At the State of the Bruins, an exclusive event for season ticket holders Sunday, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney acknowledged publicly what has been clear for some time: Help is needed on offense.
"My feeling is that we would like to try and add without necessarily giving up what we know is a big part of our future," Sweeney said in comments provided to NHL.com by the Bruins. "We committed assets last year to take a swing where we felt we needed to address an area of need and we will try and do a similar thing this year. I can't guarantee that'll happen. This time of the year, prices are generally pretty high, but we're going to try. We're going to try because I think we still need it."
Last season, the Bruins made a deal before the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline for New York Rangers forward Rick Nash, trading forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey and defenseman Ryan Lindgren, in addition to a first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and a seventh-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
[RELATED: 2018-19 NHL Trade Tracker]
The move didn't quite pay off in the way the Bruins had hoped,. They lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Second Round.
But the Bruins, who continue to have Stanley Cup aspirations despite the difficult competition in the Atlantic Division, are clearly in need of an additional scoring threat to help balance their lines.
For now, the Bruins have made some recent changes to try to help, including moving David Pastrnak to the second line with David Krejci. Danton Heinen has moved onto the first line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Jake DeBrusk has also been moved around in an attempt to regain his offensive footing.
The outcome of those moves, Sweeney said, could help the Bruins determine where they stand in the two weeks remaining until the trade deadline.
Asked about Sweeney's comment and the need for an additional player, coach Bruce Cassidy said, "Listen, when you answer that question you've got to be careful because I don't want to be disrespectful to our group, but yes, there's times we do seem to fall a goal short, so we could use that extra punch.
"Third-line center, I do believe we've been looking at different options all year. So to have a consistent guy in there every night would probably make it easier on everybody."
Cassidy has used Sean Kuraly, Colby Cave, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Trent Frederic in that role this season. Cave was claimed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 15. Forsbacka Karlsson was sent to Providence of the American Hockey League on Jan. 28.
"At the end of the day that's going to be [management's] call," Cassidy said. "I'm not skirting the question, I just think that's up to [Sweeney] to go out and see what's available and what the cost is and then make the appropriate call. But you can always use depth and if he can make our lineup better, I'm all for it."
Boston has been linked to Columbus Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin, Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds and Carolina Hurricanes forward Micheal Ferland.
The Bruins (31-17-8) have eked out some wins lately, going into overtime or the shootout in five of their seven games (4-0-3) since the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game, including a 2-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden on Sunday.
They are third in the Atlantic Division with 70 points, one behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have a game in hand. The Bruins are one point ahead of the Montreal Canadiens, who hold the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins face the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, NESN, NBCSCH) on Tuesday. After that, they begin a five-game West Coast road trip.
Bob Murray, the executive vice president and general manager of the Anaheim Ducks, determined that enough was enough. He fired coach Randy Carlyle on Sunday, ending the coach's second stint with the franchise and installing himself as coach for the rest of the season.
The Ducks (21-26-9) are on a precipitous slide, having lost seven straight games while being outscored 37-8. They lost a team-record 12 in a row from Dec. 18-Jan. 15 and are 2-15-4 in their past 21 games.
Video: Grimson and Reid discuss Ducks firing Randy Carlyle
Anaheim is last in the Western Conference, eight points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Their minus-55 goal differential is the worst in the NHL.
So does that mean that Murray is also going to make some changes to his lineup? Is he going to start selling?
"This is the hardest part because we do have good players," Murray said. "I told the players today, 'We have good players, we're just not a good team right now.' This organization, we have to change some things. If the opportunity arises where we can be younger and faster, then I have to look long and hard at it."
The Ducks have already made some moves this season, acquiring forward Devin Shore, defenseman Michael Del Zotto and center Derek Grant, in separate trades, each in January.
But it's entirely possible that Murray is not done.
Forward Jakob Silfverberg could be on the block, with an expiring $3.75 million contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. Beyond that, the Ducks would likely have to trade core players with term on their deals to make a significant move.
Murray will now be behind the bench, getting an even closer look, when the Ducks start their three-game homestand against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN1, FS-W, NHL.TV).
With the Montreal Canadiens in a Stanley Cup Playoff position, they opted to add a player Monday, trading for Los Angeles Kings forward Nate Thompson .
The Canadiens sent a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft to the Kings for Thompson and a fifth-round pick in 2019.
It was an inexpensive deal for the Canadiens to pick up the 34-year-old forward, who is in the final year of a two-year, $3.3 million contract, originally signed with the Ottawa Senators on July 1, 2017.
The fifth-round pick surrendered by Montreal originally belonged to the Arizona Coyotes, who are six points out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, which means the Canadiens will likely drop approximately 15 spots from their own fourth-round pick.
Thompson has six points (four goals, two assists) in 53 games this season. He will be expected to help bolster the Canadiens' fourth line, help on face-offs (53.13 percent), and can play on the penalty kill, where he has averaged 1:46 per game this season. Montreal's penalty kill is 21st in the NHL at 79.3 percent.
This is the second time Thompson has been traded since signing with the Senators.
It's notable that the Canadiens are in position to make an acquisition before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline. They were sixth in the Atlantic Division last season with 71 points. The three Atlantic Division teams that made the playoffs each topped 100.
But this season, the Canadiens (31-18-7) have 69 points in 56 games and hold the first wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, six points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have a game in hand.
The Canadiens could finish as high as the second spot in the Atlantic Division, occupied by the Toronto Maple Leafs (71 points in 55 games), or the third spot, occupied by the Boston Bruins (70 points in 56 games).
This is not the first move for the Canadiens, as they try to keep up in a deep and talented division that is led by the Presidents' Trophy-favorite Tampa Bay Lightning, who have the most points in the NHL (86). They also acquired forward Dale Weise and defenseman Christian Folin from the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman David Schlemko and center Byron Froese on Saturday.
The Canadiens start a three-game road trip against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV).
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues have won six straight games and have moved into the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with 59 points.
The Blues (27-22-5) are tied in points with the Minnesota Wild, who hold the second wild card, but have played two fewer games and have one more non-shootout win.
St. Louis, which swept the Nashville Predators during a home-and-home series this weekend, are two points behind the third-place Dallas Stars in the tight Central Division race. The Blues have a game in hand on the Stars.
The Blues, who fired coach Mike Yeo and replaced him with Craig Berube on Nov. 20, were last in the Western Conference as late as Jan. 5.
After going 11-3-1 since then, the Blues could be moving from sellers to buyers before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline.
Led by rookie goalie Jordan Binnington and the suddenly hot Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues could opt to keep pieces that they otherwise would have shipped out prior to the deadline, such as forward Brayden Schenn or defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.
Schenn has one year remaining on his current contract after this season. Bouwmeester could an unrestricted free agent July 1.
They may even be interested in adding.
The question now is whether they continue this hot streak through the two weeks leading up to the deadline, causing general manager Doug Armstrong to change plans he may have started to formulate last month.
Whether that means additions -- or additions by simply sticking with what he's got -- remains to be seen.
[RELATED: NHL Trade Buzz: Senators finalizing plans for three forwards this week]