The top two centers on the NHL trade market are off the board already, and the Boston Bruins were unable to acquire either of them.
On Wednesday night, the Calgary Flames traded Bruins’ NHL trade target and center Elias Lindholm to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Andrei Kuzmenko, a 2024 first round pick, prospects Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, as well as a conditional 2024 fourth round pick. Lindholm, who is in the final season of a six-year, $29.1 million contract that carried a $4.8 million salary cap hit, has nine goals and 14 assists in 49 games this season. He was recently named to his first NHL All-Star Game. Lindholm is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. There were no reports that the 6-foot-1, 194-pound center was close to signing a contract extension with the Canucks.
Then on Friday morning, the Montreal Canadiens traded center Sean Monahan to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a 2024 first-round pick and a conditional draft pick. Per TSN Insider Darren Dreger, the Canadiens will receive a third-round pick in 2027 if Winnipeg wins the Stanley Cup. TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston reported that no salary was retained by Montreal in the deal. Monahan, a pending unrestricted free agent, carries a cap hit of $1.985 million for this season.
So why weren’t the Boston Bruins, who are very much a Stanley Cup contender, able to acquire one of Monahan or Lindholm? Well, what was the common thread in the NHL trade cost for both pivots?
Yep, a 2024 first round draft pick. That pick (top-ten protected), along with a 2025 fourth-round draft pick, was sent to the Detroit Red Wings at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline in exchange for Tyler Bertuzzi. After the Bruins were upset by the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Bertuzzi left via unrestricted free agency and signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Not only do the Bruins not have a 2024 first round pick to use on the NHL trade market, but they don’t own a second or third round pick either. Now, of course, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney could use his 2025 first round pick as trade bait, but sources close to the trade discussions on both Lindholm and Monahan told BHN that Sweeney didn’t seem inclined to do so. The Bruins have gone all in leading into or at the NHL Trade Deadline and haven’t had a first round pick since the 2021 NHL Entry Draft when they drafted forward Fabian Lysell 21st overall. They’ve actually drafted in the first round only one other time since 2017, and that was in 2019 when they drafted forward John Beecher 30th overall.
While there really are no legit Top 6 centers available on the NHL trade market after Lindholm and Monahan got dealt, the market is set if one emerges, and the Boston Bruins more than likely won’t be acquiring that player, given their lack of a first round pick.