(Photo Credit: Julio Cortez/AP)

By: Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis

The calendar has flipped over to June, and summer is officially here, which means the NHL rumor mill is beginning to heat up. While Bruins fans patiently wait for news on their team’s pending free agents, yet another big name has emerged in trade chatter. The question is whether or not Boston is ready, willing, and able to acquire him.

According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers is “…not interested in signing a contract extension with the club, and that is primarily why Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is exploring his options via the trade market.” The 28-year-old’s current contract with the Jets expires after next season, so it’s in the organization’s best interest to attempt to acquire him sooner rather than later.

Ehlers is coming off of a season where he skated in all 82 contests for the Winnipeg Jets, logging 25 goals, 36 assists, and 61 points. Over the course of his nine-year career (spent entirely in Winnipeg), the Danish native has been one of the league’s more consistent goal-scoring talents, logging seven seasons of 20-plus goals. Another impressive thing about Ehlers’ game is his ability to score five-on-five. Since coming into the league in 2015-16, Ehlers ranks 26th with 166 even-strength goals.

To round out his statistical profile, Ehlers has dished out at least 25 assists in seven of his nine seasons and produced over 40 points in six seasons. Much like his goal-scoring, the majority of that production has been at even strength, an area where the Boston Bruins have needed help for what seems like years.

A move for a player like Ehlers may have been a pipe dream several weeks ago, but given the team’s current situation with Jake DeBrusk, Don Sweeney may be forced to act. When the Bruins cleaned out their lockers following the Game Six loss to the Florida Panthers, DeBrusk commented on the ongoing contract negotiations, saying, “I thought (a new deal would) be done and things would all work out earlier.”

In his end-of-year press conference, Don Sweeney added more fuel to the fire when he was questioned about an extension for DeBrusk. Quotes like “Negotiation is a two-way street” and “We took an aggressive position with Jake,” coupled with the current-lack of a deal, make it all the more obvious that DeBrusk plans to at least test the waters in free agency.

If DeBrusk departs, Boston will have another hole in its top-six forward group, and the corps will already be missing a top-of-the-line center. If Sweeney’s hand is forced, Ehlers may be a suitable replacement and even a slight upgrade for the Black and Gold.

Even if DeBrusk stays, acquiring a goal-scoring, top-six winger would do wonders for this Bruins’ roster. The team’s lack of scoring punch and finishing ability ultimately sank them in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so remedying that with an established goal-scorer could do wonders for this roster.

The question, which has frequently arisen throughout this season, is whether the Boston Bruins have the assets to acquire Ehlers. Because teams need to renegotiate Ehlers following the upcoming season, he’s a longer-term rental. Factor in the fact that he has blatantly told Winnipeg he wants out, and he’s already put the Jets in an unfavorable bargaining position. That said, it will likely take a higher-end draft pick, a prospect, or an established rostered player to complete a trade.

Anything is possible at this time of year, and Don Sweeney has made a career out of making deals that nobody saw coming. If Ehlers truly wants out and Winnipeg tries to deal him, perhaps he’ll find himself in a spoked-B.