Will the Boston Bruins be content entering the 2023-24 regular season with Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle as their top two centers, or will they try and acquire a leading center on the NHL trade market?
On more than one occasion, the Boston Bruins have been linked to Winnipeg Jets 30-year-old center Mark Scheifele in NHL trade rumors. The latest dose of NHL trade chatter linking the Bruins to Mark Scheifele – and Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm – came last month after longtime Boston Bruins center David Krejci officially retired from the NHL. Krejci’s announcement also came less than a month after Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron retired.
Those departures left a massive void up the middle for the Bruins, and with Scheifele and Lindholm both headed into the final season of their contracts as potential 2024 unrestricted free agents, the expectation remains that the Bruins will at least circle back on both centers to see what it would cost to acquire them on the NHL trade market.
Are the NHL odds on Scheifele being traded increasing again? Winnipeg Free Press reporter Mike McIntyre recently opined that the Bruins could make one last push to acquire Scheifele, who, along with goalie Connor Hellebucyk, isn’t expected to play with the Winnipeg Jets beyond this upcoming season.
‘Boston still makes sense for Scheifele, given its glaring need for not one but two high-quality centers following the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejčí. Does Don Sweeney get desperate and call up Cheveldayoff and make him an offer he can’t refuse in the next few weeks?
If so, what might the Bruins have that could benefit the Jets, who seem keen on getting a haul that can help now rather than a few years down the road? A re-tool rather than a rebuild.
There’s also the pivotal issue of whether Scheifele and Hellebuyck would be open to signing long-term deals now (as Pierre-Luc Dubois did prior to being dealt to Los Angeles). If not, and they want to test unrestricted free agency next summer, that would reduce any potential return.
We know the notoriously patient Cheveldayoff isn’t going to rush into anything. At some point, the urgency has to pick up. Rock, meet hard place.’
One thing to note, and he’s not the first to do so, is McIntyre suggesting Scheifele isn’t the most coachable player.
‘Patience (with Scheifele) has worn thin with three different coaches now, from Paul Maurice to Dave Lowry to Rick Bowness. Scheifele, who has long believed he was underpaid on his current contract, will be looking to cash in on the next deal. There’s a strong chance it will be somewhere other than Winnipeg.’
Scheifele is headed into the final season of an eight-year, $49 million contract that carries a $6.125 million salary cap hit. He is coming off a 42-goal season with 68 points in 81 games. If the 6-foot-3, 207-pound is looking to test the 2024 UFA market, is it worth the Bruins trading valuable assets on their current roster? Also, for a team that prides itself on culture and team first, would Scheifele be a good fit?
The captainless Bruins will hold their first ‘Captain’s Practice’ session on Tuesday. Will they go with Zacha or Coyle as their replacement for their most recent captain, Bergeron, or will they acquire another center by the time the season starts on October 11?
The NHL betting odds on the former aren’t high, but as they say, sometimes ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’