Why the Hampus Lindholm trade bolsters Bruins' Stanley Cup chances originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Bruins needed to make a major move for a No. 2 center or top-four defenseman before Monday's NHL trade deadline to give themselves a strong chance at winning the Stanley Cup in what could be Patrice Bergeron's final season.
B's general manager Don Sweeney acquired one of those players Saturday in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks that sent star defenseman Hampus Lindholm and AHL defenseman Kodie Curran to Boston in exchange for a 2022 first-round pick, a 2023 second-round pick, a 2024 second-round pick, defenseman John Moore and defenseman Urho Vaakanainen.
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This is a very good trade for the Bruins and bolsters their odds of making a deep playoff run.
Lindholm is a first-pairing caliber defenseman who could play alongside Charlie McAvoy and create one of the best duos on any blue line. He also could slot in on the second pairing next to Brandon Carlo and form a shutdown duo.
The likely scenario is Matt Grzelcyk sticking with Carlo given their recent success together. Mike Reilly would go down to the third pairing and be replaced by Lindhom next to McAvoy.
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These projected pairings with Lindholm in the mix are quite impressive.
That's a blue line of a legit Stanley Cup contender.
The lack of depth and talent on the blue line proved fatal for the Bruins in their last couple playoff runs, especially in the second-round series loss to the New York Islanders a year ago. They couldn't overcome Carlo and Kevan Miller exiting the lineup with injuries.
Lindholm -- 22 points in 61 games this season -- adds another dynamic two-way skill set to the lineup. The 28-year-old veteran is an excellent skater, he can create scoring chances for himself and teammates, he'll contribute to the power and penalty kill (2:01 shorthanded ice time per game), and he has plenty of playoff experience (55 career games). Lindholm's puck-moving ability is exactly what the Bruins need -- someone who can retrieve pucks in the defensive zone and make a good first pass to ignite the transition up ice.
Even though Lindholm doesn't play an overly physical game, his 6-foot-3 and 210-pound frame helps him win puck battles at a high rate. He's also great with his stick in denying entry into the defensive zone.
The analytics community is not as high on Lindholm as they used to be, but some of his recent dip can be attributed to playing on a weak team and having a 19-year-old defense partner in Jamie Drysdale.
The Swedish defenseman eats up a ton of minutes playing against the opponents' top-six forwards. Lindholm consistently averages around 22 minutes per game in the regular season. He could log as much as 25-plus in the postseason. Lindholm is the type of defenseman you have on the ice (alongside McAvoy) late in the game with the Bruins leading by a goal or trailing by a goal.
The Bruins weren't going to win the Stanley Cup with their pre-Lindholm blue line. There wasn't enough depth or two-way talent to compete with contenders such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes. That's no longer the case after adding a premium top-four defenseman in Lindholm.
Another benefit is the Bruins pulled off this trade without giving up either of their top two prospects -- right winger Fabian Lysell and defenseman Mason Lohrei -- and the Ducks retained 50 percent of Lindholm's salary, which gives Boston the salary cap flexibility to add a forward before Monday's trade deadline.
There's a lot to like about this trade for the Bruins. It would get even better if Lindholm signs a long-term extension with the B's, which reportedly is being negotiated right now.