By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
TSN Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli released another edition of his TSN Trade Bait Lists yesterday. The main thing that caught my eye on that list was the presence of four former Bruins – Phil Kessel (no. 6), Ryan Donato (no. 11), Johnny Boychuk (no. 13), Dougie Hamilton (no. 30). It got me thinking, what are the chances any of them come back?
The biggest name on the list is definitely Kessel. The former Bruins first-round pick has been traded three times so far in his NHL career. The main thing that stings when looking at him as a Bruin next season is the cap hit. His $8 million cap hit for the next two seasons is pretty rich, but could be manageable if salary were retained.
Last season’s 14 goal, 38 point marked his worst offensive season since the 2007-2008 season, and his goal scoring output has decreased following his massive 34 goal outburst two seasons ago. I think it’s reasonable to expect him to get back into the mid-20’s to 30’s range if he were to return to Boston.
A major impetus could be the presence of a modified no-trade and no-move clause in his current contract. When it all comes down to it, I don’t see Phil the thrill returning to Boston ever again. A deal seems like it would be too difficult for Don Sweeney’s liking, especially considering the other options out there.
Traded two seasons ago to Minnesota, Donato has had a tough time making a name for himself. For that reason, it’s not surprising to see him on the trade bait list. The skill and potential is there, so with the right opportunity, deployment, and linemates, he could become an effective everyday NHL player. Boston isn’t in a position to take gambles at this point though. If Donato is traded, it will be elsewhere. This video feels like forever ago.
If there’s a reunion to be had, I think it’s with Boychuk, believe it or not. I’m sure everyone on Twitter will react in a civilized manner to this. While his play has declined over the years, there is a potential fit here for him. A depth defenseman swap. Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello will almost definitely have to retain a good chunk of salary to facilitate a trade.
Boychuk, 36, at 50 percent retained for John Moore. The Islanders save $250k in the deal, while the Bruins have one less year of control on Boychuk than they would with Moore. Retaining 50 percent of $6 million annually isn’t a terribly unreasonable ask for two more years, in my opinion. I don’t think getting him to waive his modified no-trade clause would be a problem.
No matter what you think about his playing ability at this point in his career, there’s no doubt about his willingness to block shots, lay the body, and send the occasional Johnny Rocket at the opposing goalie. The Moore experiment hasn’t quite worked out. This trade gives both players a fresh start and Boychuk a chance to win a cup with his former team, although the Islanders look like future cup contenders as well.
Noel Acciari is gone, so the number 55 is just waiting to be reclaimed. Do I think this trade is incredibly likely? No. But it’s certainly possible. Boychuk was a fan favorite, he likely wouldn’t be in the lineup every night, and could provide solid veteran depth.
Dougie Hamilton was probably the most interesting former Bruins name on the list. The 2011 Bruins first-round pick is in line for a sizable raise from the $5.75 million he currently makes as an unrestricted free-agent if he has another great season. A trade would mark the third trade of his NHL career.
I think the money he is in line for would scare Sweeney off here. The presence of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Connor Clifton, and Jeremy Lauzon, all capable of playing the right side, lessens the need for such a move. The asking price would rightfully be substantial as well, as Hamilton received 17 2020 Norris trophy votes in the third to fifth place range. Bruins Twitter would burn straight to the ground if Hamilton were reacquired.
Whether any Bruins offseason moves will involve any of these players is to be determined. But each of them trade value on the market in varying degrees and for different reasons. Time will tell where they play next season.