Come 3 p.m. Monday, the National Hockey League will cease its trading operations for the remainder of the 2017-18 season. With a good mix of buyers and sellers, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has plenty of options to choose from.
Sweeney’s ideal targets include a top-six forward and added defensive depth. But the Bruins have a good thing going for them thanks to a healthy bond with their mix of youth and veterans and aren’t necessarily in dire need of changing things up following their hot four-month stretch.
Despite the strong drafting and developing that’s led to the heralded youth movement, Sweeney would still be wise to pursue potential upgrades. With that in mind, here’s a look at seven ideal trade deadline candidates.
Update: The Bruins have acquired Rick Nash from the Rangers.
OFFICIAL: #NYR have acquired a first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, defenseman Ryan Lindgren, forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey, and a seventh-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft from the Bruins in exchange for Rick Nash.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 25, 2018
Why he’d fit: The Bruins don’t have a veteran power forward presence outside of David Backes. Rick Nash would not only give the B’s a second power forward vet but provide a big presence on a line with David Krejci. The Czech centerman’s best postseason success came with Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic as linemates in their Stanley Cup win in 2011 and run to the final two years later.
Why he wouldn’t fit: Though he still has a good scoring touch, Nash’s production has been on the decline since notching a career-high 42 goals in 2014-15. Though he still brings a skilled, physical presence, Nash’s speed and agility is a step behind the talented B’s youth movement.
What it would cost: A mix of prospects and high round draft picks along with another young, NHL-ready player. The Bruins appear to be the frontrunner in the Nash sweepstakes but would need to make more corresponding moves to be cap compliant.
Why he’d fit: One of the biggest names available at the deadline, Kane certainly fits the bill as a top-six upgrade. Kane comes in with an expiring deal and has been solid for the lowly Sabres. The former Winnipeg winger brings a mix of skill and physicality. Even with the Bruins having one of their more skilled rosters in recent memory, adding another power forward wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Why he wouldn’t fit: Kane’s track record is a bit suspect. Both Bruce Cassidy and Cam Neely have gone on record in the last week about how much chemistry the team has and they have to wonder if a big trade would ruin some of that. Kane has had his fair share of issues both on and off the ice. Given his character, adding Kane comes with a risk. Is it a risk worth taking for Sweeney?
What it would cost: The demand for Kane is certainly high. With teams attempting to outbid each other, the cost for Kane should be through the roof. The Sabres need some help on the defensive side of things and Kane could be the piece that results in some blueline help. A young, NHL ready defensemen, a mid-tier prospect and a draft pick is a good package for starters.
Why he’d fit: Simply put, Mike Hoffman loves to shoot the puck. The Sens forward will easily surpass 200 shots on goal for the third straight season and would get plenty of looks on the power play while also adding skill to Boston’s top-six.
Why he wouldn’t fit: Hoffman can be a liability defensively. Though everyone is having a bit of a down year in Ottawa, Hoffman’s minus-18 is second-worst among Sens forwards. He hardly sees any shorthanded time on ice and creates head-scratching turnovers from time to time. Those defensive problems can be masked, however, under Bruce Cassidy’s watch.
What it would cost: Hoffman is the first name on the list who’s not a rental. The 28-year-old has a cap hit north of $5.1 million through the end of 2018-19. The B’s would have to shed some salary — making Ryan Spooner’s $2.8 million salary an enticing trade piece — but they’ll likely have to add a prospect or draft pick to the package.
Why he’d fit: No one enjoys success against the Bruins like Thomas Vanek does. The veteran has 68 points (33 goals, 35 assists) in 68 career games against the Bruins. Into his 13th season, Vanek entered Saturday’s slate with 41 points in 61 games. Adding Vanek would give the Bruins a proven veteran goal scorer and improve their hopes for a deep playoff run. Vanek could slide into the right-wing slot on the Bruins second line, either bumping down Spooner or out of the lineup completely. Vanek would also give the Bruins another option on their second power-play unit.
Why he wouldn’t fit: Why fix what’s not broken? The Bruins rank fifth in goals for per game with 3.24. From top to bottom the Bruins are getting offensive contributions. An upgrade at forward might not be necessary.
What it would cost: A mid or late round pick should be enough to rent Vanek’s services.
Why he’d fit: Maroon is an extremely interesting player. His 14 goals entering Saturday shows he can score consistently. But it’s his physical play that’s most impressive. Maroon sits 46th in the league with 119 hits.
Why he wouldn’t fit: His game is similar to that of Matt Beleskey. The Bruins thought they were getting themselves a physical goal scorer when they signed Beleskey in July 2015. They got the physicality, but not the goal scoring.
What it would cost: According to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, the Bruins have offered prospects for Maroon. With a plethora of prospects in the system, the Bruins hold the firepower to acquire Maroon.
Bruins and Blues both deep in prospects for St. Louis native Maroon
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) February 23, 2018
Why he’d fit: Trading for another team’s captain and bringing in some leadership is never a bad thing. McDonagh has been there and done that. Adding McDonagh would give the Bruins another top defenseman to go along with their solid group they have. McDonagh is very solid in his own end and is equally as good with the puck on his stick. A guy who adds contribution on both sides of the puck is so important in today’s NHL.
Why he wouldn’t fit: The Bruins have nine healthy defensemen following the Nick Holden trade. Sweeney would have to move at least one of the current crop of B’s blueliners to make room for the Rangers captain.
What it would cost: New York would want Jake DeBrusk in a trade for the Rangers captain as reported by Matheson. Acquiring McDonagh would come at a big cost: most likely DeBrusk, a top prospect and a first-round pick.
I'm hearing NYR would want Bruins' rookie Jake DeBrusk included in any deal for Ryan McDonagh. Ironic, since former Oiler GM Sather traded for Jake's dad Louie when he sent Mark Messier to NYR in 1991.
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) February 16, 2018
Why he’d fit: Though he’s a right shot defenseman, a top-3 of Karlsson, Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy would really give the Bruins a sensational blue-line unit come playoff time. Karlsson’s playmaking ability and improvements on the defensive end since the start of his career make him a yearly Norris Trophy candidate when healthy. The Sens captain showed significant toughness playing with an ankle injury during Ottawa’s inspirational playoff run where they were one shot away from reaching the Cup Final. Another run at the Cup would certainly give him some new life as the Sens enter rebuild mode.
Why he wouldn’t fit: This isn’t a question of why he wouldn’t fit, but rather who he’d pair with. Chara and McAvoy are set as the B’s top unit, so do you pair Karlsson with Holden, Torey Krug or Matt Grzelcyk, move Kevan Miller — a stay at home blueliner — back to the left side to create more balance?
What it would cost: Brandon Carlo, multiple draft picks and either DeBrusk or Danton Heinen just for starters. Karlsson will be paid top dollar when he hits the open market in 2019, and the Sens will be asking for a king’s ransom in return for a franchise-caliber defenseman.