The Bruins made a preemptive move to shore up their defensemen depth nearly a week ahead of the NHL trade deadline, but Don Sweeney isn’t done dealing yet. The B’s are still in the market for a big, experienced winger capable of potentially filling a top-six role and somebody who can also bring more of a size/strength dimension to a group of wingers that are pretty young and pretty undersized outside of David Backes.
The Bruins have expressed interest in Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon and New York’s Rick Nash, and it’s expected that Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner are on their radar as well before the Feb. 26 deadline. While the Bruins might have to give up a decent prospect for a premier rental in Nash, it's not expected that the others will cost the Bruins either an "A" prospect or a top draft pick.
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It’s also expected that the Bruins aren’t going to be very active in potential trade markets for D-men Ryan McDonagh or Nik Hjalmarsson over the next week after shipping Rob O’Gara and a 2018 third-round pick to the New York Rangers for 30-year-old defenseman Nick Holden.
Sweeney wasn’t tipping his hand much after the Holden deal, but indicated that the Bruins are still burning up the phone lines looking for the right moves to support Boston’s playoff run.
"We’re going to continue to look at the marketplace and see where guys may fit in, who’s available, continue the calls that happen a lot more frequently this time of year and see where it goes,” Sweeney said to reporters in Edmonton. “Our club has played well, but we’ve got a long way to go."
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One other thing that the Bruins are clearly trying to do: Move the Matt Beleskey contract if at all possible after burying him in the AHL earlier this season. Hockey sources have indicated to NBCSportsBoston.com that the Bruins talked with the San Jose Sharks about Beleskey and that presumably it would have been in a deal where the B’s would have taken on the rest of Paul Martin’s similarly cap-unfriendly contract.
With the Bruins doing the Holden deal, that should eliminate Martin as a potential player of interest for the Black and Gold.
The Athletic’s Craig Custance reported on Tuesday that the Bruins and Red Wings had preliminary talks about Detroit energy forward Darren Helm. Those discussions are also believed to have been about trying to move Beleskey for a similar contract around the NHL. While there is very clearly a robust market of big, experienced top-six wingers for the Bruins to choose from, it’s going to be a much stiffer challenge for Sweeney to find somebody, anybody willing to take on a Beleskey contract that still has two years at a shade under $4 million per season left on it.