Bruins

Potential Bruins trade target Chris Kreider responds to rumors ahead of deadline

Potential Bruins trade target Chris Kreider responds to rumors ahead of deadline

New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider is going to be one of the most talked about players as the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline approaches.

It's not hard to understand why. The 6-foot-3, 216-pound winger has the type of power forward skill set that is well-suited for the Stanley Cup playoffs, which makes him an attractive trade target for any contending team. In fact, NBC Sports Boston's Bruins insider Joe Haggerty reported earlier this week that Kreider "will be the Bruins' top option for a top-six winger at the trade deadline, according to multiple hockey sources."

The Rangers are 11 points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, so the chances of the Blueshirts making the postseason are pretty slim. Kreider is an unrestricted free agent in July, and it would make sense for the Rangers to trade him before the deadline and not risk losing a very talented player for nothing in free agency.

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Kreider was asked about his Rangers future at NHL All-Star Media Day on Thursday, and his immediate focus is solely on his current team.

"I’m just worried about winning hockey games," Kreider said Thursday at All-Star Media Day, per ProHockeyTalk. "Winning solves a lot of problems. It’s the old adage and probably a little bit cliché, but we take it one day at a time, one game at a time and just try and get better. I think we are getting better. Our group’s worlds better than we were at the beginning of the year.”

Kreider also added: "I’ve only ever pictured myself in a Rangers jersey, and until I’m not a Ranger, I’m a Ranger.”

The 28-year-old forward has tallied 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) in 48 games this season. He's almost certainly going to hit the 20-goal mark for the fifth time in his career.

Besides his offensive skill and physical style of play, Kreider also is a good target for the Bruins because of his familiarity with Boston. He was born in Massachusetts and played three seasons at Boston College. 

Kreider has 77 games of playoff experience as well, and several of his 23 career postseason goals came in clutch situations.

The Bruins have a great chance to win the Stanley Cup this season, and it would behoove them to upgrade their roster with another proven top-six forward who can provide secondary scoring behind the Perfection Line. Kreider is an ideal player for that type of role.

Haggerty: Top-six forwards for B's to pursue at trade deadline

NHL rumors: Joe Thornton stays with Sharks despite Bruins trade interest

NHL rumors: Joe Thornton stays with Sharks despite Bruins trade interest

UPDATE (3:10 p.m. ET): Joe Thornton isn't going to a contender, after all.

The San Jose Sharks declined to move the veteran forward ahead of Monday's NHL trade deadline, per TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

Thornton reportedly had interest from several teams -- including his former club, the Boston Bruins -- ahead of the deadline.

-- End of update --

The Boston Bruins have hours remaining to make a deal before Monday's 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline.

And a reunion with Joe Thornton seemingly is still on the table.

According to Sportsnet's Eric Engels, the veteran San Jose Sharks winger remains on the Bruins' radar ahead of the deadline. But Engels reports there are other targets Boston covets more, although the club isn't willing to deal another first-round pick.

The Bruins already made a splash by acquiring winger Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks for a 2020 first-rounder and prospect Axel Andersson.

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Engels suggests general manager Don Sweeney and Co. have another move to make, however.

Our Joe Haggerty laid out Boston's case to swing another trade Monday morning and also views Thornton as an intriguing option for the Bruins.

The 40-year-old forward spent his first eight seasons with the B's, and while he hasn't been very productive this season (27 points on four goals and 23 assists), he could provide valuable leadership for a deep Stanley Cup Playoff run.

The Bruins still have all of their future draft picks with the exception of their 2020 first- and fourth-rounders and intriguing prospects like Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen, so there's plenty in Sweeney's arsenal if he wants to improve the NHL's current best team before 3 p.m. ET.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the NHL trade deadline. This Monday at 2:30 p.m., stream the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Show on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBoston.com.

Bruins' salary cap savings is best part of Nick Ritchie trade with Ducks

Bruins' salary cap savings is best part of Nick Ritchie trade with Ducks

The Boston Bruins didn't upgrade their lineup in a profound way Monday by trading right winger Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for left winger Nick Ritchie, but the salary cap savings for the B's could be quite valuable.

Heinen is a better offensive player than Ritchie, even though he's been disappointing for Boston with 22 points in 58 games this season. Ritchie is a bottom-six player, but he will give the Bruins more size and toughness for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the most important aspect of this trade is how it gives the Bruins more financial flexibility. 

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Heinen is signed through the 2020-21 season with a salary cap hit of $2.8 million, per CapFriendly. Ritchie also is under contract through next season with a team-friendly $1,498,925 cap hit. So, the Bruins save about $1.3 million in salary cap space with this trade.

Why does the savings matter?

It gives Bruins general manager Don Sweeney additional room under the salary cap this summer to re-sign some of their free agents.

The Bruins are expected to have just under $24 million in cap space this offseason after the Ritchie trade. This is a pretty good amount of room under the cap, and it should be enough to address several of the team's most important free agents.

Here's a look at the top five Bruins players eligible for unrestricted or restricted free agency on July 1.

1. Torey Krug, D, UFA
2. Zdeno Chara, D, UFA
3. Jake DeBrusk, LW, RFA
4. Jaroslav Halak, G, UFA
5. Matt Grzelcyk, D, RFA 

The most important free agent the Bruins have to consider re-signing is Krug. The 28-year-old veteran is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, and he's also one of the team's leaders and a fan favorite. Krug is tied for ninth in scoring among defensemen with 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists) in 55 games. His power play ability is also among the league's best. Krug has tallied 25 of his points with the man advantage, and the Bruins have had a top-four power play in the league over the past three seasons with him running the No. 1 unit.

It's possible that Krug's annual average salary in his next contract could hit $8 million or more, especially if he hits the open market. Krug and St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo are the top defensemen who could be unrestricted free agents this summer. However, Krug said in September that taking less money to remain in Boston is "something I'm interested in."

This Ritchie trade is unlikely to impact the Bruins in a significant manner on the ice for the rest of this season, but opening up more than $1 million in salary cap space definitely will help in the offseason. Every little bit of cap space helps, especially when you're a team like the Bruins constructing a roster to win the Stanley Cup in the short term.