By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26
With the NHL trade deadline one month away on March 21st, trade talks throughout the league have started to surface as teams prepare for deep runs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in May. Throughout the 2021-22 season, the Boston Bruins have seemed to be a middle-of-the-pack team competing for a wild card spot in the playoffs. While they have some quality assets to make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there are undoubtedly multiple gaping holes in the lineup that the Bruins will need to fill.
The Bruins are slotted in the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 60 points. The young and upcoming Detroit Red Wings are trailing Boston by eight points for the final wild-card spot, but the Bruins have two games at hand on the Red Wings.
Lately, every deadline for the Bruins has seemed to be a crucial one because of their aging core. This year, many Bruins fans have been on the fence about Boston management going “all in” at the tread deadline and making a big move to improve their roster. Regardless of the fans’ opinions, Don Sweeney and the rest of management will be in the conversation to land a couple of pieces come next month.
Bruins’ trade pieces
The Bruins have a couple of intriguing trade assets, but their prospect pool has been regarded lately in the lower tier of the NHL. Most sellers at the deadline will be looking for young and promising prospects in return for elite players.
The Bruins’ have two prospects in their system that will likely draw a lot of attention, including forward Fabian Lysell (WHL, Vancouver Giants) and defenseman Mason Lohrei (NCAA, Ohio State University). These two are viewed to have high-end ceilings and excellent offensive capability. Both players aren’t NHL ready but would add some quality value to a package deal for a roster player.
Current roster players for the Bruins that are rumored to be on Boston’s trading block include Jake DeBrusk, Jack Studnicka, Oskar Steen, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakub Zbroil. Jake DeBrusk has been involved in trade rumors throughout this season but has yet to be dealt after his agent made it public back in November that he requested a trade.
Regarding Studnicka, Steen, Vaakanainen, and Zbroil, they’ve all gotten their chance this year to showcase their skill set playing up in the NHL. These four players wouldn’t move the needle that much to bring in what the Bruins need to solidify their roster but would add some value to a deal.
If the Bruins are looking to land a significant piece, they would have to include a first-round draft pick. Including a first-round draft pick in a trade is quite controversial, considering the Bruins would be moving one or both of their best prospects in their already diminishing prospect pool.
The Bruins have had evident issues defensively throughout this season, which is why it may become their priority to improve their backend in March. The Bruins defense has not only had struggles in their own zone, but they haven’t contributed much offensively this season either. Before Saturday night’s matchup against the Ottawa Senators, 21.9% of the Bruins collective team points have been recorded by defensemen. This was the second-lowest percentage throughout the NHL.
Charlie McAvoy leads the defense in scoring with 28 points (7 G, 21 A) through the Bruins’ first 49 games. After him, production starts to tail off with Matt Grzelcyk having 16 points (2 G, 14 A) and Mike Reilly with 13 (4 G, 9 A).
The Bruins will need to acquire a top-four defenseman who can contribute in all three zones. Some notable names on the market include; Jakob Chychrun (3 years x $4.6 M), John Klingberg (1-year x $4.25 M), Nick Leddy (1-year x $5.5 M), Ben Chiarot (1-year x $3.5 M), Jeff Petry (3 years x $5.5 M), and Mark Giordano (1-year x $6.75 M).
In terms of the Bruins forward group, the Bruins have needed a second-line center since the departure of David Krejci last offseason. Erik Haula has since taken his spot as the second-line center and played well next to Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. While his production has somewhat declined since the all-star break, he has been serviceable with 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists). The Bruins have had their eye on Tomas Hertl (1-year x $5.625 M) and JT Miller (2 years x $5.25 M) for much of the season, but there is a chance that both these players stay with their clubs heading into the offseason.
If they choose not to add a center, they may add a right-winger to either play on the first or second line. A name that seems to be circulating the Bruins has been Vancouver Canucks forward Connor Garland (5 years x $4.95 M). The shifty forward has 29 points (13 G, 16 A) in 46 games for the struggling Canucks and may fit well within the top-six for Boston.
Every year, it seems the Bruins are on the hunt to add more scoring depth due to their lack of 5-on-5 finishing capabilities. Boston this year is ranked 21st in goals for during 5-on-5 play with 139 tallies.
Ultimately, the Bruins have minimal cap space ($3.83 M) and assets to trade for a high-end player, so management will have to be creative and evaluate whether they want or can acquire a top-four defenseman or top-six forward.
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