‘He’s going to be a great addition’: Bruins players buzzing over getting Charlie Coyle
LAS VEGAS — Charlie Coyle was brought in to play third-line center, according to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, who left murky the question of whether he will add a top-six wing before Monday’s trade deadline (3 p.m. EST).
“I don’t know if we’re necessarily going to do anything else,” Sweeney said on a conference call Thursday morning, a day after landing Coyle from Minnesota for Ryan Donato and a conditional fifth-round pick.
“We’ll continue to receive calls and make calls and we’ll continue to look at the marketplace and see what may or may not fit with our club. Will we look at adding more depth? Possibly, but we feel good about where we’re at. But you’re never comfortable.”
Sweeney, who ceded a first-round pick, a young player (Ryan Spooner), and a prospect (Ryan Lindgren) in a package for Rick Nash a year ago, may not be willing to pay a similar price for a potential rental such as Ottawa’s Mark Stone, a defensive stalwart who could slide into the top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
Or he may do so, since the Bruins — second in the East (36-17-8), winners of seven in a row, with points in 12 straight games — have their eyes on their first Stanley Cup since 2011.
The addition of Coyle — a versatile, experienced, two-way forward familiar to many of his new teammates — had the Bruins buzzing in the dressing room after a 3-2 shootout win Wednesday against the Golden Knights.
“He’s going to be a great addition,” said Marchand. “He plays a fast, heavy game. He competes extremely hard. We’re excited.”
David Backes, who faced Coyle many times during his years with the St. Louis Blues, called him a “big body with tons of athletic ability. He’s only going to help us. I don’t know where he slots in, but not fun to play against, with his size, his ability to control pucks and finish plays.”
To get Coyle, who will join the team for Saturday’s game in St. Louis, the Bruins surrendered a well-liked, hard-shooting prospect in Donato, but took nothing off the current roster to add a mid-aged forward (he turns 27 March 2) who can bolster the third-line center position or fill in as David Pastrnak’s replacement as a top-six right wing.
“It says that we’ve got another great opportunity here,” Backes said. “But you just can’t throw a bunch of pieces of a puzzle into a bag and think they’re going to fit. We’ve got to bring him into the group.
“We’ve got an awesome group of guys here, probably the best I’ve ever been around as far as character, as far as being inclusive and picking each other up. No one’s left alone or doing their own thing. I think he’ll see that right away.”
Two Bruins leaders, Zdeno Chara and Bergeron, called Coyle before Wednesday’s game to welcome him. “Pretty classy,” Coyle said Thursday on a conference call. “I was pretty excited about that.” Pals Chris Wagner and Torey Krug also texted him.
Though he had spent the previous seven years with the Wild, playing for the Bruins “definitely was” a goal for Coyle, who recalled going to “plenty of” games on Causeway St. as a youngster, particularly when cousin Tony Amonte was visiting. As a kid, he envisioned pulling on the Black and Gold sweater while playing on the street, pond or rink. He’ll wear No. 13 at home for the first time Tuesday against the Sharks.
“You’ve got me smiling just thinking about it,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of emotions. I know there are going to be people there, the same people that are always watching on TV when I’ve been out in Minnesota.”
According to Wagner, a longtime friend, that’s when it will hit him.
“Obviously he’s pumped,” said Walpole Wags, who played with Coyle (East Weymouth) with the South Shore Kings junior team. “To come home in the middle of the season is pretty cool.
“I know there’s been a lot of talk about it the last couple of years for him. I’m pumped, because it just makes our team that much better. I think the world of him. Great player. Two-way player. Hard. Heavy. Skates well. Skill.”
Coyle also has roots at Weymouth High, Thayer Academy, the Foxborough-based Kings, and Boston University. He trains in the summer at Edge Performance Systems with several local pros, including Wagner, and skates in the Foxboro Summer League.
He is the fifth player on the Bruins roster with area ties, along with Wagner, Noel Acciari (South Shore Kings/Johnston, R.I.), Charlie McAvoy (BU), and Matt Grzelcyk (Charlestown/BU).
“Yeah, we’re getting overrun here by Boston boys,” Marchand said. “But the city loves ’em.”
Wagner, who signed a two-year, $2.5 million deal last July 1, had the whole offseason to adjust to the idea of playing for the team he rooted for as a kid. Not everyone can excel at home.
“He won’t have a problem with that,” said Wagner, an instant fan favorite who has a career high in goals (8). “Maybe it’s better in the middle of the season, just because you don’t have that much time to think about it. You’re just playing right away.
“By the end of the summer, I was like, all right, let’s get this thing going. Then the China trip, the preseason . . . you’re like, oh man.
“I was just telling him it’ll probably set in Tuesday when we play at home. Get a nice couple of days on the road with the guys to get acclimated. It’ll be good.”
Those who spoke Wednesday saluted the Scituate-raised Donato, who leaves his favorite team for a Twin Cities opportunity.
“You hate to lose Ryan,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’ve put some work in with Ryan. He’s a good kid. He wants to be a hockey player. He’s doing all the right things to become an NHL player.
“To get talent, you’ve got to give up talent. That’s the way it goes. I wish him all the best.”
Cassidy, who has been working with a rotating cast of third-line centers all season — the latest is Trent Frederic, who was assigned to AHL Providence on Thursday — may have just found his long-term fix. Coyle has another year after this on a deal that hits Boston’s cap for $3.2 million.
Sweeney has another four days to work the phones. Wednesday’s move was well-received.
“I think the message is we’re in this for the long haul,” Wagner said. “I think we’ve proven we can play with anybody. Getting Pasta back eventually will be huge, too. We’re pretty deep.
“Everyone’s talking about Tampa and Toronto. That’s fine with us. Just keep talking about them. We’ll slide under the radar.”