As reported here in early November and a month later on December 5, the Boston Bruins have been very close to acquiring Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli. In fact, so close that if they hadn’t been able to bring Weymouth, MA native Charlie Coyle home from Minnesota in exchange for Scituate, MA native, and son of former Bruin Ted Donato, Ryan, and a conditional fifth-round pick, likely would’ve been a Bruin prior to the 2019 NHL Trade deadline.
Now with the NHL trade deadline just over six weeks away, Sportsnet analyst and co-host of the 31 Thoughts Podcast with Jeff Marek, Elliotte Friedman, reports that the Bruins can essentially have Toffoli – who has 12 goals and 15 assists in 45 games this season – whenever they want as long as another team doesn’t scoop him up.
“I’ll tell you this, I do think Boston if they wanted to, could do a deal for Toffoli almost at any time. I think they know they’ve got that in their hip pocket,” Friedman said in the latest episode. “So the question is: do you do that or do you wait for Kreider?”
A lot Hinges On Kreider
Friedman, of course, is referring to New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, whom he reported a few weeks back, was a trade target for the Bruins and multiple contenders should he become available. Friedman noted though, that he now wonders if that will actually happen or if the Rangers try to keep the unrestricted free agent to be as part of their now accelerated retool on the fly.
“My opinion is changing almost on the day on Kreider,” Friedman said. “Because I’ve had guys tell me that they think the Rangers are starting to think more and more about do they keep him. And again this will all play out over the next six weeks, but you get rid of him, it’s hard to replace.
“You know they’re starting to get some things going offensively. Their top couple of lines have some chemistry. Now I think one of the biggest things is: how much is [Mika] Zibanejad going to cost them?”
Is Kreider Worth Rental Risk?
The 27-year-old Kreider is in the final year of a four-year contract that carried a cap hit of $4.6 million and likely could get a hefty raise and multi-year deal on the open market should he reach free agency next July 1. Zibanejad, 26, will reach free agency in 2023. Back to the Bruins and Kreider though, it’s no secret that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has had his eyes set on Kreider for a while now. Rumors circulated two years ago at the deadline that Sweeney wanted Kreider instead of Rick Nash. Nash was one of the biggest fish on the market at the 2018 deadline but proved to be an unfortunate rental as he suffered what proved to be the final concussion of his career, retiring the following summer.
While it’s only natural that Sweeney could be gunshy after the Nash experiment, he’d be acquiring a 28-year-old that’s still in his prime if he could swing for the fences again and land Kreider, as opposed to a 33-year-old with concussion issues. As Friedman reports now though, not only would Kreider require a hefty price like Nash but he may not only be available. Rangers GM and former Bruins interim GM and assistant GM will likely ask for a 2020 first-round pick and a top prospect. Keep in mind too that the 2020 Draft is already being compared to the famous 2003 Draft. Is a potential rental worth losing what could be a very good pick even from picks 27-31?
If not, that seems to be why Sweeney is as was reported here all along, keeping the lines of communication open with Kings GM Rob Blake on Toffoli. The read here is that Toffoli could be had for a fourth-round pick and a second or third-tier prospect.