Could the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames wind up being dance partners on the NHL trade market before they kick off their 2022-23 regular season in Washington against the Capitals on Oct. 12?
Reports surfaced Thursday night into Friday that the Boston Bruins had invited veteran defenseman Anton Stralman to training camp. As of 6:15 PM ET, the Boston Bruins had not confirmed the invite but all signs were pointing to the 36-year-old defenseman, who scored eight goals and had 23 points in 74 games for the Arizona Coyotes last season.
Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney had already told the media twice in the past week that he had extended a PTO invite to a veteran NHLer but would not say who or what position that player was. With the Stralman news on Friday, it appears that for now Sweeney is hoping to find a stop gap via other avenues – PTO’s or waivers – rather than the NHL trade market. However, if Stralman doesn’t work out and he can’t find that stop-gap defenseman until Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk return from their shoulder surgeries, he may want to call Flames general manager Brad Treliving if he hasn’t already.
When the Flames signed former Flames defenseman Michael Stone to a professional tryout on September 15, my Calgary Hockey Now colleague Steve Macfarlane, pointed out that the move could very well mean that Treliving was trying to move a defenseman on the NHL trade market. With ten NHL defensemen with one-way contracts on the current roster in training camp, one, or even two of them would need to be moved to get cap space, especially if Treliving signed Stone again.
‘But don’t be surprised if he somehow finds his way back to the Calgary Flames press box on a fourth consecutive one-year deal if GM Brad Treliving pulls the trigger on a trade that sends a defenceman or two out in return for more forward depth.
Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Chris Tanev, MacKenzie Weegar, Oliver Kylington, Nikita Zadorov, Connor Mackey, Juuso Valimaki, Nicolas Meloche and Dennis Gilbert are all on one-way deals. On the NHL trade market, Hanifin would have significant value. Kylington is also at a sell-high spot after his breakout season. Valimaki still has some of the cache of a first-round draft pick and may have some suitors as well.’
Of course Norwood native and former Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin will catch the attention of Bruins fans and the Bruins have been linked to Hanifin in NHL trade rumors on more than one occasion. Years ago, my partner-in-scribe here at BHN, Joe Haggerty, while working for CSNNE.com, confirmed that Sweeney was trying feverishly to acquire Hanifin on the NHL trade market leading into the now infamous 2015 NHL Draft. Per Haggs’ report, Sweeney was trying to move up to third overall in the draft to draft Hanifin, and was willing to part with two of the three consecutive draft picks (13,14,15), to do so. His attempts failed and Hanifin went fifth overall to the Carolina Hurricanes.
On Friday afternoon, an NHL source told BHN he hadn’t heard Hanifin’s name out there in NHL trade chatter lately. Even if he did though, his two seasons, with a $4.9M AAV, left on his contract would be an issue for the Bruins, unless Treliving was willing to take on left-shot defensemen Mike Reilly or Derek Forbort, who both have two seasons left with a $3M AAV.
Earlier in the summer, it was confirmed here that the Bruins were entertaining trade talks regarding Bruins winger Craig Smith, who is entering the final season of his contract and has a $3.1M AAV. Could Smith be used as NHL trade bait for Hanifin or another defenseman that the Bruins have showed interest in before, or Kylington, who has two seasons left with a $2.5M AAV?
It should be noted that even if they could move Forbort or Reilly, should the Bruins acquire Hanifin, they would have four left-shot defensemen on the roster when Grzelcyk came back. If they acquired Kylington, they would then have two defensemen in him and Zboril that can play both sides.
This is all speculation from yours truly but one thing is for sure, if Stralman doesn’t work and Sweeney decides to make more of an impact move for a defenseman, the Flames are open for business on the NHL trade market.