By: Ray Guarino | Follow Me On Twitter @rayguarino
With the April 12 NHL trade deadline less than a week away, Don Sweeney and Boston Bruins management are determining the best course of action to proceed with this season while balancing the long-term needs of the hockey club. The Bruins are currently in fourth place in the East Division with 46 points in 36 games. Ahead of the Bruins are the Pittsburgh Penguins with 50 points, but the Penguins have played three more games than the Bruins. Below the Bruins, there is a tie with the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, who have identical records at 41 points in 38 games.
Elliotte Friedman, in his most recent 31 Thoughts column, reported that the Bruins may be out of the rental market and are looking for players with term left on their contract. With the uncertainty surrounding goaltender Tuukka Rask’s injury and the inconsistency by the younger players throughout the lineup, giving up assets for rentals is not the prudent way to go.
According to Capfriendly.com, the Bruins have approximately $5.7M in deadline cap space. The Bruins also have a couple of avenues to create more space if they need it. They can move injured defenseman John Moore’s $2,750,000 to LTIR to create more room, or if they’re confident that goaltender Dan Vladar can effectively back up Rask, then they can try to move Jaroslav Halak and his $2,250,000 contract.
Below we’ll look at three players with term, rumored to be available, that the Bruins may be interested in:
Anthony Mantha-Detroit Red Wings RW/LW
Mantha was a first-round pick by the Red Wings in the 2013 draft. The Longueuil, Quebec native dominated the QMJHL amassing 120 points in 57 games during the 2013-14 season. Mantha has three more years remaining on his contract after this year at a cap hit of $5.7M per year. Mantha brings impressive size (6’5″ 234lbs) to the wing that can create a host of problems for opposing defensemen and goaltenders.
In 300 NHL games, Mantha has produced 94-99-193 totals. On an 82 game slate that averages out to be 26-27-53. For this current season, Mantha sits at 10-10-20 over 40 games. He would be an instant upgrade to either the Bruins right side or left. The Bruins could slot him with David Krejci if Bruce Cassidy decides to put David Pastrnak back on the Bruins top tine with Patrice Bergeron. Or, Mantha can slide to Charlie Coyle’s right on the third line. The Bruins right side can be set for the next few years with Pastrnak, Mantha, and Craig Smith.
What would the cost be for Mantha? Detroit has made 33 picks, which includes four first-rounders, in the last three drafts. The 33 picks represent the most, by far, in the NHL. Detroit will likely be looking for young, NHL-ready players in return for Mantha.
Johnny Gaudreau-Calgary Flames LW
Gaudreau was originally a fourth-round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2011 draft. After three years at Boston College, Gaudreau exploded on the scene in 2014-15 with 24-40-64 in 80 games. As a rookie, Gaudreau played in the NHL All-Star Game and was a finalist for the Caldor Memorial Trophy given to the NHL’s best rookie. For his career, Gaudreau has accumulated 445 points in 464 games, including 36-63-99 totals in the 2018-19 season.
Expectations were high in Calgary going into this season with the signing of goaltender Jacob Markstrom to a six-year $36M contract. Unfortunately, the season fell off the rails early, and on March 5th, old friend Geoff Ward was fired, and Darryl Sutter was hired to replace him. Sutter, Calgary’s fourth head coach in the last five years, was the Flames coach from 2002-2006 and their GM from 2003-2010.
Sutter and Gaudreau clashed immediately, and the Flames have fallen further out of the playoff picture since the coaching change. Rumors are swirling that between now and the start of next season, big changes are coming for the Flames. The 27-year-old Gaudreau has one more year left on his contract at $6.75 million before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Dustin Brown-Los Angeles Kings RW
The long-time RW for the Kings has had a career revival over the last 3 seasons. This year he sits at 15-7-22 totals in 35 games. Over an 82 game season, that would put Brown at 35-16-50 totals. Additionally, over the last three seasons, Brown’s prorated totals over 82 games comes in at an impressive 25-25-50. He could play with either Krejci or Coyle and would form a strong right side with Pastrnak and Smith.
The Kings have one of the best prospect pools in all of the NHL. Where they lack is young NHL-ready defensemen. Something the Bruins can offer up in a package. Brown has one more year left on his contract at a cap hit of $5,875,000, but only $4,000,000 of that is actual salary. If the Bruins are working on an internal cap, there is a decent savings opportunity here.
The Bruins could do a lot worse than bringing in Brown, a two-time Stanley Cup winner that still produces. Ultimately, the question becomes, do the Kings actually want to trade him?
What direction the Bruins go in between now and the beginning of next season will go a long way in determining what the future will hold for them. Do they sit out this deadline in an attempt to regroup and retool this offseason? Do they make a run at the cup by utilizing their assets to bring in players that will help them this year as well as next year? One thing I’m confident about is giving up assets for rentals would be a mistake.
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