There is no secret that the Boston Bruins are having some problems with slumping members of the team. There is also no secret that Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand have been apart of trade rumors, a lot of them dating back to the start of the year.
One solution the Bruins could use is signing a veteran checker and moving Kelly or Marchand for a stronger Top 6 player. One veteran checker that is floating around right now is Steve Sullivan. The 39 year old left winger had a disappointing 2012-13 season. He split the 48 game season between the Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils (where he started his career in 1995) and is currently an Unrestricted Free Agent.
Sullivan is not the Top 6 force he used to be with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2000’s. He is reaching 40 and obviously would be playing his last season with the Bruins if he were to be signed. That doesn’t mean however Sullivan could not be used effectively in the Bruins system. He has a reputation of big power play goals (as seen with the Penguins and Predators) and could give the third line a huge boost in the same way Brian Rolston did during the 2011-12 season when he was brought in at the trade deadline.
But what would the Bruins move Marchand or Kelly for? And If they only moved one player, what / who would they get back and how would they rearrange the lines? Well in a previous article I brought up the possibility of the Bruins moving Brad Marchand to the Capitals for Martin Erat. While that certainly seems like a sensible trade, it’s a horrible idea. Not only is Washington in the Eastern Conference alongside the Bruins; they are a consistent playoff team and if Marchand breaks his slump he could find himself paired with Niklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin.. that’s something I don’t want to think about.
What other options could the Bruins possibly have? Let’s look out west for a second.
There are two players in particular that would be good pieces to move for the Bruins would be Blake Wheeler (RW) from Winnipeg or Mikkel Boedker (LW) from Phoenix. Blake Wheeler spent a few seasons in Boston and was traded to the then Atlanta Thrashers (alongside Mark Stuart) for Rich Peverly and Boris Valabik . Wheeler ended up having success out in Winnipeg and while the Jets have not yet made the playoffs, he has still been absolutely dynamite alongside Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little. However, Wheeler’s time in Boston was marred by slipping play and lackluster performance in the playoffs. That has to be definitely something kept in mind about Wheeler, but it would not hurt lining him up alongside Loui Erikkson and Patrice Bergeron and maybe given a more stronger two-way role with the net front presence that line needs. He was recently signed to a 6 year $33.6 mil contract at the start of the 2013-14 season so it’s obvious that Winnipeg has no plans on moving Wheeler, but that doesn’t mean that the Bruins can’t work something out in order to get him if they really wanted to. Kelly and Marchand combined add up to 30M (18M = Marchand, 12M = Kelly) so there has to be something else moved with those two to Winnipeg if the Bruins really wanted to get Wheeler. What the other piece would be? Is unknown. I don’t see any other pieces worth moving right now and that’s what makes this trade a very big stretch.
One that is no so much a stretch is Mikkel Boedker from Phoenix. Bodeker is currently on a 2 year 5.1 million dollar contract which would be much easier for the Bruins to take on. This would be a far more sensible move for the Boston Bruins than moving a ton of pieces for Wheeler. Boedker would work tremendously well alongside Bergeron and Erikkson. He has had two 10+ goal seasons and in the 2011-12 playoffs scored 8 points in 14 games (4-4). For this trade to work, the Bruins would probably have to move Marchand and add in another piece to bring back with Boedker. This is another situation where that piece could be anything, but Phoenix can add in 8+ million at the trade deadline which would mean the Bruins could move just Marchand if they wanted to.
Now, if the Bruins were to move Marchand for Boedker, where does that leave Kelly? The Bruins could shop him around for a late pick or a “down and out” prospect for Providence to help them along. That would open up the space for both Boedker and Sullivan to come into the team. The one thing I have not discussed about Sullivan was his previous years cap hit. Sullivan played the 2013-14 season on a 1 year 2.6 million dollar contract. While that certainly is cheap, it is a bit too much for a guy who would be coming in directly as a grinder and a back end depth man. But, with the lowball contracts that were handed out from teams to veteran players and in some cases even younger players (the 1 million dollar contract to Mason Raymond is an example of the latter) there should be no issue for the Bruins to add on Sullivan.
All of this is just speculation and ideas. None of this is set in stone and if the Bruins don’t make a move, they don’t make a move. There are still plenty of other assets besides Sullivan, Wheeler, and Boedker that the Bruins could tack on and teams like Colorado, Nashville, and Calgary with open cap space for trading. And after Marchand’s recent uplift in his play, who knows if the Bruins would even still be willing to move him.
There is a long stretch a head for the trade deadline and a lot of speculation to be made. What will the Bruins do? We will just have to wait and find out.
(All player stats provided by HockeyDB and cap stats provided by CapGeek)