An NHL source with direct knowledge of the situation has confirmed to Boston Hockey Now that not only has Boston Bruins winger Craig Smith been on the NHL trade market since the offseason began, but that the Bruins recently had in-depth trade talks with another team regarding Smith.
According to this source, the NHL trade talks between the Boston Bruins and this team that he could not reveal, got so deep that the interested general manager made an actual trade offer to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.
“I can confirm an actual trade offer was made but after trying to find common ground for awhile, the talks were put on hold,” the source told BHN. “This team really wanted Smith and wanted this to happen.”
Craig Smith, 32, is entering the final season of a three-year, $9.3 million contract that carries a $3.1 salary cap hit. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound winger had 16 goals and 20 assists in 74 regular season games last season and went pointless in seven playoff games. In his first season with the Boston Bruins – after signing in October, 2020 – Smith had 13 goals and 19 assists in 54 regular season games and two goals and three assists in 10 games during the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Smith was originally drafted by the Nashville Predators in the fourth round (98th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He spent the first nine seasons of his NHL career with the Predators. His best season came in 2013-14 when he scored 24 goals and had 28 assists in 79 games. He had a career-high in goals when he netted 25 lamplighters in 79 games during the 2017-18 season.
It’s no secret that the Bruins have been looking to shed cap space on the NHL trade market this offseason and Smith and fellow Bruins winger Nick Foligno have been mentioned in NHL trade rumors on numerous occasions this summer. However, despite his team now being $2.2 million over the flattened $82.5 NHL salary cap, Sweeney didn’t sound like he was in a hurry to get back under the cap when speaking to the media last Wednesday. As Sweeney pointed out, the Bruins can place one or more of defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk as well as winger Brad Marchand on long-term injury reserve to get under the cap and gain some space until November.
“I hope we’ve done significant math to be able to put the pieces together,” Sweeney said. “We have some challenges, as do several teams and how we do that through trade or be it through waivers that really all teams are going to have to face. We don’t have an issue certainly through November. We don’t have an issue because of LTI and the likelihood that will be an LTI with the injuries we have, the amount of injuries we have.
But coming out of it is the math challenge. And yeah, we’ll have to unwind a little bit. But we have some mechanisms to be able to do that. We know what the leverage will be and, you know, you just don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then anyways. So, we’re prepared to go in a couple different directions to explore what we have to, but we have mechanisms in place to be able to accomplish the goal.”