With defenseman Derek Forbort expected to return for Tuesday night’s tilt with the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden, the Boston Bruins waived defenseman Anton Stralman on Monday afternoon and are working hard to move a player on the NHL trade market.
In order to insert Derek Forbort back into the lineup, the Boston Bruins will need to clear $1.6 million in salary cap space. Per our friends at PuckPedia though, if Stralman clears, the Bruins would have just enough cap space to activate Forbort.
If Stralman is claimed or is cleared/sent down, #NHLBruins would have just enough cap space created in order to activate Forbort and exit LTIR for the first time this year.
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) November 28, 2022
However, it appears the Bruins are hoping to have more than ‘just enough’ cap space. According to one NHL executive on Sunday night, before the Boston Bruins waived Stralman, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has been working the NHL trade wire feverishly in an effort to pull off a cap space-clearing trade.
“Donny’s working hard to make room for Forbort and to gain any type of cap cushion he can going forward,” the NHL exec told Boston Hockey Now. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a trade in the next 48 hours.”
Again, that observation was made prior to the Bruins waiving Stralman but as mentioned above, that still doesn’t pave the way for Forbort to jump back into the lineup after missing the last 11 games thanks to finger surgery.
So who could Sweeney wind up trading? Well, the usual suspects, defenseman Mike Reilly ($3M AAV), and forward Craig Smith ($3.1M), are still available on the cheap. With Reilly already clearing waivers twice, and Smith without a goal in his last 32 games (dating back to April 4 last season), Sweeney may even have to add a sweetener to convince teams to take them in a NHL trade.
With that caveat likely in any Smith or Reilly trade, this puck scribe wondered aloud to the aforementioned NHL exec, what about trading defenseman Brandon Carlo being the odd-man out via a trade?
“With the emergence of Forbort as their best stay-at-home guy and PK defenseman, and [Connor] Clifton seemingly taking that next step finally, would the Bruins listen to trade offers for Carlo or even shop him?” yours truly wondered allowed on Sunday night.
“You may be onto something. I like Brandon a lot, but he might be worth more to another team,” the NHL exec replied. Depends on how the bruins view their depth. You wouldn’t have to add any sweetener with him, that’s for sure. Brandon has value around the league. Maybe a team like Seattle takes him?”
Carlo’s contract has four seasons remaining on his contract after this season. The honest read here is that this would be an offseason trade if it ever happens. Carlo still holds plenty of clout in the leadership core of the Boston Bruins, and with his team off to a record-breaking start, would Sweeney want to chance disrupting team chemistry right now?