Last season, NHL rookie Seth Griffith put up 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 30 games for the Boston Bruins.
His rookie year didn’t turn heads, but his situation wasn’t the best, either. The former London Knights standout, who sat second in scoring to only current Arizona Coyotes rookie Max Domi in his final season of OHL play, wasn’t called up because his time for the NHL had come; instead, he was a part of the team’s rotating cast of characters used to compensate for centre depth injuries and a struggling roster.
The Bruins missed the playoffs, and very few were surprised.
His sophomore NHL season, though, we’ve only seen two games of Griffith. In those two games, he got in one assist, two shot attempts, and just 11:43 of average ice time. He strictly played the secondary wing (meaning he never took a faceoff), posted an abysmal 33.3 Corsi For percentage, and has been in the AHL ever since.
With the trade deadline looming, the Boston Bruins are primed to see the post-season this year. They may trade Loui Eriksson, but it’s beginning to sound more like the team may keep him. If the original six club needs to offer up a piece to bring on a rental, Griffith may just be it.
If you’re that team looking to sell? You should hope he’s coming back your way.
In just 43 AHL games this year, Griffith boasts 57 points and 109 shots on goal. That’s just five fewer recorded shots than his previous career high, but achieved in 26 fewer games, and with seven more points being produced, to boot. He’s tied for the lead in AHL scoring, but with eight games in hand over fellow leading scorer Chris Borque, and on Monday, he had a five-point game (2G, 3A) to help lift the Providence Bruins to a 6-3 victory over the Hershey Bears. He’s second in primary points in the AHL, and third in points per game played among players with at least 15 games on the season, behind only teammate Frank Vatrano and former NHLer Scott Gomez.
Those kinds of numbers seem like something Boston should want to keep, but there’s a quietly impressive group of forward prospects brewing in Boston’s AHL system that make Griffith an attractive piece to dangle in front of teams with veterans available.
Frank Vatrano is undersized, but already boasts numbers that suggest he could quickly have middle to top six upside. His 4.3 shots per game overshadow Griffith’s 2.5, and he’s collected 33 points in just 22 games. He’s scoring at over a goal per game, with 23 of his points coming by way of the back of the net. While Vatrano lacks the OHL pedigree that Griffith offers, the two are competing for limited roster space moving forward.
There’s also the impressive (if also undersized) Austin Czarnik, who used to captain the University of Miami-Ohio, and the enigmatic Alexander Kokhlachev. Add in Noel Acciari (another former NCAA standout who’s done well in the AHL this year), Sean Kuraly (who should finish up with his own NCAA career before long) and the two first-rounder forwards Boston selected in the summer of 2015, and someone may have to go.
Where would Griffith be a good fit, then?
The obvious option is the Anaheim Ducks. Their bottom six is clicking this year, but they have a number of expiring contracts for aging players and could be served by dealing a defenseman for a package involving Griffith. Boston badly needs blue line help, and they have the forward prospect pool to offer something of value out west.
Looking at former teammates of Griffith, Tampa Bay and Arizona have Max Domi and Vladislav Namestnikov, although Tampa Bay may not be looking for more forward depth of Griffith’s variety and the Coyotes need centre help more than they need a winger.
Of course, that’s not to say that Boston can’t keep Griffith.
Despite being a small forward — the former fifth round pick is listed at just 5’9″ and 192 lbs — Griffith provides depth on the right side and helps with potential secondary power play options in the future. The team’s left side is already strong, with players like Brad Marchand, Matt Beleskey, David Pastrnak, and Frank Vatrano all listed as natural left wings. On the right, things are noticeably weaker; while Czarnik also shoots right, the Bruins have fewer options across the ice moving forward. Holding on to Griffith, certainly wouldn’t do the club any harm.
Either way, though, Seth Griffith is a name that should be on every Bruins fans’ lips — whether he stays or goes.