What would a successful NHL trade deadline look like for the Boston Bruins?
Acquiring a top-four defenseman would be the ideal scenario for the B's.
The Bruins lack the required amount of depth to be a legit Stanley Cup contender. Why is that? Well, they lost two important defensemen in free agency -- Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug -- over the offseason. Injuries also have been a factor with several of the team's defensemen missing games at various times throughout the campaign.
While the young kids -- Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril and Matt Grzelcyk -- have mostly played well after taking on increased roles, there's still way too much inexperience on this Boston blue line. It was a factor Tuesday night against the Devils when the B's nearly lost after several silly defensive mistakes resulted in New Jersey being gifted a couple easy goals. Boston was fortunate to win 5-4 in a shootout.
Who could the Bruins target in the trade market to upgrade the blue line? Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm is No. 6 on TSN's "Trade Bait" board entering Wednesday, and he won't be cheap to acquire. Not at all, actually.
“According to people around the league that I’ve talked to the last couple days, it is a three-asset ask to get in on the bidding for Mattias Ekholm, which is a first-round pick, an elite prospect and a third asset, which that can take on different forms," Pierre LeBrun said last week on TSN's "Insider Trading".
"That’s a lot, and part of that is the Nashville Predators don’t have to trade Mattias Ekholm at this deadline. He’s signed through next season, and really, I think there's also the internal debate for Nashville is is their best offer at this deadline when contending teams believe they can get Ekholm for two playoff runs? Or is it after the July expansion draft when teams who are interested in him no longer have to worry about their protection issues. So, a lot to consider here for Ekholm and the Predators closing in on April 12.”
Ekholm is a reliable two-way defenseman who could help the Bruins in all three zones at 5-on-5 and special teams. He's exactly the kind of top-four d-man that this team needs.
What would the Bruins' three-asset package look like? Perhaps a 2021 first-round pick, Jack Studnicka or John Beecher and maybe another draft pick. That's a lot to give up for the Bruins, who have made only one first-round pick in the last three years and have a prospect pool ranked near the bottom of the league.
Another problem is the Predators might not even want to trade Ekholm after the team's recent climb up the standings. Nashville all of a sudden is holding a playoff spot in the Central Division after winning six games in a row and eight of its last 10 matchups.
The Bruins also aren't the only team in need of blue line depth at the trade deadline. Pretty much every Cup contender could use another veteran defenseman.
Ekholm is an awesome player and worth the price for most teams, including the Bruins. Whether he's actually dealt could come down to how well the Predators are playing as the April 12 trade deadline nears.