have him than anyone else you can likely get.

3. My biggest question is Frederic. Did they see enough to keep him? I wouldn’t.

4. As far as centers go, I don’t want anything to do with PLD nor Duchene. Lindholm? Eh. ok.
So how would you propose getting better as a team?
 

Haunted

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I would like to have DeBrusk back, even in that $5-6 mil range. But the term is what would concern me. Hes so inconsistent and can disappear for weeks at a time. Even excepting this season with the broken hand. But he sure does seem to show up in the playoffs, for whatever that’s worth.

I feel like someone is going to throw idiot money at him and I just hope it isn’t Boston.
 

RIFan

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I don't think he is. If we could guarantee we are getting the 22/23 version of him, maybe, but he's been a mediocre player the rest of his career. Also, a team in desperate need of a second line center declined to play him there so much that he wants to leave town. I'm not sure he's a dude.

It's extremely unlikely but I'd throw a huge bag at Sam Reinhart. He's not the 100 point guy he was this year but he's been a ppg player since moving to Florida, he's elite defensively and is the best RH bumper player on the power play in the league. He has the size and skill set to play the middle but moved to RW toward the end of his tenure in Buffalo and in Florida. I think he could be a legitimately elite pivot playing next to Pasta.

7 years, $10.8 is what evolving hockey has as his projected contract and I think he's worth it. You could afford that and Jake at $6m under the cap if you move Ullmark for futures. It's not enough, imo, but its the most impactful UFA move you could make in the top 6.

Zacha-Reinhart-Pasta
Marchand-Coyle-Jake
Fred-Poitras-Geekie
Lauko-Beecher-Braz
Beat me to it. Reinhardt makes sense on a lot of levels. I also want Jake back. He’s was arguably the best forward in the playoffs and I think the relief of having a long term deal will free him up to just go out and play. They obviously need a #1 center, but Zacha and Coyle have proved serviceable. You hope that Poitras can make a leap at 3C and be ready for more responsibility by March. I wouldn’t trade Swayman. Ullmark as a centerpiece probably won’t get a one or two C, but maybe a lottery ticket / expiring draft picks. I’m not sold enough on Bussi to trade him just to move him. I’d hang on to him if they don’t get value.
 

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
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Ullmark is probably the one that gets traded. I wonder if that rumored deal to LA would be back on the table in the off-season. Tough to pull kids out of school mid year.
 

NJ_Sox_Fan

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Can’t imagine them moving Sway. Move Ullmark. I’d love Draisaitl, but no clue what it would take to get him.
 

veritas

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I really don't think DeBrusk's reputation for being inconsistent is fair, especially over the past couple years. Most of his value is in his goal scoring and two way play, and he isn't on the first power play unit. He's improved over his career but he's not a great playmaker. Give that, he's not going to show up on the scoresheet every night. Most "streaky" goal scorers aren't streaky per se, there's just a lot of luck involved in scoring goals. He had one non-injury related points drought this season and his underlying numbers during that time were still very good. I'm curious what his market value is, but I'd be happy to have him back at under 6 mil.

I agree that this team needs a 1C. Pushing Zacha to 2C and Coyle to 3C puts them both in a position to be strengths in the lineup instead of adequate. Plus Poitras/Beecher/Frederic who can play wing/4C while provide depth.

Necas is not that guy. He's not good defensively and not an impact player on the power play. That's not a combination you want for a player who is going to get big bucks. I don't really have any better ideas though.

Zero chance of it happening, but Crosby ending his career with Marchand here would be really fun. Objectively I think it would make a lot of sense for both teams, I also understand why it's not going to happen.
 

TSC

SoSH's Doug Neidermeyer
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Necas is not that guy. He's not good defensively and not an impact player on the power play. That's not a combination you want for a player who is going to get big bucks. I don't really have any better ideas though.
I mean, he only got 160 minutes on the PP this season (for comparison, Pasta had over 300).

Last season when he got 250 minutes on the PP he was at 9g and 17a. Considering he’s a pass first player, teaming him up with Pasta would look pretty good.
 

bosox33

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Oct 11, 2008
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I'd rather sign someone in free agency if possible, as opposed to trading away more assets other than the obvious of needing to trade Ullmark in order to protect Bussi. The main focus for centers would appear to be Elias Lindholm, but the question becomes will he even make it to market? Reinhart would obviously be a fantastic pickup, but I can't imagine Florida not finding a way to keep him around and it seems like he wants to stay there. Also he doesn't play Center in Florida so I'm not certain how much help he'd be as far as improving at the dot. Lindholm on the other hand is very solid at the dot and somewhat known for his defense.

Regarding Debrusk I'm not against resigning him, but it's all about what the price and term would be. If we could do 4 x $4 I would think it'd already be done, so you have to think he or his agent has set a price that as/of now is above where we want to be. Would you rather have JD at say 5 by $6.5 or could we land Perron for say 1 x $5 or Bertuzzi for something like 4 by $5? Even if we were to land Lindholm I think there's value in having some space the following off season to take another swing.
 

IdiotKicker

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I don't think he is. If we could guarantee we are getting the 22/23 version of him, maybe, but he's been a mediocre player the rest of his career. Also, a team in desperate need of a second line center declined to play him there so much that he wants to leave town. I'm not sure he's a dude.

It's extremely unlikely but I'd throw a huge bag at Sam Reinhart. He's not the 100 point guy he was this year but he's been a ppg player since moving to Florida, he's elite defensively and is the best RH bumper player on the power play in the league. He has the size and skill set to play the middle but moved to RW toward the end of his tenure in Buffalo and in Florida. I think he could be a legitimately elite pivot playing next to Pasta.

7 years, $10.8 is what evolving hockey has as his projected contract and I think he's worth it. You could afford that and Jake at $6m under the cap if you move Ullmark for futures. It's not enough, imo, but its the most impactful UFA move you could make in the top 6.

Zacha-Reinhart-Pasta
Marchand-Coyle-Jake
Fred-Poitras-Geekie
Lauko-Beecher-Braz
I think I land here as well, but depending on DeBrusk cost (3x5ish is where I tap out), maybe Ullmark’s return is a DeBrusk replacement or the picks to find him.

The only other thing I may do differently is slide Geekie down to Braz’s spot and drop Merkulov/Lysell in there to see if one of them can float to get some more scoring and creativity deeper into the lineup. And then that 4th line is big and can fly.
 

Marbleheader

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If Sweeney trades next year's first round pick, I might riot. No picks in the first 3 rounds this year, no 2nd or 4th next year, traded 5 of their last 7 1sts. They need to add some talent via the draft.
 

burstnbloom

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I know you’re joking, but a lot of truth is said in jest.

Seriously I think part of the reason why the Bruins home record sucks is because the fans are so quick to jump ugly on them. The players should seriously just treat it like a road crowd.
I am joking but I also feel that way. I think the majority of the Bruins fan base is awful.

Regarding the Debrusk debate, my challenge with the conversation around him is that it's always about his points. Points are a poor evaluator of performance, imo, because they are extremely context dependent. Jake had a consistent role last year but this year was pretty similar to the cassidy years in that he moved around A LOT and got inconsistent power play time. His underlying numbers are consistently good. They generate a lot of offense when he's on the ice and they give up very little. Still, even though he was constantly being moved around, he ended up at 40 points again, while playing the second half with a broken hand and he was the best forward in the playoffs.

TL:DR he's a safe bet to win his matchups, which you can't say about many of the forwards on this team. EH has his contract at 5 X $5.8 and that feels like a good deal. It would expire before he turns 33.
 

burstnbloom

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I'd rather sign someone in free agency if possible, as opposed to trading away more assets other than the obvious of needing to trade Ullmark in order to protect Bussi. The main focus for centers would appear to be Elias Lindholm, but the question becomes will he even make it to market? Reinhart would obviously be a fantastic pickup, but I can't imagine Florida not finding a way to keep him around and it seems like he wants to stay there. Also he doesn't play Center in Florida so I'm not certain how much help he'd be as far as improving at the dot. Lindholm on the other hand is very solid at the dot and somewhat known for his defense.

Regarding Debrusk I'm not against resigning him, but it's all about what the price and term would be. If we could do 4 x $4 I would think it'd already be done, so you have to think he or his agent has set a price that as/of now is above where we want to be. Would you rather have JD at say 5 by $6.5 or could we land Perron for say 1 x $5 or Bertuzzi for something like 4 by $5? Even if we were to land Lindholm I think there's value in having some space the following off season to take another swing.
I obviously agree that Reinhart probably doesn't come here, but I'm not super concerned about his faceoff percentage. Lindholm is "known" for his defense but has been a poor defender the last couple of years. Conversely, Reinhart has top of the league level defensive results. Ultimately there isn't a huge correlation between big picture puck possession and faceoff wins unless its an extreme outlier (ie Bergeron winning 70% of his ozone faceoffs on the power play). A guy like Reinhart who wins his matchups at an elite level but wins 47 % of his faceoffs vs Lindholm who doesn't win them at all but wins faceoffs at 56%, the former is likely to be a significantly more impactful performer.

I'm extremely wary of Elias Lindholm. He will likely get 7 years at $7.5 + and he's not good defensively, is average offensively and is living on the reputation of a 40 goal season when his wings were Matt Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau.
 

Scoops Bolling

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Ullmark is probably the one that gets traded. I wonder if that rumored deal to LA would be back on the table in the off-season. Tough to pull kids out of school mid year.
I seriously hope not. I want nothing to do with PLD and do not believe he is a real #1 center to start with.
 

bosox33

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Oct 11, 2008
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I obviously agree that Reinhart probably doesn't come here, but I'm not super concerned about his faceoff percentage. Lindholm is "known" for his defense but has been a poor defender the last couple of years. Conversely, Reinhart has top of the league level defensive results. Ultimately there isn't a huge correlation between big picture puck possession and faceoff wins unless its an extreme outlier (ie Bergeron winning 70% of his ozone faceoffs on the power play). A guy like Reinhart who wins his matchups at an elite level but wins 47 % of his faceoffs vs Lindholm who doesn't win them at all but wins faceoffs at 56%, the former is likely to be a significantly more impactful performer.

I'm extremely wary of Elias Lindholm. He will likely get 7 years at $7.5 + and he's not good defensively, is average offensively and is living on the reputation of a 40 goal season when his wings were Matt Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau.
I don't disagree that there would be concern, but I think Lindholm is the best option available that the B's have a realistic chance of landing. I'd gamble on the B's system playing to his strengths and putting him between Pasta and Pav as 1c would be a massive upgrade compared to the linemates he's had post Chucky/Johnny. Pav's also solid defensively and Pasta is better in that regard than many in Boston give him credit for. I also think the B's locker room provides the support that a guy like Lindholm needs to be at his best.
 

The Napkin

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I am joking but I also feel that way. I think the majority of the Bruins fan base is awful.

Regarding the Debrusk debate, my challenge with the conversation around him is that it's always about his points. Points are a poor evaluator of performance, imo, because they are extremely context dependent. Jake had a consistent role last year but this year was pretty similar to the cassidy years in that he moved around A LOT and got inconsistent power play time. His underlying numbers are consistently good. They generate a lot of offense when he's on the ice and they give up very little. Still, even though he was constantly being moved around, he ended up at 40 points again, while playing the second half with a broken hand and he was the best forward in the playoffs.

TL:DR he's a safe bet to win his matchups, which you can't say about many of the forwards on this team. EH has his contract at 5 X $5.8 and that feels like a good deal. It would expire before he turns 33.
View: https://twitter.com/_TyAnderson/status/1791984766130008353
 

cshea

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I mean, he only got 160 minutes on the PP this season (for comparison, Pasta had over 300).

Last season when he got 250 minutes on the PP he was at 9g and 17a. Considering he’s a pass first player, teaming him up with Pasta would look pretty good.
It's not as simple as just giving the player more power play time to boost his points back up. There's a reason Carolina decereased his ice time. He's bad defensively and his 5x5 results were not good. The Bruins are working with limited trade assets and would have to trade something to get him then give him a contract. That's too steep for me. I'm not a big Elias Lindholm fan but he would just cost money.
 

cshea

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The rumor was Ullmark for Pierre-Luc Dubois.
That's been out there but I don't think it was ever really sourced. just some dot connections. Kings need a goalie; Bruins need a center. It never would've worked cap wise, though there couldve been more to the deal.

Fluto had a piece in the Athletic about moving Ullmark. He states that Ullmark's resistence to a trade at the deadline wasn't necessarily about the destination but rather concerns over moving his family mid-season. He may be more flexible to working with the team in the summer as it benefits both parties.
 

NYCSox

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May 19, 2004
10,582
Some fancy town in CT
If Ullmark stays he may be on the short end of a 60/40 rotation in a walk year so I can see him being very open at this point to going somewhere like Carolina where he can step in as the lead guy.