Trade targets for Bruins as they enter trade deadline season
The Bruins aren’t necessarily going to have the same mind-blowing trade scenarios and Internet-breaking rumors as the Boston Celtics this February, but the Black and Gold will still be in the mix of things. The uptick in performance since replacing their head coach has emboldened Bruins management about their playoff hopes for this season. But Don Sweeney is also determined to maintain the strict long term view that will prevent Boston from wasting future assets.
The Bruins have clear needs on the wing, on the back end and potentially at the backup goaltender spot with the March 1 trade deadline in plain sight, and they have a ton of viable assets if they want to make a deal, be it a big one or something to shore up depth in one of any number of areas. What we don’t expect to see is a repeat of last season where Sweeney gave up a group of future assets for pedestrian rental players in Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles, and then didn’t even make the playoffs on top of it all.
So here are a number of trade possibilities for the Bruins with the NHL deadline little more than a week away
The 24-year-old is the most common name associated with the B’s in trade talks, and with good reason. Landeskog has been a lock for 20-25 goals and 50-60 points when fully healthy with the Avalanche, and is the kind of 6-foot-1, 215-pound power forward-type that has enjoyed good success with David Krejci in the past. He’s also been a captain with Colorado during his young career and is on a fairly reasonable contract that will pay him under $6 million per season for the next four years beyond this one. So there is plenty to like about Landeskog on the surface and it could be a good fit in Boston’s top-6 group, but there are also some heavy duty red flags. The fact he’s available by Colorado given his production and his contract raises a lot of questions, and Landeskog is also going through a very down season 11 goals, 23 points and a minus-16. He’s had concussion issues in Colorado and it appears, whether because of injury or his long term contract security, that some of the bite has left his power forward game.
The biggest reason it won’t happen: The cost of Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy in a package for Landeskog is a non-starter for the Bruins.
Chances it might happen: Slim. Only if Joe Sakic and the Avs drop their price demands, but it should be noted the Bruins do like the player.
The 28-year-old is looking to be the best defenseman available at the trade market, and because of that the Blues want a first round pick, NHL player and prospect for the rental puck-mover. That’s a price that is absolutely too steep for a Bruins team not really looking to invest in the rental market with a rebuilding/developing roster, and certainly the Bruins aren’t going to be in the running for the kind of seven-year, $49 million contract extension Shattenkirk is probably looking at following the season. With Brandon Carlo already in place and Charlie McAvoy at the NHL level perhaps as soon as next season, the Bruins aren’t going to heavily invest in another right shot D-man that would block one of those players from developing into a top-4 guy. It’s too bad because Shattenkirk, in a lot of ways, is exactly what the Bruins could use as a cerebral, slick puck-mover capable of producing offense and quarterbacking the power play. The 11 goals, 42 points and seven PP goals are all noteworthy for Shattenkirk as he’s going to breathe life into whatever team’s offense he joins once St. Louis deals him away.
The biggest reason it won’t happen: the trade price tag for Shattenkirk and the contract extension price tag for him as well.
Chances it might happen: nonexistent at the current price, but it could get interesting for the B’s if Doug Armstrong comes way down on the assets he’s looking for in return for a rental player.
The Bruins talked with the Florida Panthers about Kulikov last summer before he was eventually traded to the Buffalo Sabres, and it’s been rough for the D-man in his time with Buffalo. The 26-year-old has a goal and two points along with a minus-13 in 34 games while battling injuries, and hasn’t made much of an impact despite getting 22:22 of ice time in the games that he has played. That’s a far cry from the two goals and 20 points that Kulikov averaged as a top-4 defenseman for the Panthers in the previous two seasons, and is something that has surely kicked down his value on this month’s trade market. The Sabres haven’t decided whether they will trade or extend Kulikov at this point, but it will be interesting to see if the Black and Gold once again make a push for a player like this if the price tag is low enough for a rental. Sweeney said he wasn’t interested in the rental market headed into the deadline, but that could change if the price is low enough for a player that could potentially make much more of an impact than players like Stempniak and Liles did last season.
The biggest reason it won’t happen: The Sabres decide they want to keep him after investing in him with last summer’s trade.
Chances it might happen: Likelier than a big ticket rental player like Shattenkirk, but it would still require a sea change for Don Sweeney to dip into any kind of rental D-man.
A lot will depend on what Anton Khudobin looks like when he gets a start this week in the back-to-back set of games against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, but the Bruins have to be thinking about backup goalies either way. If Khudobin gets hurt or stumbles over the last couple of months, the Bruins have zero veteran depth to support Tuukka Rask as they look to keep him fresh for a possible playoff stint. Halak has looked excellent at times in the AHL (13-1-1, 1.96 goals against average and .931 save percentage) since being demoted by the New York Islanders, and he’s totally dominated the Providence Bruins in some head-to-head matchups with B’s officials watching him at his very best. Clearly there are stumbling blocks like the $4.5 million salary cap hit and the remaining year on his contract, and the fact they had already invested in Khudobin as their NHL backup for the last couple of years. That’s not even taking into account what Garth Snow would want for him, but it can’t be much given that he’s been busted down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The biggest reason it won’t happen: Khudobin has another good game this week, and quiets down the desperate need for a backup behind Tuukka Rask.
Chances it might happen: It may not be Halak, but the Bruins could certainly use somebody regardless of how Khudobin plays over the next few days. Otherwise they might again be forced into playing Rask too much down the stretch just as they did last season.
Berglund checks off a lot of boxes for the Bruins. He’s 6-foot-4, 223 pounds and can play left wing, and would be a skilled option alongside David Krejci that’s had some pretty good offensive success at the NHL level. It’s been six years since Berglund was a 20-goal scorer in the NHL, but he’s on pace to score 23 goals this season with 17 goals and 24 points in 60 games for the Blues. Berglund might also be extended by the Blues, but could be part of the veteran purge along with Kevin Shattenkirk if they decide to truly turn over the roster in a season of St. Louis transition. Berglund would be a middle-of-the-road option for the Bruins if they went the rental option route, but the B’s might be better off using the final two months to evaluate Peter Cehlarik in that top-6 role rather than rolling in a UFA-to-be veteran like Berglund.
The biggest reason it won’t happen: The Bruins don’t see Berglund as enough of an impact player to make an exception in the rental market, and pay the price for him.
Chances it might happen: Doubtful. With so many centers/wingers already on the roster and one big, slower forward like David Backes already in the mix, Berglund doesn’t feel like that much of an upgrade.
One of the more interesting names on the list, Patrick Eaves is having a career year in Dallas with 21 goals and 38 points while having snapped off an incredible 11 power play goals this season. The former Boston College standout is obviously familiar with the area after his time spent at the Heights, and he was actually dealt to the Bruins once before in exchange for Aaron Ward, and then was immediately bought out by the B’s. The 32-year-old free agent to be comes at just a $1 million salary cap tag and he wouldn’t cost that much on the trade market, and could add some really interesting, veteran depth up front with the Bruins relying on young players like Frank Vatrano and Peter Cehlarik down the stretch.
The biggest reason it won’t happen: Eaves is too much in the Stempniak and Liles class of rental players available on the trade market.
Chances it might happen: If Sweeney has a chance of heart about the whole rental player thing, I could see Eaves potentially becoming somebody the Bruins might like given his versatility, his power play performance and the price tag that shouldn’t be all that high.
The 26-year-old Eberle has been linked to the Bruins before, and is having a down season in Edmonton where he’s posted just 12 goals and 35 points in 59 games. That’s a big step down from the guy that posted 34 goals and 72 points in his second NHL season, and has routinely scored 20 plus goals and posted 50 plus points in his NHL career with the Oil. He’s a right winger that can finish around the net, but he’s also a $6 million price tag player signed for another two seasons beyond the current one. That means the price tag would be substantial even if the B’s were buying low on him, and they would have to move salary elsewhere in order to bring on a player like the skilled Eberle. While Eberle has been a productive guy in the past, the 5-foot-11, 184-pounder isn’t really the prototype for what the Bruins are looking for to skate alongside David Krejci either.
The biggest reason it won’t happen: Eberle plays for the Oilers, so it would require the Bruins getting together with Oil GM Peter Chiarelli on a hockey trade. Don’ t bet on that happening.
Chances it might happen: Zero. Eberle isn’t the right guy for the kind of price tag he’d command in a trade. I’m also not sure the Bruins and Oilers will get together for a trade of any kind until some of the personalities involved have changed.