Should the Boston Bruins switch their focus on the NHL trade market to Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson?
The 2019 Calder Trophy winner has suddenly become the subject of NHL trade rumors after telling Sportsnet Insider Elliotte Friedman that he is in no rush to sign an extension with the Canucks.
“I got one more year left over there. And I don’t want to rush into anything because I still don’t know myself if it’s going to be a short- or long-term (contract),” Pettersson told Friedman on Wednesday. “It’s going to be probably my biggest contract so far. So I don’t want to stress anything.”
With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci retiring, there have been plenty of NHL trade rumors linking the Bruins to Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm and Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele. Like both those players, Pettersson is heading into the final year of his current contract, but unlike those potential 2024 unrestricted free agents, Pettersson is set to be a restricted free agent next July 1. More importantly, Pettersson will only be 25 years old then, while Lindholm will be 29, and Scheifele will be 31.
Whoever winds up signing Lindholm and Scheifele to their subsequent contracts will likely need to sign them into the wrong side of 30, while Pettersson will be in his prime throughout his next contract. That’s excellent news for the team that locks him in because the 6-foot-2, 176-pound pivot is already playing as if he’s entered his prime years. After an injury-riddled 2020-21 season that saw him play just 26 games and score just ten goals with 11 assists, Pettersson bounced back in a big way the past two seasons. He scored 32 goals and had 36 assists in 80 games during the 2021-22 season and followed that up with 39 goals and 63 assists in 80 games this past season.
There is no telling what the trade cost could be for Elias Pettersson, who is heading into the final year of a three-year, $22 million contract that carried a $7.3 million salary cap hit, but it’s at least worth looking into for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. By all accounts, he is trying to establish a future 1-2 punch up the middle through the NHL trade market, and with the Bruins set to enter next offseason with $28.5 million in salary cap space, wouldn’t that money be better spent on a budding, young superstar center than two centers entering their back nine?