By: Dan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @DanAnderson5970
It certainly wouldn’t take a tremendous change in jersey color for a player to switch from being a Boston Bruin to a Pittsburgh Penguin or vice versa. Do General Managers Don Sweeney and Jim Rutherford have the assets to make a trade that benefits both teams? The Bruins are trying to add pieces to win another Stanley Cup, while the Penguins have been in a bit of turmoil since their playoff exit at the Montreal Canadiens’ hands.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are tied with the Edmonton Oilers for most Stanley Cups by a non-original six team at five; Pittsburgh won two during the Mario Lemieux era while Sydney Crosby led teams have won three. 2015-16 and 2016-17 saw the Penguins win the Cup back to back. However, after the playoffs were over this year, it became apparent that there were issues in the locker room. As this has been discussed for the past few years and led to the Phil Kessel trade to Arizona and talk of Evgeni Malkin being available, the news should come as no surprise to anyone. Jim Rutherford has been busy making changes, many of them questionable, such as bringing in defenseman Michael Matheson at $4.875 million until 2025-26.
Let’s get some obvious targets for the Bruins out of the way. Crosby and Malkin are not going to be wearing Boston jerseys. Both are older, both play center, a position of strength for the Bruins, and both make at least $8.7 million per year. Kasperi Kapanen could be a possibility for secondary scoring help, but the Bruins would need to trade Ondrej Kase to make that happen. Having scored over twenty goals in a season and being just twenty-four years of age, I don’t see the Penguins wanting to trade him either. He was part of the Kessel trade to Pittsburgh from Toronto but was reacquired from Toronto this past summer in an exchange that involved the Penguins first-round draft pick. The Penguins think highly of Kasperi Kapanen.
With the acquisition of Craig Smith and already having Kase, I don’t think secondary scoring is the primary area of need for the Bruins. I still believe the Bruins would be best off bringing in another left defenseman. While Kris Letang gets all the attention in Pittsburgh, Brian Dumoulin quietly goes about doing his job. I have been impressed with his play since watching him as a freshman at Boston College. The Biddeford, Maine native likely grew up a Bruins fan and is the first player from Maine to win the Stanley Cup, having done so in 2016.
Dumoulin is a defensive defenseman who will likely not be around for the next Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh at age twenty-nine. At six feet, four inches tall, and weighing two hundred and seven pounds, he’d fit nicely playing with Charlie McAvoy. Dumoulin’s contract calls for $4.1 million through the 2022-23 season, a team-friendly deal. It’s clear why the Bruins would want him.
Why might the Penguins want to trade such a valuable player? Pittsburgh is pressed hard against the salary cap and is rebuilding. They also do not have a first, third, fourth, or sixth-round draft pick in the upcoming draft. The Bruins have left defensive prospects in Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, and Urho Vaakanainen that could interest the Penguins along with a full set of draft picks.
The Bruins likely will not be active in the trade market until the Jake DeBrusk situation is resolved either through signing or trade. Might the $4.1 million Dumoulin makes per year be enough to sign DeBrusk because he cannot be traded to Pittsburgh if not? I’m not sure the Bruins would be satisfied going into training camp with Anders Bjork as their second left-wing anyway, as much as I think the Penguins could use Jake. I don’t see DeBrusk being the contract moved in this situation; Ondrej Kase’s $2.6 million seems the more likely move.
The Bruins cannot currently make the trade without an experienced roster player heading to Pittsburgh. Kase would be the odd man out, but the Penguins already have Bryan Rust, Jason Zucker, and the previously mentioned Kasperi Kapanen at right-wing. I don’t think the Penguins would take John Moore’s $2.75 million contract along with preferably Zboril and a draft pick to make this trade happen. Unless something unique happens in the DeBrusk deal, I don’t see a viable trade option for Sweeney and Rutherford at this time.