The NHL trade market at the 2021 NHL Draft was one of the craziest in recent years. While the Boston Bruins were involved in plenty of trade discussions, they were not part of the eight trades involving players that were completed by the time the Arizona Coyotes made prospect Samuel Lipkin Mr. Irrelevant with the 223rd and last pick in the draft. However, just because the Bruins didn’t acquire or trade away any players or picks, that doesn’t mean they didn’t set the table for not just trades but also some free agent signings.
A certain Boston Hockey Now puck scribe was quite critical of Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney this past Thursday after he acknowledged that he had yet to really explore the NHL trade market for the Top 4 left-shot defenseman the Bruins are targeting this offseason.
“I haven’t been dealing with the trade market, we haven’t reached free agency,” Sweeney replied when yours truly asked what he thought of the NHL trade market for defensemen so far.
That came as a bit of a shock considering the Bruins had over a month since they were eliminated by the New York Islanders to get a head start on what everyone knew would be a crazy weekend on the NHL trade market. Well, apparently once Sweeney was done speaking to the media Thursday morning, he started burning up the phone lines. Multiple sources have confirmed to Boston Hockey Now that Sweeney circled back again with Buffalo Sabres General Manager Kevyn Adams to see if the price had come on Sabres captain and Chelmsford, MA native Jack Eichel and the answer was a blunt ‘No’.
There was a report by FOBHN Dominic Tiano that Sweeney and former Bruins Assistant GM Jim Benning have had discussions regarding former Bruins killer Braden Holtby. Holtby, 31 is heading into the final season of a two-year contract that carries a $4.3 million cap hit. BHN has since confirmed that while there were exploratory talks there, nothing substantial was discussed. Two NHL sources speculated, based on chatter they heard during the draft that maybe the trade could end up also including left-shot defenseman Nate Schmidt. Check back here in the coming days as I plan to stay on top of this.
#NHLBruins have had talks with the Vancouver Canucks regarding goaltender Braden Holtby. Don't know how intense they've gotten, but I suspect that they will continue as GM Don Sweeney looks for an experienced goaltender to come in while Tuukka Rask recovers.
— Dominic Tiano (@dominictiano) July 24, 2021
What we can confirm however is that Holtby isn’t the only veteran goalie that Sweeney has looked into on the NHL trade market. During multiple discussions involving Scituate, MA native Conor Garland and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson – who were both traded to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday – 31-year-old goalie Darcy Kuemper became a focal point for the Bruins as well center Christian Dvorak. Like Holtby, Kuemper is heading into the final season of a two-year contract but his cap hit would cost the Bruins $200,000 more against the cap.
Now onto the free-agent front and the latest on the Bruins contract talks with defensemen Ryan Suter and Keith Yandle. As reported here on Saturday, the Boston Bruins are one of a few teams, on a much shorter list now, that Milton, MA native Keith Yandle is expected to choose from as early as Monday and almost certainly before free agency kicks off at noon on Wednesday. There wasn’t a ton of chatter Saturday night after the draft or on Sunday, but we should know soon if the longtime ‘Yandle to the Bruins’ rumors finally become a reality.
On the Ryan Suter front, Sportsnet Insider Elliotte Friedman has been all over this and in his latest 31 Thoughts Podcast with Jeff Marek, Friedman said that the Bruins were still in on the former Minnesota Wild defenseman that was bought out by the Wild back on July 13. Friedman also was big on the Dallas Stars being a potential frontrunner but apparently, the 36-year-old Suter is looking for a 2-3 year contract.
Well, a source confirmed to BHN Sunday that is indeed true and he may be asking north of $5 million. That same source said the Bruins will not do that but as we’ve seen so many times, these talks are very fluid and that could change before free agency begins on Wednesday. Like Yandle, Suter would like to get something done by Wednesday.