It was very apparent that the Boston Bruins‘ Brad Marchand struggled this season and especially in the postseason. Marchand was unable to bury multiple easy scoring chances and did not use his pesky style of hockey to agitate the opposition. He has come under fire from Bruins fans this offseason, and is now rumored to be involved in trade discussions. While general manager Peter Chiarelli vehemently denies the Marchand-Patrick Marleau trade between the Bruins and San Jose Sharks, it remains a possibility that the Bruin may be on his way out of Boston. But if it is for Marleau, the Bruins are making the wrong decision.
Marleau is a very talented goal-scorer. That is a fact, and is backed up by his two Olympic gold medals and seven 30-goal seasons (including a career-high 44 goals in 2009-10). Marleau has put up 861 points in 1,247 NHL games and made the playoffs in all but one of his 16 seasons. He is the Sharks’ franchise leader in games played and points and is an assistant captain.
But, trading Marchand for Marleau in a one-on-one swap would be a huge mistake for the Bruins.
First, the age difference is a huge factor. Marchand is 26. Marleau will turn 35 in September. Marchand is just entering the prime of his career while Marleau only has around 4-5 years left in his career. Marleau is a proven scorer while Marchand still has a lot left to prove. If the Bruins want an older winger to fill out a line with a knack for scoring goals, just re-sign Jarome Iginla.
Next, when Marchand is playing at his best, he can not only be an offensive weapon, but also a pest to the opposition. In this new-age NHL, successful teams need an agitator on their team to take the other team’s best players off their game. Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Sidney Crosby have succumbed to Marchand’s various antics over the years and made him a multi-faceted player. While this is not a knock against Marleau, he does not play that type of style. He is very mild-mannered and lets his actions do most of the talking.
Lastly, there are questions regarding Marleau’s leadership ability and overall ability to fit into the Bruins’ lineup that make this proposed trade shift in San Jose’s favor over the Bruins. Marleau was stripped of his captaincy by the Sharks when Joe Thornton came to California, and is now an assistant captain. It is very rare for a team to remove someone as captain while keeping him on the roster. Then to pair him on a line with the new captain is an even more intriguing point. The Bruins want players who will buy into their defensive structure and team leadership. Marleau has some concerns in both of these areas that raise some eyebrows on an otherwise stellar career.
While the Bruins do not know 100 percent what they have in Marchand, his outbursts offensively, and primarily his rookie year and subsequent postseason, show that when he is on track, Marchand is a dangerous player. There remains a lot to be seen with him still, but his upside is still very high. If he can return to the “Little Ball of Hate” status that drives other teams insane, he is much more valuable than a two-time Olympian entering the latter stages of his career.