(Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)

By: Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitterย @TCalauttis

The rumor mill is spinning, and the trade winds swell as we barrel toward Friday’s NHL Trade Deadline. It’s no secret that the Boston Bruins would like to upgrade their forward group (ask Cam Neely), and plenty of options are available for General Manager Don Sweeney. Will he go after a top-six scorer, middle-six depth piece, or bottom-six enforcer? We may not know what he has in mind, but here are some options he may be considering.

Jake Guentzel

Age: 29

Stats: 50 Games, 22 Goals, 30 Assists, 52 points

Contract: $6 Million x 1 Year

This option is the pipe dream of all pipe dreams. The penguins are evil and must start turning their eyes towards the future, not the past. With his contract set to expire and a significant payday on the horizon, Jake Guentzel is ripe for trading. The 29-year-old has seven straight seasons of 20 goals and was a crucial cog in the team’s 2017 Stanley Cup run. In any other season the Bruins would be all in on Jake Guentzel.

The problem is they don’t have the assets to acquire him (or aren’t willing to part with the assets necessary to acquire him). Pittsburgh is asking for two first-round picks in addition to prospects, so Boston may already be priced out on the Nebraska native. But, and this is huge if the Bruins wanted to bankrupt the cupboard entirely and go all in on this season, Guentzel would be the guy. I know it probably won’t happen, but it’s nice to dream.

Vladimir Tarasenko

Age: 31

Stats: 57 Games, 17 Goals, 24 Assists, 41 points

Contract: $5 Million x 1 Year

I wrote about Tarasenko earlier this year and how he could be someone the Bruins show interest in because he is a bona fide goal scorer. In 8 NHL seasons (not including his rookie year and the two years he missed significant time due to injury), Tarasenko has only scored less than 30 goals twice. He has 17 this season for an Ottawa team, which is an absolute mess, proving he can find the back of the net wherever he plays.

Tarasenko will most likely be a consolation prize for a team that fails to land Guentzel, but that doesn’t mean he’s unavailable. The lack of term on his deal and the cap crunch around the league (including the Senators) means Tarasenko’s value might plummet due to cap complications. It wouldn’t be easy for Don Sweeney and company, but Tarasenko is one of the few sure bets on this market that can upgrade his team’s scoring.

Anthony Duclair

Age: 28

Stats: 55 Games, 14 Goals, 9 Assists, 23 points

Contract: $3 Million x 1 Year

The San Jose Sharks are one of the few teams confirmed to be scouting the Boston Bruins, and that has to be due to Anthony Duclair’s availability. The winger has been somewhat inconsistent throughout his career, waxing and waning his goal totals between 31 (his career high) and 8 (in 58 games). This is the point in the list where you’re truly making a gamble if you sell an asset for a rental.

Undoubtedly, Duclair has talent and is a legitimate top-six scorer. But when your cupboard is as bare as Boston’s, you must seriously consider who you’re acquiring when making a move. Duclair is entering his prime and has put on an impressive showcase with 16 goals on a horrendous San Jose team, but the question you have to ask yourself is this: is he an upgrade over Jake DeBrusk? If Sweeney thinks he is, he should be cheaper to acquire than most forwards and probably won’t cost that much to extend. But this is a tough sell if the Bruins aren’t sold on him.

Jordan Eberle

Age: 33

Stats: 56 Games, 14 Goals, 21 Assists, 35 points

Contract: $5.5 Million x 1 Year

Jordan Eberle is another winger who has scored goals in the NHL. He has eight 20-goal seasons and has never scored less than 16 goals in a season. The former Oiler and Islander is an authentic talent who has an excellent shot and puts up insane metrics on the offensive side of the ice. Eberle would be a clear-cut upgrade over DeBrusk and would undoubtedly elevate the top of Boston’s roster.

Now for the bad news, he will be challenging to acquire. Seattle only has $1 million in cap space, so a third team will have to get involved if a deal were to be struck. When you factor in the player’s age, you wonder if the Bruins would be willing to extend him past this season, making him a pure rental. If Sweeney likes the player and they intend on making him a Bruin throughout his thirties you get the deal done, if not, they’ll have to pass.

Tyler Toffoli

Age: 31

Stats: 61 Games, 26 Goals, 18 Assists, 44 points

Contract: $4.25 Million x 1 Year

I’ve wanted Tyler Toffoli to be a Bruins for a long time now. There were rumors several years ago (while he was still in LA) that Boston had a trade in place for him, and it just never materialized. Eight years of 20+ goals, nine years of 44+ points, and a goal-scoring pedigree make Toffoli an intriguing piece for the Bruins to consider. But things get even more interesting when you consider what it would take to acquire him.

The New Jersey Devils have been a disappointment all season and have been mainly a team considered a goalie away. Internet speculation has run rampant that the Bruins could dangle Linus Ullmark and acquire Toffoli plus some additional assets in a deal. I’m still not sold on Sweeney’s willingness to deal with Ullmark, but if he were to do so, a package with Toffoli and several draft picks could help restock the draft cupboard and help your roster in the here and now.

Jason Zucker

Age: 32

Stats: 51 Games, 9 Goals, 16 Assists, 25 points

Contract: $5.3 Million x 1 Year

Jason Zucker has had quite an up-and-down career. After four straight 20-goal seasons from 2016-20, the current Arizona Coyote was traded to Pittsburgh and scored 17 goals in two consecutive seasons before returning to form in 2022-23 with 27 goals. He left the Penguins last season and is on pace to miss the 20-goal mark in Arizona. This said, Zucker could be a cost-effective scoring alternative that the Bruins can buy low on.

Arizona has plenty of cap space to retain some salary, and pairing Zucker with David Pastrnak or Brad Marchand may be just enticing enough to force Don Sweeney’s hand. He’s not at the top of the market, and I don’t see Arizona making a full-court press to sign him, so they’ll be willing to ship him out the door for whatever they can get. He is not a significant upgrade, but he adds depth and experience to a team that could use all the help they can get.

Dominik Kubalik

Age: 28

Stats: 55 Games, 9 Goals, 4 Assists, 13 points

Contract: $2.5 Million x 1 Year

Who didn’t love shopping at Building 19 back in the day? You’d walk in there, spend $20, and come out with a haul fit for a king. Kubalik is a Building 19 option for the Boston Bruins. The 28-year-old has a miserable season after four straight campaigns of 15+ goals and 30+ points. He has eclipsed the 20-goal mark twice and even hit 30 in his rookie season. He won’t sell jerseys, but he’ll give you scoring depth for next to nothing.

If Boston acquires Kubalik, it could be one of those win-win scenarios. He won’t cost much, will slot into the middle six, and will either excel or fall short of expectations. If he goes on a hot streak and Sweeney wants to extend him, you know he’ll come cheap. If he doesn’t contribute, he walks, and you don’t lose much collateral. If Boston misses out on the big fish, Building 19 may be their next stop.

Yakov Trenin

Age: 27

Stats: 59 Games, 10 Goals, 4 Assists, 14 points

Contract: $1.7 Million x 1 Year

Now we get to the forwards, who won’t provide much scoring but will help change the Boston Bruins’ identity. Trenin is a 6-foot, 2-inch bruiser from Nashville who excels on the forecheck and isn’t shy about body contact. Trenin would add a much-needed physical presence on the front end and help Boston’s underwhelming forecheck. He’s also a bottom-six forward who can chip in on offense (10+ goals each of the last three seasons) and set a tone for a team primarily devoid of demanding customers.

Like most enforcers, Trenin probably won’t cost that much to acquire, and if the team likes his game, he’s someone they could extend going forward. He would slot in nicely on Jesper Boqvist’s wing, providing an upgrade over either Jakub Lauko or Justin Brazeau and adding some much-needed oomph to the forward group.

Brandon Duhaime

Age: 26

Stats: 62 Games, 4 Goals, 4 Assists, 8 points

Contract: $1.1 Million x 1 Year

Duhaime is just a straight-up tough customer. He has no fear of challenging anyone in the league and will drop the gloves whenever he has the chance. He doesn’t have the athleticism or skating ability of Trenin, but he’ll get under the opponents’ skin, punish defensemen on the forecheck, and ensure that opponents who infringe on Boston’s crease pay the price.

Again, we’re looking at someone who probably won’t cost much to acquire, so this would be a relatively simple move for Don Sweeney to make as long as more teams don’t drive up the price. Duhaime lacks talent like other enforcers around the league, so he’s the perfect mix of grit and sand-paper for this lineup.

Liam O’Brien

Age: 29

Stats: 54 Games, 3 Goals, 6 Assists, 9 points

Contract: $.8 Million x 1 Year

Liam O’Brien has over 100 penalty minutes in the last three seasons, something you don’t usually see from an NHLer today. O’Brien is an enforcer in every sense of the word, willing to challenge anyone who crosses him and able to get under the skin of players around the league. Another fourth-line upgrade, O’Brien would add the kind of snarl and snare that’s become almost a prerequisite for postseason success.

Arizona has oodles of cap space and bigger fish to trade, so acquiring O’Brien wouldn’t be too difficult for Don Sweeney. Bruins fans saw him jump Trent Frederic and go after David Pastrnak earlier this season, and that type of screw-you attitude is precisely what the team needs as they head down the stretch. He isn’t going to score goals, but he’ll make life a nightmare for opposing players.