The Bruins are finally back in Boston after a brutal four-game west coast swing, where they dropped the first three games of the trip, getting outscored 12-4 in those games before drawing two points out of a 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes.
One-third of the way through the 2014-15 season, the Bruins have fallen well behind Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Montreal in the Atlantic Division, and have to do some serious catching up to the teams in front of them. General manager Peter Chiarelli may have to look outside the organization for part of the solution to their inconsistent offense. Here’s a look at some possible targets the team could look into dealing for.
Note: All salary cap numbers via CapGeek.com
Chris Stewart (RW, Buffalo Sabres)
The most talked about name when it comes to Bruins trade rumors, Chris Stewart is widely believed to be available, with the Sabres looking for the right trading partner. Peter Chiarelli caught a game at the First Niagara Center while the Bruins were out on the West Coast, and has shown interest in the right wing, who has had a down year with just three goals and an assist, but has tallied at least 15 goals every year since his sophomore year in 2009-10.
With a contract set to expire at the conclusion of this season, Stewart could be a cost-effective rental option for the Bruins this season and could give their stagnant offense a boost.
Jordan Eberle (RW, Edmonton Oilers)
One name that has come up in possible trade rumors is that of young Oilers forward Jordan Eberle. The 24-year-old has six goals and 12 assists in 27 games for Edmonton this year, but the Oilers are struggling and may be looking to deal.
The cost of Eberle, however, would be high for the Bruins. A name that has come up in speculation is goaltender Malcolm Subban, the Bruins’ first-round draft pick in 2012, who has played well for the Providence Bruins in one-plus seasons in the AHL, and a trade with the Oilers would require more pieces – perhaps Loui Eriksson – as well. But the Bruins have reigning Vezina Trophy-winner Tuukka Rask locked up through 2020-21, so the Bruins can afford to deal their prospect goalie for a scorer who has averaged just under a point per game in 302 NHL contests.
Patrik Berglund (C, St. Louis Blues)
A 26-year-old center who can also play wing, Berglund has netted just three goals and four assists for the Blues this season, but has tallied 14+ goals each of the past four seasons, and is reportedly on the trading block.
Peter Chiarelli scouted a Blues-Blackhawks game while the Bruins were out west, while asst. GM Don Sweeney also attended a Blues game last week, so the interest is there with St. Louis, but it remains to be seen whether it is with Berglund or another Blue. Berglund is under contract through 2016-17, with a cap hit of $3.7 million per year, a manageable number for a Bruins team that will be up against the cap.
Dustin Byfuglien (RW/D, Winnipeg Jets)
A bruising, right-handed shooter with a knack for scoring, Byfuglien has scored seven goals and eight assists this season for Winnipeg. While mostly playing defense with the Jets, Byfuglien can also play right wing, as he did while helping the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 2010, giving the Bruins options of where to slot the 29-year-old.
Byfuglien would be a tough financial add for the Bruins, however, as he is under contract through next season with an annual cap hit of $5.2 million, which may be more than the Bruins can take on for one player right now.
T.J. Oshie (RW, St. Louis Blues)
This would be a stretch, but the 27-year-old who became a star for his shootout heroics for Team USA in the Olympics in February would be a great fit to fill the hole in the Bruins’ top line. A skilled forward who can score with the best of them, Oshie would thrive on the right side of David Krejci and Milan Lucic, giving them the true scorer they have lacked this year since Jarome Iginla left in free agency.
Oshie is signed through the 2016-17 season with a cap hit of $4.175 million, not a huge hit considering the projected rise of the salary cap and the ability that Oshie brings to the table.