The Boston Bruins have hit their first rough patch of the 2022-23 NHL season.
We can debate how "rough" it's actually been, but they've lost three consecutive games for the first time all year. Through the first 50 games, the Bruins' chemistry has been fantastic, the goaltending has been much better than expected and so many players up and down the roster are having career seasons.
Despite the recent losing streak, Boston still ranks No. 2 in goals scored, No. 1 in goals allowed and leads the league standings by nine points over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Bruins have a strong locker room, so making a move or two at the trade deadline isn't likely to alter their team chemistry in a negative way.
Bruins trade targets: Five forwards Boston should pursue ahead of deadline
The most popular name on the trade market is Bo Horvat. The Vancouver Canucks captain is having the best season of his career with 54 points (31 goals, 23 assists) in 49 games. The 27-year-old center is in the final year of his contract and eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.
The Bruins are one of many contending teams that have shown interest in Horvat, per Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period.
"Carolina, Colorado, Seattle, Vegas, Boston, Dallas and the New York Rangers have all expressed interest in Horvat, and there have been others," Pagnotta wrote Sunday. "The price tag remains high, but it sounds like progress is being made and my spidey senses are tingling."
The Bruins' interest in Horvat did not begin during this season, per Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli.
"No secret -- this is not the first time that the Bruins and Horvat have been linked," Servalli said Friday on Daily Faceoff Live. "I think their interest in Horvat actually goes back a full calendar year. They're one of the teams that's sort of very quietly been keeping tabs on Horvat, even before this magical season that he's had."
Horvat would give the Bruins another top-six forward and improve their scoring depth for what they hope will be a long playoff run in the spring. He would also be a great replacement for Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci as a top-six center whenever those franchise legends decide to retire. So, there's definitely a short- and long-term case to make for the Bruins adding Horvat.
2023 NHL trade deadline: Ranking Bruins' best assets to make deals
But, as we've written about several times in recent weeks, pulling off that kind of trade could be tough for the Bruins. They don't have a ton of quality trade assets. The B's prospect pool is among the weakest in the league and they don't own a second-round pick in 2023 or 2024. The salary cap could cause some headaches, too. The Bruins are tight against the cap right now. They also have more than 10 players on their current roster eligible for free agency in the offseason. David Pastrnak, Jeremy Swayman and Trent Frederic are among the notable players who will need raises.
The Bruins have been pretty active at the trade deadline since Don Sweeney took over as general manager in the summer of 2015. He's been particularly aggressive in adding forwards around this time of the season, with Rick Nash, Charlie Coyle and Taylor Hall among notable examples.
Boston has a fantastic opportunity to win another Stanley Cup in 2023. Therefore, Sweeney would be smart to be aggressive in looking for roster upgrades ahead of the March 3 trade deadline.