Will the Boston Bruins look to deal from a position of strength so they can bolster their second line and could Los Angeles Kings forwards Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter once again be potential trade targets?
The Bruins are 9-1-2 and will carry a four-game win streak into their Atlantic Division tilt with the Ottawa Senators Saturday night at TD Garden. The Black and Gold are second to only the Vancouver Canucks (+17) in goal differential at plus 16. They have the best line in hockey in Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak and just got second line pivot David Krejci back into their lineup Tuesday with Krejci notching a goal and an assist in a 5-1 rout of the San Jose Sharks. In search of secondary scoring only a week ago, the Bruins also saw eleven players register a point in that win. So why then would Bruins general manager Don Sweeney try to add a top 6 winger with his team seemingly finding that elusive scoring balance recently?
Well, as the saying goes, “They don’t throw you lifejackets when you’re sinking, they throw you anvils!” and right now, Sweeney doesn’t need a life jacket. His team is currently a fancy, high-speed yacht cruising through NHL waters with relative ease and precision. The Bruins aren’t going to go into a tailspin if Sweeney doesn’t pull the trigger on a trade to fill the second line right wing slot with a dependable scorer right now, but it can’t hurt to look now before a team may have a chance to put him over the barrel at the trade deadline.
On more than one occasion since becoming general manager of the Bruins on May 20, 2015, Sweeney has looked at Carter and Toffoli as potential trade targets. Per more than one NHL source, talks regarding Carter were had to provide a fallback plan should the Bruins had been unable to acquire Weymouth, MA native Charlie Coyle just prior to the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline last February. One NHL source recently told BHN that Sweeney and the Bruins were poking around on Toffoli over the summer. Ironically, after that source divulged that information, Toffoli was a healthy scratch for the Kings despite having a 207 game consecutive game streak going. Trade speculation is now once again surrounding the 27-year-old Toffoli who is in the final season of a three-year contract that carried an annual cap hit of $4.6 million.
Could Sweeney now circle back to Kings GM Rob Blake and see if he may be able to pry a player who looks to be in head coach Todd McLellan’s dog house? Toffoli has only cracked the 20-goal plateau once (24 goals in 2017-18) since lighting the lamp 31 times in 2015-16 and the feel around the team and the league is that he needs a change of scenery. The question now is, with no no-trade or no-movement clauses in his contract, will that change come before he reaches unrestricted free agency next July? Maybe having Krejci or Charlie Coyle feeding him pucks could be just what the doctor ordered for Toffoli and the Bruins.
As for Carter, his two years left at $5.2 million per, are very likely too much given the Bruins limited cap space ($1.2 million) now. Also, the fact they will need to sign restricted free agents Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk and potentially RFA forward Brett Ritchie, as well as having Coyle, captain Zdeno Chara, forward Chris Wagner and defenseman Torey Krug headed towards unrestricted free agency, unless an equal or larger cap hit was going the other way, Carter seems unlikely right now.