The Boston Bruins are playing their best hockey of the 2021-22 NHL season with eight wins in nine games this month.
The scoring depth has improved thanks to a reshuffling of the lines and the goaltending got a boost with Tuukka Rask's return.
Despite the recent run of successful results, the Bruins should still make a serious effort to improve their roster before the March 21 NHL trade deadline.
One of the team's primary needs is another top-four defenseman. A lack of defensive depth has been an issue for the B's in recent playoff runs, especially last season when injuries to Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller were too much to overcome versus the New York Islanders in the second round.
The top defenseman rumored to be available is John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars. What's the asking price for Klingberg? Here's what The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun wrote Monday morning:
"...If they’re selling on Klingberg (which I think they will), the return package could be a first-round pick, a prospect plus maybe an additional pick. Just based on Savard fetching a first- and a third-round pick last year, it’s a reasonable ask for Dallas since Klingberg is a higher-level player.
"If Klingberg signs an extension with his new team as part of a trade, then the return package would be even better for the Stars."
Klingberg is 29 years old and his contract expires after this season, so he'll be an unrestricted free agent in July unless he signs an extension before then.
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The Bruins have one of the worst prospect pools in the league, which means most other teams have better assets to pull of these kinds of deals. They've also traded first-round picks in 2018 and 2020, and it doesn't make sense to give up another this season unless the player coming back is not a rental.
Klingberg is a good player, but a package consisting of a first-round pick, a prospect and maybe another pick is a pretty steep asking price that the Bruins should not pay.
Boston already has two quality defenseman on the right side of the blue line in Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. Klingberg, as a right-shot defenseman, wouldn't be the most ideal fit for this group. A left-shot defenseman needs to be a bigger priority.
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From a statistical perspective, the Stars d-man averaged 1.25 5-on-5 points per 60 minutes over his first four seasons in Dallas, per Natural Stat Trick, but that rate has dropped to 0.86 5-on-5 points per 60 minutes during the last three seasons. Put simply, Klingberg is not the same offensive player he was earlier in his career. Maybe that's one of the reasons why the Stars have not been able to agree to a new long-term contract with Klingberg's representatives?
The Bruins should not be offloading premium assets for a player whose numbers are getting worse with age. Add in the possibility that Klingberg could be a rental given his upcoming UFA status, and it's not hard to understand why Boston should look elsewhere for defensive reinforcements prior to the trade deadline.