When a trade happens, there’s an initial layer of excitement that comes with players switching teams and creating new opportunities.
Once the details are finalized, a more pressing question must be asked: how will the new player fit in? Such a prompt was asked and answered Friday by Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy in reference to newly acquired forward Ondrej Kase.
Kase was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks for David Backes, Axel Andersson and a 2020 first round pick.
“The easiest thing to say is we’ll try him with (centre David) Krejci, we probably will,” Cassidy said. “Go from there.”
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 21, 2020
That would mean Kase, a right-shot winger who has four goals and nine points in his past 13 games, will skate on Boston’s second line, presumably alongside left-shot Jake DeBrusk (and, of course, Krejci).
But that won’t happen until at least Tuesday against the Calgary Flames, Cassidy said, as Kase remains sidelined with an illness that has forced him to miss five games already.
In his assessment of Kase, Cassidy admitted he hasn’t seen much of the 24-year-old due to the fact he’s coming from the Ducks, who play in the Western Conference.
“Where he fits into the lineup, and who he complements? Until we see him, I just don’t want to go down that road and paint him into a certain spot and it doesn’t work out,” Cassidy said. “He’s an NHL player, he’s proven that.”
Still, Cassidy mentioned twice that Kase will get a look with Krejci, whose current line — which includes DeBrusk and Danton Heinen — has plenty of room for improvement. At 5-on-5 this season, the DeBrusk-Krejci-Heinen line has a 39.86 Corsi for percentage, 50 goals for percentage and 41.29 expected goals for percentage, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Heinen has struggled the most, with seven goals and 22 points in 56 games. That includes just one goal and seven points in his past 21 games.
“Obviously this deal creates competition,” Cassidy said of the trade. “Because you’ve got a guy going into your lineup and someone has to come out. I think players realize that.”
Boston entered Friday with a three-point cushion on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division (and Presidents’ Trophy race) with 21 games to go. However Kase ultimately fits with the Bruins, the expectation is that he’ll bring a scoring touch and help the team finish the season strong.
Cassidy acknowledged that the days leading up to the trade deadline — which is Monday at 3 p.m. ET — can be stressful for some players. Ultimately, there is only so much within their control.
“I’m not in (the locker room) trying to get in guys’ heads,” he said. “Listen, play well when your number’s up and the rest will take care of itself.”