Whether a Jack Eichel trade takes place soon or sometime later this season, the Boston Bruins likely won’t be involved.
The Eichel NHL trade chatter picked up dramatically heading into this past weekend but by Monday, Eichel was still a member of the Buffalo Sabres. According to a well-placed NHL source, while the Bruins are actively trying to improve their team on the NHL trade market, they’re not involved in the Eichel trade sweepstakes and haven’t been for a while.
“Donny [Bruins GM Don Sweeney] has been looking for a d-man and has been for a bit now, but as far as I know, he’s not in on Eichel and hasn’t been since the draft,” the source told Boston Hockey Now recently. “Like so many have pointed out, the ask is just too high for the Bruins and really for almost every team in the league.”
While the general belief amongst this source and many NHL insiders is that the Sabres’ trade demands for Eichel on the NHL trade market have decreased a bit, the starting point with the Bruins would still likely be a top 6 forward or top 4 defenseman, a top prospect already on the NHL roster (likely Jack Studnicka or Jeremy Swayman), a first round pick and likely more picks on top of that.
The Bruins aren’t moving Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or David Pastrnak, and the Sabres likely aren’t interested in re-acquiring Taylor Hall or trading for Charlie Coyle or Craig Smith. On the blue line, the B’s just inked Charlie McAvoy to an eight-year, $76 million extension so he’s not going anywhere, and if they’re looking for another defenseman, they’re likely, not interested in trading Brandon Carlo. As for Swayman and Studnicka, the read here is they would be more willing to listen on the former and not the latter. With David Krejci’s departure this past offseason, there’s already a void up the middle, and while Bruins fans don’t want to hear it, captain Patrice Bergeron isn’t getting any younger and he also doesn’t have a contract past this season.
On Friday, Vegas Hockey Now confirmed numerous reports that the Golden Knights had become frontrunners for Eichel on the NHL trade market and that the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche were still lurking but alas Eichel and injured and painful neck were still being held hostage by Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and owners Kim and Terry Pegula.
As for why a team like the Bruins – who have just 18 goals in seven games and a powerplay (15.8 percent) ranked 23rd – are searching for a defenseman on the NHL trade market?
“They need more offense from their blue line and specifically their top 4,” the aforementioned NHL source observed.
He’s not wrong. Charlie McAvoy (1g, 2a), Derek Forbort (1g,1a), Connor Clifton (1a), and Mike Reilly (1a), are the only blueliners to register a point thus far. The analytical darling, Matt Grzelcyk, has no points in seven games. That’s simply not enough offense coming from the back end so it makes sense that Sweeney would be on the hunt for a rearguard that can create more offense.