By: Kevin O’Keefe | Follow me on Twitter @Kevin_OKeefe89
With the Stanley Cup now awarded, the post-season is in full swing and is expected to be the summer of blockbusters. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has many tough decisions ahead of him. Re-tooling the bottom-6 is up there on the to-do list, and Chris Wagner may be one of the forwards on the outs. According to a tweet by Dominic Tiano, Don Sweeney may be looking to move the Massachusetts- native out of town. “There are also whispers that they are trying to move hometown boy Chris Wagner.” Says Tiano.
This isn’t a surprise, as Wagner yet again had an abysmal season for the black and gold. In his first season with the Bruins, Wagner had a career year; since then, he has consistently been getting worse. Wagner spoke out about his anxiety issues this past season, which may have had a role to play in his worst season yet, but it’s hard to distinguish that as the root of the problem when the previous season was almost just as bad. Whatever the reason is for Wagner’s struggles, it seems like his time with the bruins may be coming to an end.
What would a trade for Wagner look like? First, we should go over his contract that would be moved. Wagner is on the books for 2 more years at a cap hit of $1.350 million. This is money that could be better spent elsewhere. As Tiano mentions, moving this contract isn’t a big deal and won’t be a burden on Boston’s cap if Wagner doesn’t play. “Don’t think this is a big deal. His contract can be buried with a cap hit of $275,000.” Nonetheless, it would still be better to move the contract than bury it.
Sweeney may be looking into using Wagner as part of a package for a big-ticket item. One player, the Bruins, have consistently been linked to is Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman- Larsson carries a hefty cap hit of $8.250 million over the next 6 years and hasn’t lived up to his contract as of late. In any deal involving Arizona’s captain, salary will probably be retained, and the coyotes must be willing to take back an unwanted contract. Could Wagner be one of those contracts?
Wagner could be packaged with another struggling Bruins winger as part of a deal to bring Ekman-Larsson to Boston. A package starting with Jake Debrusk and Chris Wagner would soften the blow of Ekman-Larsson’s cap hit. Adding in a draft pick and a prospect or two, while Arizona adds in Conor Garland, could create the blockbuster deal that would knock out two birds with one stone. Boston gets their elusive left-shot top-4 defenseman and a winger that can slot into your middle- 6, while Arizona gets to part ways with Ekman-Larsson and get back a young Jake Debrusk who may need a change of scenery to regain his 20-goal form.
If Wagner doesn’t get moved, I’m sure Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy would try to get Wagner back to form. When Wagner is playing hard in all zones, he’s a very tough player to go up against and is exactly the type of player the Bruins need on that fourth line to create energy for the rest of the line-up. Whether he stays or goes, Don Sweeney needs to re-create that line. Curtis Lazar and Trent Frederic is a great building block for that line, but will It be Wagner that rounds it out? We should have that answer soon.