With the February 24 NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching, players the Boston Bruins have targeted are starting to fall off the board. Their primary target, New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, was still with the Rangers as of Monday night but the second group of players Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and his staff have scouted and had trade discussions on is getting smaller by the day. Will he pull the trigger on a deal sooner than later now?
On Sunday, the Bruins were one of four frontrunners to acquire winger Blake Coleman before he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning for prospect Nolan Foote and a 2020 first round pick. Then on Monday night, the Vancouver Canucks acquired winger Tyler Toffoli from the Los Angeles Kings for former Bruins forward Tim Schaller, a 2020 second-round pick, forward prospect Tyler Madden and conditional fourth round pick in 2022.
The Bruins had long coveted Toffoli, scouting him as far back as prior to the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and having numerous discussions on him with the Kings, so many that Hockey Night In Canada insider Elliotte Friedman said Sweeney had a Toffoli deal “in his hip pocket” should he realize the price on Kreider or a more prolific target was becoming too high. Well, Bruins fans better hope that Sweeney’s hip pocket has some other backup plans stored away should he conclude he can’t land Kreider.
The Benefit Of Striking Early
Last February, Sweeney struck early, making an impact trade when he acquired center Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild for forward Ryan Donato and a conditional 2019 fifth round pick. He then grabbed winger Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils for a 2019 second round pick and a 2020 fourth round pick. The moves proved pivotal in the Bruins’ run to Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final as both players provided much-needed scoring depth. Johansson was a rental and ended up signing with the Buffalo Sabres last July but Coyle had one season remaining and has since signed a six-year extension that carries a $5.25 million cap hit. Coyle is now part of arguably the NHL’s best 1-2-3 punch up the middle as the third line center behind David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron.
Remaining Bruins Targets
While Sweeney has solidified his center depth, for now, he is still in search of another winger that can fit in on the right side of Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the second line. The Bruins have also scouted the Anaheim Ducks numerous teams and most recently been locked in on winger Ondrej Kase as a possible solution as second line right wing. The Bruins and Blackhawks also scouted each frequently for a stretch earlier in the season with an NHL source speculating to BHN that the Bruins were eyeing Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad and the Bruins willing to include defenseman John Moore in a package going back to Chicago since they need a depth defenseman.
The Bruins are also interested in Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson but on Sunday, New York Post NHL insider Larry Brooks speculated that the Rangers might be willing to trade Kreider to the Blue Jackets in a package that included Anderson. Former Ranger and current Blue Jackets Special Advisor To The General Manager Rick Nash scouted the Bruins-Rangers game Sunday and that led to Brooks’ speculation. If that were to happen, the Bruins would lose out on two players they’ve pursued as trade targets.
Boston has also been linked Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, who has one year remaining on a five-year contract that carries a $4.6 million cap hit and has a modified no-trade clause. On Sportsnet Hockey Central Monday, Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald indicated that he would like to make a hockey trade for a roster player if he does deal the 29-year-old winger who has hit the 20-goal mark five consecutive seasons – including 22 in 57 games this season – and scored a career-high 30 goals 2015-16.
According to numerous NHL sources wingers Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork, as well as Moore, are the most common Bruins roster names heard in recent trade chatter. Whether or not Sweeney is willing to actually pull from the current roster is yet to be seen, but clearly he may have to decide on that and also on Kreider sooner rather than later because that second wave of scoring wingers available is starting to flatten out.