Boston Bruins Continue to Pursue Defensemen Trade Market
The Boston Bruins continue to examine and study the NHL trade market with an eye toward beefing up their back end.
While the New York Islanders were the first team to strike with their blockbuster move to trade for and then sign All-Star center Bo Horvat, the Bruins were absolutely a team that had expressed interest in the young pivot given their own long-term situation down the middle of the ice. Still, the more pressing need for the Black and Gold is depth on the back end where the Boston Bruins have already kicked the tires on D-men like Arizona Coyotes rearguard Jakob Chychrun and hardnosed, veteran blueliner Luke Schenn, per sources with knowledge of the situation.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov is another defensemen expected to be a trade option for teams like the Bruins looking for blueline help.
The 27-year-old Chychrun, the best of the bunch and signed at a good cap hit for the next two seasons, will cost the Bruins in terms of draft picks and assets and might require a corresponding salary cap move just to make room for his $4.6 million cap hit. Schenn would be a perfect fit with an $850,000 cap hit and an expiring contract, and Gavrikov would require some kind of salary cap creativity with a $2.8 million cap hit in the final year of his contract.
It’s an interesting time for the Boston Bruins, though, as they very clearly feel a responsibility to go all in at the trade deadline in an effort to win it all while they still having aging centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci on the roster for this season. But at the same time the Bruins are up against the cap this season, have to account for next season when they will most likely have to work around David Pastrnak’s mammoth contract extension that seems to be imminent and have to formulate a plan at the center position once Bergeron and Krejci have moved on.
“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,” said Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney back in January when asked about the strategy for the March trade deadline. “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.
“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.”
As we’ve mentioned previously at this address, the 33-year-old Schenn makes a ton of sense as a two-time Stanley Cup winner with Tampa Bay, a rugged 6-foot-2, 220-pound defenseman that’s among the league leaders in hits and a player that’s willing to drop the gloves and stand up for his teammates. He’s also a right shot that provides important insurance in case anything happens to Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo health-wise, where the B’s at least have Jakob Zboril, Mike Reilly and Anton Stralman as experienced options if something happens to the current left side of their defensemen group.
Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk, in particular, have to be depth concern areas for the Boston Bruins given their injury histories around Stanley Cup playoff-time in year’s past.
The bottom line with all of this is that pursuing defensemen makes much more sense for this loaded Boston Bruins group headed into the trade deadline, while hunting for big names like Patrick Kane, Timo Meier or Ryan O’Reilly might be a little more far-fetched even as the B’s continue to build for an expected Stanley Cup run this spring.