The NHL trade and free agent market for defensemen is heating up, and the Boston Bruins continue to be right smack in the middle.
As reported here on numerous occasions, despite the disbelief of some Boston Bruins fans and commenters below each report, the Bruins have been looking to strengthen their blue line for a while now. Whether it has been Don Sweeney’s continued pursuit of his white whale, Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, or just a depth addition, the former NHL defenseman has kept his eye on the NHL trade market for defensemen since the offseason.
After placing defenseman Derek Forbort (lower-body) on long-term injury reserve on Thursday morning, Sweeney and the Bruins could be without star defenseman Charlie McAvoy for a bit as well. McAvoy was forced to leave his team’s 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres after he ran into a reverse hit elbow from Buffalo Sabres forward J.J. Peterka early in the third period. McAvoy was not on the ice for practice on Friday, and despite Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery stressing that he does not have a concussion, the Bruins’ star defenseman is day-to-day and questionable for Saturday’s tilt with the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden. Could his and Forbort’s status accelerate Sweeney’s pursuit to add a defenseman?
If so, the Boston Bruins GM has plenty of options besides Hanifin, and some of those options would come at a much lower price than the 26-year-old potential 2024 unrestricted free agent who will be seeking a hefty raise from the $4.9 salary cap hit that he has carried for the last six seasons. Hanifin’s teammate Chris Tanev, another potential 2024 UFA, is still very much available, but the Toronto Maple Leafs and other interested teams have reportedly already balked at Flames general manager Craig Conroy’s asking price for the 33-year-old, 6-foot-2, 196-pound rearguard.
This past week, Nashville Predators general manager Barry Trotz confirmed numerous reports that 32-year-old puck-moving defenseman Tyson Barrie has requested a trade and is doing his best to facilitate one. Barrie is also a potential 2024 UFA and in the final season of a three-year contract that carries a $4.5 million cap hit.
As he always seems to be, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo is once again available on the NHL trade market, and he’s not even three months into his current one-year, $1.6 million contract. As always, attitude is a risk with DeAngelo, but his availability now is based on a numbers game on the Hurricanes’ blue line.
NHL trade chatter is also starting to percolate around 2016 18th pick overall Logan Stanley. The 25-year-old 6-foot-7, 231-pound Stanley is currently playing on a one-year, $1 million contract.
Finally, unrestricted free agent and 26-year-old Ethan Bear is now holding open practice sessions in Kelowna, British Columbia, as he tries to entice teams to sign him for the rest of the season.
So there are plenty of options for Sweeney and other NHL GMs searching for defensemen, but if they need immediate help, they will need to pull the trigger on the NHL trade market before the Holiday Roster Freeze sets in on Dec. 20 until Dec. 27.