By: Dan Anderson | Follow Me On Twitter @DanAnderson5970
At the beginning of the 2019-2020 NHL playoffs, I considered the Colorado Avalanche the favorite to come out of the western conference. Lead by star players Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, it appeared the former Quebec Nordiques might be the Boston Bruins’ opponent if the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup finals. After a disappointing playoff for both teams, might there be a trade in the works between these two?
General Manager Joe Sakic, a former Nordiques and Avalanche star himself, currently has double the cap space that the Bruins have. However, restricted free agents Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin, plus unrestricted free agent Vladislav Namestnikov all need new contracts. A new deal to retain the rights to Vladislav Kamenev, who signed to play for two years with SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL on September 1, 2020, will consume a small portion of this money. The Avalanche have a total of six restricted free agents and five unrestricted free agents to consider, and that’s without signing someone from another organization.
Who might the Bruins target in a potential trade? MacKinnon, Landeskog, and defenseman Erik Johnson all have no-trade or no-movement clauses in their contracts. Bruins fans would be in an uproar if they acquired Nazem Kadri, but he too has a similar clause in his contract. I see one of two possible scenarios for the Bruins and Avalanche to make a deal. Colorado has both Johnson and rookie of the year Cale Makar at right defense. They also have depth at left defense. Nikita Zadorov has been the subject of trade rumors, plays the left side, and is a 6’5” 235-pound defensive defenseman.
If the Bruins could offer some combination of prospects or draft picks, perhaps they might be able to pry Zadorov away. Defensive pairings for the Bruins become Zadorov-McAvoy, Grzelcyk-Carlo, and Chara-Lauzon/Clifton. I would go with Clifton for more offense in this case. The second scenario would likely make more headlines. The Bruins could potentially clear salary-cap space and get a younger starting goaltender by trading Tuukka Rask for Philipp Grubauer in a deal that could perhaps include Zadorov as well. Tuukka’s modified no-trade clause includes fifteen teams he could be sent to; if Colorado is on the list, this transaction has potential.
I think Rask is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. He’s very good at playing his angles so that he is in a position to make the save rather than having to make a spectacular play. His career numbers speak to him being a quality goaltender. There is a large contingent of Bruins fans, however, who believe that Rask cannot win the big game or that he doesn’t have the will to even play in them. While I understand he left the “bubble” during the NHL playoffs because his daughter was sick, most fans are less forgiving. There is no doubt the Bruins would have had a better chance to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning with him in net instead of Jaroslav Halak. Has Rask worn out his welcome in Boston?
From the Colorado perspective, upgrading their goaltending might be the direction to go to improve their chances for next season. With the number of available quality goaltenders available this offseason, including Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Murray, Jacob Markstrom, and Braden Holtby, I think it is unlikely that this trade will happen. In other possible Colorado to Boston moves, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bruins take a look at Colin Wilson or Matt Nieto, both of whom played for Jack Parker at Boston University and are unrestricted free agents. Wilson, son of former Hartford Whaler and Calgary Flame Carey Wilson, is the more likely candidate as he came into the league as a first-round pick with power forward potential; he’s 6’1, 221-pounds.