There are a number of Bruins trade targets at the forward position who will be discussed ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline, and some have a higher probability of moving than others.
There’s a solid likelihood that Chris Kreider eventually gets moved, and names like Tyler Toffoli and Andreas Athanasiou feel like players who will definitely move on from their respective last place teams before everything is said and done at the deadline.
One player of interest who may or may not be moved at the trade deadline is New Jersey Devils right winger Kyle Palmieri, a player with term who's signed for $4.65 million next season and leads the Devils with 37 points in 50 games while ranking second on the team with 20 goals this season.
He’s arguably the most effective Devils player on their roster and that means moving him would have immediate catastrophic results for New Jersey.
The 29-year-old is on pace for 30 goals and close to 60 points this season and has topped 25 goals and 50 points in three of the four seasons he’s spent with the Devils since getting shipped out of Anaheim. Palmieri isn’t the big, physical winger that the Bruins really need at 5-foot-11, 185-pounds, but he’s productive while playing on a right side where the Bruins really need to acquire more high-end depth over the foreseeable future.
Palmieri also has 38 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience despite now playing for a dreadful New Jersey team, so he’s a proven commodity in a postseason where the Bruins will need whomever they acquire to step up this spring.
The big question on Palmieri is whether or not the Devils will trade their leading scorer given the lack of established, entrenched leadership at the top of New Jersey’s hockey operations.
Former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald holds the title of interim GM after Ray Shero left the organization in the middle of the season following the Taylor Hall deal, and bold moves involving the team’s best players really aren’t the norm for a general manager until that interim tag goes away.
The other big question is what kind of cost there would be for a player like Palmieri who's been an outstanding producer since arriving in New Jersey. Given that he’s a productive player with term on a pretty affordable contract, the cost would start with a first round pick and a young cost-controlled NHL roster player like Anders Bjork, and then undoubtedly involve a high-end prospect like Trent Frederic or Urho Vaakanainen as well.
That’s a costly proposition that the Bruins have really stayed away from since Sweeney took over as head of hockey operations.
It wouldn’t be a simple rental move to make at the deadline, but then again it would also give a more long-term solution to a top-6 issue that the Bruins have been slapping band-aid solutions on since Don Sweeney took over as GM five years ago.
A deal for Palmieri is probably a bit lower in terms of probability than others like Kreider or Toffoli, and there are other players of interest on the New Jersey roster as well like Blake Coleman and Miles Wood who could be decent fits for the Bruins. The 24-year-old Wood is having a down year with just 10 goals and 19 points in 54 games with a minus-14 rating, but he’s a big, physical player with speed whom the Bruins have been intrigued by over the years.
The 28-year-old Coleman is another forward who plays with bite and is in the midst of a career year while leading the Devils with 21 goals this season, and is on pace for 32 goals and 50 points while seeming to always play well against the Bruins. Wood is signed for two more years at $2.75 million while still an RFA at the end of his current contract, and Coleman is signed for one more year at $1.8 million before he hits unrestricted free agency.
So neither of those players would come cheaply, but they are also on a Devils team that should be ripping everything down to the studs on the current NHL roster and building up around Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Wil Butcher on the back end.
The bottom line for the Bruins when it comes to Palmieri? There are a number of potential trade candidates on the Devils roster that the Bruins would, and should, have interest in and the Bruins have already done business with New Jersey as recently as last season when they dealt for Marcus Johansson at the trade deadline.
Perhaps history will strike twice and the Bruins will go against the grain to make a deal with a Devils team that’s strictly in a rebuilding mode after dealing away Taylor Hall in the middle of a lost season.