Haggerty: Could trade talks be cooking between the B's and Oilers?

Haggerty: Could trade talks be cooking between the B's and Oilers?

With the Stanley Cup Final soon to be over, trade talks will be kicking up across the NHL very soon with free agency just a few weeks away. 

The Boston Bruins will be no different given some of the improvements that clearly need to be made after a second-round exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs, an exit that highlighted areas of the B’s roster that need to be better. It will be perhaps too much of a challenge for B’s general manager Don Sweeney to accomplish everything on the “to do” list and uncover both a second line right wing sniper and a top-4, left-shot defenseman over the next few months.

Clearly the D-man is the priority given that Zdeno Chara is going to be 42 years old next season, and it is now two postseasons in a row where the smaller Krug has suffered a serious injury that knocked him out of the playoffs.  

Sweeney said during last week’s NHL scouting combine that he thinks trade activity is going to pick up around the draft in a couple of weeks, and that gives him plenty of time to either lay new groundwork or revisit talks from the past. 

“There’s a sense that there will be some activity. I think in around the draft, there are several teams with multiple picks, say in the top 50, so I think there will be some jockeying. There are some teams that have made some coaching changes. I think there’s opportunity to explore player transactions at this time,” said Sweeney. “Everybody is sort of anticipating what the cap and how much it’s going to go up, and whether that will dramatically affect anybody’s decision making. There’s some big numbers and some players that teams are going to look to sign that could impact. 

“We’ve got players that we may look at our earlier stage, so those all could be impactful things and decision in planning of your own player movement, plus outside player movement…but there has been some chatter.”

There are potential trade partners out there in teams looking for fresh starts, different directions or a shakeup to the personnel. The most obvious target is Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin given that he’s a Massachusetts kid, and given that the Bruins tried to trade up in the first round of the 2015 draft in order to pick him. There would be a significant cost for a young player like that, of course, and the Canes might not be the best match with the Bruins in terms of moveable pieces involved with a possible trade. 

But how about the Edmonton Oilers and old friend Peter Chiarelli as a trade partner with the Boston Bruins? 

Oilers radio play-by-play man Bob Stauffer had an interesting tweet on Wednesday indicating that the Edmonton wasn’t going to deal their No. 10 pick in the first round. Instead, they could be shopping for a “different ingredient” for their NHL roster while also willing to deal a veteran player with term on their contract. Given some of the talent on the Edmonton roster, that’s something that should pique the interest of the Black and Gold. 

Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom would be at the top of the list of available Edmonton players that fit the criteria Stauffer mentioned, and the 24-year-old would definitely fit Boston’s longstanding need on the back end. Sure he had a down season with five goals and 21 points in 66 games along with a minus-12 rating, but he still was an absolute horse with 22:51 of ice time per game at an ideal 6-foot-3, 220-pound size. Klefbom is also just a single year removed from 12 goals and 38 points while playing in all 82 games, and clearly he has the pedigree as a former first-round pick. There’s also the fact that he’s signed for four more years at just $4.167 million, and would become a major salary cap bargain if he can bounce back and continue to be a reliable top-4 D-man. 

Even more intriguingly, the Oilers are also desperately looking for a power play quarterback and the Bruins just so happen to have one of those in 27-year-old Torey Krug. Krug is at the apex of his value around the league after amassing a whopping 110 points over the last two seasons, and his QB skills on Boston’s top power-play unit have a key part of the B’s special teams’ success. But the Bruins have a budding, young power play QB in Charlie McAvoy ready to take on more responsibility, and they have a young, small left shot puck-moving D-man in Matt Grzelcyk that brings some Krug-like qualities to the table minus some of the high-end offensive finish. 

So there is definitely a plausible scenario where Klefbom and Krug could be at the center of a potential deal between the Bruins and the Oilers if Chiarelli and Sweeney are willing to make a deal. Would it be a 1-for-1 swap of defensemen for defensemen? It probably would not as Chiarelli and Edmonton assistant GM Keith Gretzky have plenty of inside knowledge on many of the young prospects still flowing through the Bruins system, and it would be good business to try to recoup one of them given Klefbom’s relative youth and significant contract term.    

It remains to be seen which scenarios will truly gain steam for the Bruins as the hockey calendar heads toward NHL draft weekend in Dallas, but the situation in Edmonton bears watching for all the Bruins fans out there.


Here's Bruins' first-round playoff scenario entering Sunday vs. Capitals

Here's Bruins' first-round playoff scenario entering Sunday vs. Capitals

The Boston Bruins' potential first-round playoff matchups are laid out for them as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Washington Capitals.

The Montreal Canadiens upset the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, thus eliminating the Pens from playoff contention. That means the B's will either begin their Stanley Cup run against the New York Islanders or the Carolina Hurricanes.

If the Bruins beat the Capitals on Sunday, they'll face the Islanders in the first round. If they lose, they'll face the Hurricanes.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Carolina comes off three straight convincing wins over the New York Rangers in the Toronto bubble. As for the Isles, they took three out of four from the Florida Panthers.

Either way, the B's will have a tough test in Round 1, and their fate will be determined by their final round-robin matchup on Sunday.

Boston currently is 0-2 in Toronto, falling 4-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers and then 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In order to gain some momentum heading into the postseason, there's no doubt the Bruins will need to show more of a sense of urgency than they have in the bubble to this point.

Bruins' Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Jaroslav Halak miss Friday's practice

Bruins' Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Jaroslav Halak miss Friday's practice

Bruins players Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Jaroslav Halak were all missing from Friday’s practice in the Toronto bubble while “unfit to participate”, but all are expected to be back for Sunday’s round-robin showdown with the Washington Capitals.

Cassidy called it a “short-term thing” and expected all three players would be ready to practice on Saturday ahead of their final round-robin game this weekend.

“We anticipate [on Saturday] we’ll have our full group, but until we’ll just keep trying to make it work,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Obviously this whole training camp we haven’t had lines together consistently for different reasons. Will it affect us in the postseason? Time will tell.

“I’d like to see our group together to see what it looks like…all together. But until that happens we’re going to fit people in together for practices and games where they can best help us and then go from there.”

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It will be the first time the entire Bruins group will be healthy, ready and available to play and Bruce Cassidy indicated that both Ondrej Kase and defenseman Connor Clifton should get in their first game action of the last two weeks.

Clifton will likely play in place of rookie D-man Jeremy Lauzon in order to get him some game action prior to next week’s playoff games, and Kase will be expected to knock the rust off after being set behind while spending a month in quarantine at the beginning of the NHL’s Return to Play.

“He looks good. He’s making some plays. He’s got some jump,” said Cassidy of Kase in practice this week. “I think the first three days were tough on him for obvious reasons and now he’s been at it for a full week. You can see he’s a little more natural with everything he does. He’s got quick hands.

“My anticipation is he’ll have lots of energy and he’ll fight the puck like a lot of our guys early on in their first game back because of the speed. I anticipate he’ll get some shots because he’s been shot-first in practice and we could use a little more of that. We need him to play. Hopefully he can pick it up quick because he’s missed some time. We have every intention of using him in Game 1 [next week], we just have to see where he’s at [against the Capitals]. Hopefully he’s ready to go.”

With Kase and Clifton expected to play on Sunday, the Bruins will have everybody they expect to use on their roster with at least some game action under their belt and ready to play whoever their opponent ends up being whether it’s the Islanders, Penguins or Hurricanes based on the way things play out this weekend.