By: Dan Anderson| Follow me on Twitter @DanAnderson5970
Speculation lately has the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks as the leading candidates to acquire defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. From my perspective, if this is true, I think it is in the best interests of the Boston Bruins that Vancouver makes the trade. Ekman-Larsson is twenty-nine years old and under contract at $8.25M through 2026-27, at which point he will be thirty-six years old. I see years at the end of the term of “dead weight” contract; he’ll be well past his prime. Who else could the Bruins target in a trade from Arizona?
It is highly unlikely the Bruins could get Arizona to part with a pair of twenty-two-year-olds in defenseman Jakob Chychrun or forward Clayton Keller. The best option currently on the Arizona roster could be a run at Taylor Hall in free agency to add a top-six forward, as discussed by colleague Andrew Taverna (@AndrewTaverna) last month. Taylor is a twenty-eight-year-old unrestricted free agent as of October 9th and a former overall number one draft pick. Signing Hall means that the Bruins would have to move Jake DeBrusk down to playing on the third line or use him as an asset for acquiring someone or something else as Hall plays left wing. As for trade targets, I see potential Bruins interest in two players: Niklas Hjalmarsson on defense and old friend Phil Kessel at forward. Both candidates have restrictive contracts; Hjalmarsson has a no-movement clause, and Kessel’s deal call for an eight-team trade list on a modified no-trade contract. Let’s assume for the moment that both would accept a trade to Boston.
Taylor Hall will not be re-signing with the Coyotes and will be an unrestricted free agent this Friday.https://t.co/1T3EUsPG2P— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) October 8, 2020
What Kessel has brought to all four NHL teams he has played for is goal scoring. He’s a perennial twenty-five to forty goal scorer. The thought of having him back in a Bruins uniform to play right wing with David Krejci is quite enticing. Phil has two years remaining at $6.8 million per season. With the Coyotes short draft picks and cap space, moving Kessel at age thirty-three might make sense. I could see a possible Ondrej Kase for Kessel trade forming. From the Bruins standpoint, they get a short term solution to the right-wing problem they have had for years, although it doesn’t address defensive needs and leaves less flexibility against the cap in signing other players.
Hjalmarsson is another veteran player who could fill the gap on left defense until younger players are NHL ready. He’d be an expensive option at $5 million per season but is a steady defensive defenseman. A package including a prospect or two, potentially a draft pick next year, might be enough to pry Hjalmarsson from Arizona. It’s been reported that Hjalmarsson won’t waive his no-movement clause, unfortunately. Might he change his mind for another shot at the Stanley Cup after having been a part of three winners in Chicago in 2010, 2013, and 2015? Perhaps he would and would affect the Bruins salary cap for one year only. These are the types of moves the Bruins must consider if they are serious about making another run or two at the championship with their current core players.
Seems like Arizona is waiting for Boston to make its move on OEL, but the Bruins don’t like the asking price. Meanwhile, Vancouver remains an option with tomorrow’s deadline looming.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 8, 2020
There has also been some speculation about the Bruins acquiring goaltender Darcy Kuemper if Tuukka Rask is moved. While I think that Rask might not be well suited to the pressure of playing in Boston and might have alienated teammates by leaving the playoff bubble this summer, he’s still their best option in goal by far, and Kuemper is not a goalie who could replace him. If the Bruins are all in to win now, they have to get back an elite goaltender to become their number one option to replace Tuukka assuming they trade him.