The Bruins are going to make an aggressive best pitch for the services of productive Rangers winger Chris Kreider if, or when, he becomes available ahead of next Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
They will not be alone as a highly interested suitor for Kreider, however, and need to be prepared with contingency plans in case the Rangers winger goes elsewhere over the next week. It’s a good thing for the Bruins that there will be other options out there for them.
There isn’t a player exactly like Kreider right now out on the trade market, but Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson might just be the next player on the priority list for the Black and Gold. The Bruins are very much interested in the 25-year-old right winger at the deadline, per sources, even if he has just one goal and four points while being sidelined since December with a shoulder injury suffered during a fight with Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki.
The injury has taken longer than expected to heal for Anderson after he also suffered a shoulder injury in last spring’s playoff series against the Bruins, so there are red flags there to be sure.
He’s resumed practicing with the Blue Jackets over the last few weeks and he’ll need to return to the lineup before a team like the Bruins would move on him. But there’s little doubt Anderson checks so many of the boxes if he is indeed healthy.
He’s a natural right wing, he’s 6-foot-3, 220-pounds and scored 27 goals last season while registering over 200 hits and 60 penalty minutes. And that was all before he played like a hard-hitting, physical beast against the Bruins in the second round postseason series a year ago, and left everybody impressed with his playing level and toughness at the most important time of year.
It all comes down to Anderson’s health and whether the Bruins can rely on him to be a top-six power forward-type for the rest of the season after missing time since December. There’s always the chance a lingering shoulder issue could negatively impact Anderson’s tenacity level when he does return, and that would take quite a bit away from his overall effectiveness for a team like the Bruins.
Even though it’s a buy-low proposition with a player in Anderson -- essentially damaged goods for the moment -- one would also expect he isn’t going to come cheap given his size/strength/production combination and his status as a restricted free agent following this season. Anderson could become part of the long term big picture for the Bruins and that kind of value will be baked into the cake for trade offers to Columbus.
The 27 goals and 47 points last season underscore the potential in Anderson’s game, so it wouldn’t be any less than the first-round pick and top prospect package that the Lightning just surrendered for a similar grit forward-type in Blake Coleman. The equivalent package from the Bruins would be a first-round pick and defenseman prospect Urho Vaakanainen, and that’s a pretty hefty price tag indeed.
There will be other forwards like Tyler Toffoli, Ilya Kovalchuk and Sam Bennett who the Bruins may be able to pursue ahead of the deadline, but there isn’t anybody else quite like Anderson available on the trade market. Anderson is a Bruins-type player with the ferocious way he plays and he’d fill multiple needs for the based on both his power game and his potential as a top-6 pick-up for the B’s.
Now it’s about the waiting game for the Bruins to see if Anderson returns to the Columbus lineup this week and shows the Bruins and everybody else around the NHL that he can help them for the rest of this season.