Trade deadline day is a little over three weeks away, the Bruins are in the midst of their bye-week and the phone lines are busy around the league. As in just about every other year, the Bruins are always linked to multiple players, even when it doesn’t make sense whatsoever. But hey, it’s that time of year.
General Manager Don Sweeney has never been afraid to go after the big fish: Rick Nash, Taylor Hall, Hampus Lindholm. He, along with Evan Gold, always seem to figure out how to make the cap work. And this trade deadline will be the same. Where there is a will, there is a way. And Sweeney mikes to make his big move early if possible.
The Bruins may not get this close to an “all in season” for a few years so, you can bet your bottom dollar that Sweeney will do something to try to put his players over the top. Before we look at some the targets they are being linked too, let’s take a look at the assets they have to make those deals.
First round pick in 2023
Draft picks are like gold at this time of year. The Bruins lack a second-round pick for 2023 and 2024 (traded in the Lindholm deal) so the first rounder it is. That pick is looking to be between 24 and 28(one of the division leaders) and even 29-32 so it won’t be as good as some of the other first rounders thrown in a trade deal. But it’s very close to a second-round pick and will easily top any second round pick other teams can offer.
Lauko is the prospect probably most NHL ready and could step into someone’s lineup immediately. He’s not a player that a team would likely trade outright for, but he is one a team could ask for to retain salary or take salary back a.k.a a cap dump.
First round pick in 2024
Believe it or not, some teams may value this over the Bruins 2024 first rounder over the 2023 first rounder as there is a chance it would be a higher pick. It’s a gamble but one that a rival GM is surely to consider, especially if they already have multiple first round picks in 2023 such as Chicago, Vancouver, Montreal, and others that will join that group at trade deadline. Chicago has multiple firsts in 2024 as well.
There are teams that will be looking at goaltending depth. But are the Bruins really willing to part with Kinkaid? What if something were to happen to Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman? Has Brandon Bussi done enough for them to have the confidence in him?
The Bruins will likely do everything they can to not include Lysell in any deal. But it is an all-in year and no one is untouchable. If the return is a player with term, or a player they are absolutely sure they can lock up to an extension, then everything is on the table including Lysell. The Bruins owe it to the players on this squad to try and put them over the top.
Like Lysell, the Bruins will do everything possible to not include Lohrei. He is a future left shot defence staple. If you believe the Jakob Chychrun ties, then you have to believe that Lohrei would be part of a package heading to Arizona as the young future defenceman in the deal.
Like Lauko, McLaughlin is a young player who could slide right into a rebuilding team’s roster immediately. He’s shown he can play in the NHL now, but an acquiring team may be better served letting him finish the year in the AHL.
Don’t look now but teams are starting to see the value in the young playmaking center. When things were going badly for the Guelph Storm on the Ontario Hockey League, he picked up his team and carried them on his shoulders. He’s a couple of years away from the NHL and that has value to a rebuilding team.
Mike Reilly and Craig Smith
One or both will likely become a cap casualty. Alone, they have no value to a contender and the only value they have to a seller is that they will almost certainly come with another asset in order to take on their cap hit. That asset may come in the form of a prospect or a draft pick. And if a deal can be made early enough, a team could flip them again while retaining salary and gain another asset.
As I said earlier, the Bruins are being linked to a lot of players out there. That said, let’s take a look at some of the players being linked too:
The cost to acquire Chychrun is astronomical. Many fans don’t believe the Bruins have the assets to acquire him but I don’t buy into that. The question is: do you want to pay the piper? There is no question that acquiring Chychrun and adding him to Lindholm, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, would give the 70’s Montreal Canadiens blueline a run for their money. You would figure that if the Bruins were to acquire Chychrun, one of Matt Grzelcyk or Derek Forbort would be moved in separate deals. They are two very liked guys in the room so you’d have to take into consideration what affect that might have.
Toews holds all the cards with a full no movement clause. The Hawks have supplied him with a list of teams that have contacted him, but he has not yet made a decision. If there is one area the Bruins could look to strengthen it is the fourth line. Would Toews be open to that? You have to like the idea of a Toews – Patrice Bergeron tandem in the faceoff circle. You are pretty much guaranteed of starting with the puck 60 percent of the time with those two. Unless the Hawks are willing to take back salary and full retention on Toews cap hit, it’s going to require a third team to get this done.
Meier is a pending restricted free agent with arbitration rights and carries a $10 million qualifying offer and that is enough to scare every team away. However, Sharks GM Mike Grier has said that if they get an offer they like for Meier, they would grant that team permission to speak to Meier’s agent Claude Lemieux about an extension in advance. That extension would likely come in below the qualifying offer and this is exactly the type of deal Sweeney likes to pull off.
This is exactly the type of fourth line improvement the Bruins can acquire inexpensively, and with a cap hit of $1,125,000, can fit him under the cap without much to do. He can play center or wing, knows the Bruins room and most of the system the Bruins employ. And you could probably bring him back next year for less than they are paying Tomas Nosek.
The Blue Jackets defenceman has been unable to come to terms on a contract extension with the team and as a pending unrestricted free agent, the team wants to move him instead of losing him for nothing. They are looking for a first round pick in return and like the Sharks, the Blue Jackets are willing to allow a team to talk extension if they get a deal they like. With a $2,800,000 cap hit, the Bruins can make this work without doing too much but like Chychrun, they may want to move out a left shot defenceman if the Bruins can get him into the fold.
Obviously, there are many more players available. But those I listed would be a clear upgrade for the Bruins. And if Sweeney does pull off a big trade, he will also look to make some minor deals for depth.
The only question left to ask is: Does Sweeney have another big trade in him?
We will find out in short order.