5 intriguing potential trade targets for the Bruins entering the trade deadline

Time is ticking for Don Sweeney to land a marquee name.

Could Rangers forward and former Boston College Eagle Chris Kreider become a Bruin before the Feb. 24 trade deadline?
Could Rangers forward and former Boston College Eagle Chris Kreider become a Bruin before the Feb. 24 trade deadline? –Angela Spagna, Bruins Daily

We’re less than a week from the NHL trade deadline and things are already starting to heat up around the league. Several playoff contenders, including the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Vancouver Canucks, already bolstered their rosters with notable additions.

The surging Lighting, who trail the league-leading Bruins by a single point, acquired Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. One day later, the Canucks snatched Tyler Toffoli — one of the biggest names on the market — from the Los Angeles Kings. On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Divison-leading Capitals added Brenden Dillon to bolster its blue-line.

The Bruins had a reported interest in Coleman, Toffoli, and Dillon, but plenty of desirable targets remain available as Don Sweeney looks to upgrade his roster between now and Feb. 24. Here’s a look at a few other notable names on the block.

Chris Kreider

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With Toffoli off the board, the veteran Rangers’ winger has taken over the top spot on many trade target lists, and with good reason. The former Boston College standout and Boxford native would provide a legitimate upgrade for a team looking to bolster its top-six, including the Bruins.

Kreider’s speed and skill would suit him well playing alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the second line. Through 57 games this season, the 28-year-old has tallied 42 points (23 goals, 19 assists). And it doesn’t hurt that he’s a local kid because we all know the Bruins love that.

The one problem with Kreider? The price. That may steer Sweeney away given his trade history with the Rangers, including the Rick Nash deal two years ago.

The Bruins will need to give up a pretty penny along with a top prospect and a first-round pick in order to land their top-six forward. It’s a steep price, but their Stanley Cup window with this core isn’t getting any larger.

Sweeney needs that upgrade to bolster Boston’s Cup chances. But Kreider isn’t the only option. He may have his sights set on another tri-state winger as well.

Kyle Palmieri

The Bruins and Devils have a little history with one another at the trade deadline. And the two teams are in a similar spot again this year with the Devils already selling key assets like Coleman and Taylor Hall.

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Last year, Sweeney and former Devils GM Ray Shero agreed to a last-minute deal involving Marcus Johansson. The Swede, along with Charlie Coyle, provided a spark on the third line during the team’s postseason run.

This year, Sweeney hopes for a bigger upgrade in Palmieri, a 2009 first-round draft pick.

The 29-year-old has a respectable 41 points (22 goals, 19 assists) in 54 games entering Tuesday’s slate. The price to acquire the three-time 20-goal scorer wouldn’t be as steep compared to Kreider. Yet, they may be better off landing the highly-regarded Kreider given his decent postseason track record (37 points in 77 career playoff games) at least compared to Palmieri’s 15 points in 38 career playoff tilts.

Josh Anderson

Sweeney has targeted big-bodied forwards like Anderson in the past. But this isn’t necessarily the road he should go down. Instead, with names like Kreider and Palmieri on the market, Anderson should come as a last resort option for the Bruins.

That trend hasn’t continued in 2019-20 as he’s tallied a paltry four points (one goal, three assists) in 26 games. On top of that, he’s been sidelined with a shoulder injury since December.

The Blue Jackets remain unsure of Anderson’s potential return date even though he’s returned to practice recently. Considering this, do the Bruins really want to deal with an injured player who isn’t necessarily up to speed at this point in the season? Most likely, the answer is no. Not to mention Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen probably won’t let Anderson go for a penny as the Blue Jackets are currently in a playoff spot after losing big-name players like Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.

Anderson isn’t a bad player by any means. Yet, he might not fit Boston’s top-six need even though he’s a year removed from notching career highs in goals (27), assists (20) and points (47).

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His struggles this season shouldn’t necessarily scare the Bruins off from Anderson, but they could wait to acquire him until next season when he becomes an RFA.

Joe Thornton

The mere fact Joe Thornton’s name appears on this list is quite remarkable considering the fallout 15 years ago from his trade to San Jose. But a disappointing year in the Bay Area may very well lead to the end of Jumbo Joe’s tenure with the Sharks.

Boston’s top overall pick in 1997 is on the back-nine of his eventful NHL career. He’ll enter the Hockey Hall of Fame when he hangs up the skates with or without a Stanley Cup ring. But he’d like nothing more than for one more crack at hoisting that big silver hardware over his head.

The good news about a potential Thornton move — as unlikely as it is? He won’t have to come in as a savior and wouldn’t be as costly, at least compared to Kreider and Palmieri. No, he doesn’t fit the need for a top-six winger, but the Bruins won’t have to do much to find a place for Thornton in the lineup. The 6-foot-4 forward would likely slot in as the third line center assuming Charlie Coyle moves up to skate with DeBrusk and Krejci on the second line.

Like Anderson, Sweeney should use any potential Thornton addition as a last-resort type of move. But that shouldn’t scare Sweeney from making that move even given Thornton’s lack of production this season (25 points in 59 games). The Bruins have a tight-knit group, but adding another veteran among the likes of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask — the five players remaining from that 2011 Cup squad — wouldn’t hurt them by any means.

Ilya Kovalchuk

Sweeney could’ve landed Kovalchuk for nothing once the Kings released the Russian forward earlier this season. That didn’t happen as the rival Canadiens inked Kovalchuk (21 points in 36 games with both L.A. and Montreal) to a one-year, two-way deal worth $700,000.

The Bruins might have cooled off on a potential Kovalchuk signing after his disappointing tenure in Los Angeles. Kovalchuk has since found his stride again in Montreal, tallying 12 points in 19 games (six goals, six assists) since arriving in January.

His tenure in Montreal may last even shorter than his time in Hollywood, though. The Canadiens have essentially dropped out of the postseason bubble and Kovalchuk, like Thornton, has entered the Cup-chasing phase of his career.

Kovalchuk may provide a middle-of-the-lineup upgrade over some of the Bruins’ in-house options. Yet, the odds of landing the 2001 top overall pick remain slim. After all, the Bruins and Canadiens only exchanged one trade with one another over the last five decades and change.

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