The Boston Bruins are the odds-on favorites (+500), to win the 2023 Stanley Cup right now. That doesn’t mean however that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney can simply make those odds a reality ahead of the March 3 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.
Sweeney, who has a team in win-now mode given their record and the chance that captain Patrice Bergeron and center David Krejci may retire after this season, is ready to do what it takes to give those long-time Bruins stalwarts one more Stanley Cup. However, he also has to approach the NHL Trade Deadline with the future and potentially life without Bergeron and Krejci in mind.
“My job is to put the best team on the ice year to year, balance it. Live in the moment for what this group wants to try and accomplish, and good on them,” Sweeney said in the press conference announcing a contract extension for forward Pavel Zacha following his team’s 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. “Like I said, process-driven group, and we’ll address things as they come, and I’ll do the best job I possibly can for the organization.”
There are some high-end playoff rentals available ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Vancouver Canucks captain and 27-year-old center Bo Horvat, 30-year-old Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, and winger Patrick Kane, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladisav Gavrikov and potentially St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly and winger Vladimir Tarasenko are regulars in NHL trade rumors right now. According to one NHL source speaking to Boston Hockey Now on Saturday, Horvat is ‘pretty much a done deal’ to be traded before the NHL Trade Deadline.
Sweeney would love to acquire the likes of the aforementioned players and do whatever is necessary to potentially send Bergeron and Krejci off into the sunset with their second Stanley Cup rings, but like so many NHL GM’s, Sweeney is hamstrung not just by the current NHL salary cap but also by next season’s which is only expected to rise $1 million over the current $82.5 cap. Per PuckPedia, the Boston Bruins only have $4 million in cap space, but that’s due to winger Jake DeBrusk being on long-term injured reserve. DeBrusk is expected to be back within two weeks so if Sweeney was to make a trade before that and use the LTIR cap relief from DeBrusk, he’s still robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“You’ve got to hope you stay healthy, and I think we have a good hockey team. I think we’re deep, but we’re probably going to have to continue to add and supplement,” Sweeney said. “We’ve been blending in some of the players that have played particularly well down in Providence and earned an opportunity, so we’re going to continue to evaluate that if the opportunity presents itself. There haven’t been a lot of trades up until this point. We’ll have to see going forward. It’ll take some creativity for clubs like our own that have some cap challenges, but chances are that most of the teams that are hopefully going to get an opportunity to play in the playoffs generally have cap challenges, and we’re no different. We’re going to try to do our best to put the best team we possibly can.”