By: Benjamin Aliber | Follow me on Twitter @baliber24
The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline is only 50 days away, and the Boston Bruins continue to steamroll everything in their path. They sit atop the NHL with a record of 32-4-4, are on a four-game win streak, and recorded at least one point in 14 straight contests dating back to December 9, 2022, after a loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Heading into tonights game against the Seattle Kraken, Boston has a +69 goal differential. With contribution night in and night out from nearly every player on the roster, there are not many weaknesses within this Bruins squad. The trade deadline, however, can make or break a team’s chances when it comes to the playoffs.
Year after year, teams contending for “Lord Stanley” go all in to prepare themselves for a deep playoff run. Boston did exactly that in 2019 with their acquisitions of Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, Steven Kampfer, and Paul Carey. So, what allows teams to do this sort of thing…cap space! Unfortunately, that is what troubles the Bruins this year, along with many other contending teams.
Currently, the Boston Bruins possess $3,250,000 worth of cap space. This went up from just under $900,000 after Jake DeBrusk was put on LTIR (Long Time Injured Reserved) after fracturing his fibula during the Winter Classic ten days ago. So where does that leave the team option-wise? Well, the Bruins could part with assets from the draft pick department, but considering they have not had a pick in the first round for the last few years and are without a second-round pick until 2025, who can they realistically get for a third-round pick and someone such as Mike Reilly who is a bottom-six defenseman?
Boston has been linked to Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks recently, but the one issue facing their pursuit is what they can offer. Patrick Kane is still considered a top-25 player in the league and would add tremendous depth to any team he is sent to. However, at 34 years old with a $10.5 million cap hit, the Blackhawks could only retain up to 50% per league rules.
Another option would be the Captain of the Vancouver Canucks, Bo Horvat. Horvat possesses a $5.5 million contract which, similarly to Kane, expires this year. If Vancouver retained half of that, it would leave Boston, covering the final $2.75 million. Even then, they would need to get rid of an extra $2 million to make it work.
Here is the ultra-dilemma the Bruins’ front office is facing, though. What about next year? If you can trade for a center like Bo Horvat, with Krejci and Bergeron most likely to retire at the end of this season, you want to keep him for the foreseeable future, as Boston did with Hampus Lindholm just last year. Next season, Boston will have $26,587,500 of cap space.
The issue is you have 27 contracts expiring, and David Pastrnak is due for a hefty payday. Pastrnak has 58 points in 40 games played and scored in 25 of those 40 games. Jeremy Swayman is also due for a pay raise from his current $925,000 AAV.
Many fans are asking if Pastrnak is not resigned before the trade deadline, do you get something for him now instead of potentially nothing like the Torey Krug scenario, or play the long game? Either way, the time for management to make a splash is running out, and with a 2023 trade deadline filled with a star-studded cast such as the one in front of us, it will be interesting to see what this team can do with what little assets they have to offer.