Boston Bruins: The Cost Of Trading For Cam Fowler


John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders on October 4th of 2014 for the Phildelphia Flyers and New York Islanders second round draft picks in the 2015 NHL draft. Fast forward six months and the Bruins missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Additionally, the New York Islanders made the playoffs for only the third time since the lockout season (2004-05). Other factors were involved such as a new goaltender in Jaroslav Halak, the addition of Nick Leddy, and a well-balanced attack on offense, but Boychuk being a member of their top defensive line was imperative to the Islanders success. The cost for a top-2 defenseman at the time cost two second round draft picks; the cost wasn’t high and the results were immediate. The Bruins weren’t finished trading away defensemen after Boychuk, however.

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  • On June 23rd of 2015, the Bruins traded away their future franchise-defenseman in Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for a first round pick – 15th overall, and two second round picks – 45th an 52nd overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. Hamilton was widely considered the heir-apparent to Zdeno Chara and a potential cornerstone for the Bruins in the grand scheme of things. Hamilton, standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing 212 pounds, totaled 42 points in 72 games for the Bruins last season, and was consistently improving in all aspects of the game. The cost for a top-2 defenseman should be significantly higher than what the Bruins received in their trades with the Islanders and the Flames, but the Bruins were being constrained with tough circumstances in both situations, and were desperate to make something happen.

    The Bruins were forced to move Boychuk due to cap space and Hamilton as a result of his unwillingness to sign a contract with Boston, which put the team in a situation of desperation. Considering the need to relieve cap-space in the situation of Boychuk, or the potential fear of an offersheet for Hamilton, the Bruins were in a situation where they may have panicked, and got significantly less than they should have. With that being said, the Bruins are not the only team in the league who deals with situations of desperation, and it could be time for the Bruins to take advantage of this fact.

    One team that could be desperate to make something happen could be the Anaheim Ducks. A team that entered the season as one of the favourites to win the Stanley Cup in 2016, the Ducks have started the season with a 2-7-2 record in their first eleven games. To make matters worse, the Ducks were shutout five times in their first eight games which is unacceptable for any team, especially one that boasts a top line that includes Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The Ducks have only scored 14 goals so far this season, which equates to an average of 1.27 goals per game; both stats are by far the worst in the league. The Ducks have allowed 2.55 goals per game, which is good for 13th in the league, and attests for their strong defense and goaltending playing relatively well. The Ducks are clearly suffering most from a goal-scoring perspective, and could use some of their defensive depth to acquire some help up front.

    The Anaheim Ducks top-six defensemen include the following players:

    Left-handed shot:

    Hampus Lindholm
    Cam Fowler
    Simon Despres
    Clayton Stoner

    Right-handed shot:

    Kevin Bieksa
    Korbinian Holzer
    Sami Vatanen

    Additionally, the Ducks have a very valuable prospect in Shea Theodore who isn’t far from making the NHL roster.

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    It’s clear that the Ducks have a lot of depth on defense, and most notably on their left side. One name that could be intriguing to the Bruins who the Ducks might be willing to move for scoring is Cam Fowler. Signed until the 2017-18 season at a modest cap-hit of $4,000,000, Fowler could be a legitimate top-four defenseman for the Bruins. Standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing 196 pounds, Fowler has the size needed to command play in the defensive zone while also possessing the ability to join the rush and move the puck for a Bruins team that usually struggles in that department. The issue with acquiring a player like Fowler would be the fact that he would fit into the Bruins top-2 or top-4 on the right side as a left-handed shot which isn’t ideal, but wouldn’t be the end of the world.

    At only 23 years old, Cam Fowler has the potential to be a legitimate top defenseman in the NHL for years to come, which could help the Bruins who are currently relying heavily on the 38 year old Zdeno Chara as they have in years past. With seven points in eight games and very solid defensive play, Chara is still able to log meaningful minutes in the NHL, but it would be wise for the Bruins to give him help now rather than depending on one of the NHL’s oldest players to man the ship by himself. In addition to helping Chara in the present, his time is clearly coming to an end sooner than later, and the Bruins could utilize Cam Fowler as a replacement when that time inevitably comes. Fowler hasn’t been an elite point-scorer in the NHL from the blueline to this point in his career, posting roughly 30 points per season, and reaching 40 points in his first season, but his two-way ability should not be diminished based on that fact. As appealing as Fowler might be, the cost to acquire such a player will ultimately determine whether or not the Bruins could, or should, pursue a trade.

    Considering Anaheim is goal-starved, there is one logical option for the Bruins to trade who could help them immediately. Loui Eriksson, arguably the Bruins best forward behind only David Krejci, is on an expiring contract and could be deemed expendable based on the Bruins current surge of offense. The current forward configuration is as follows:

    Loui ErikssonDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
    Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronBrett Connolly
    Matt BeleskeyRyan SpoonerJimmy Hayes
    Chris Kelly – Jonas Kemppainen – Zac Rinaldo / Tyler Randell

    If the Bruins traded Eriksson, a few internal replacements for the lineup would be as follows:

    Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
    Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronBrett Connolly
    Chris KellyRyan SpoonerJimmy Hayes
    Zac Rinaldo – Jonas Kemppainen –  Tyler Randell

    Matt Beleskey would be the clear player who would be in line for a promotion to the top line once again. The third line would likely see Chris Kelly shift up in the lineup, although a player like Seth Griffith or Alexander Khokhlachev could also see some time as a call-up to determine whether or not they are ready for full-time NHL playing time.

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    The Bruins could certainly get away with trading Loui Eriksson, even though signing him to an extension might also be an option. The Ducks are currently without picks in the second round and fifth round of the 2016 draft, and the Bruins Bruins could take advantage of having two picks in both of those rounds. The Bruins currently hold the Oilers and the Islanders second round draft picks in 2016 as well as their own, and the Wild’s fifth round draft picks in 2016. The Bruins could also request a player to fill in on their own third line such as Jiri Sekac who possesses the speed that would be ideal to help Ryan Spooner reach his full potential.

    The trade could looks as follows: *Note: this trade is purely speculative based on the assumption the Anaheim might be desperate and is not indicative of anything imminent

    Bruins acquire:

    Cam Fowler
    Jiri Sekac
    Nick Sorensen

    Ducks acquire:

    Loui Eriksson
    Oilers Second Round Draft Pick 2016
    Islanders Second Round Draft Pick 2016
    Bruins Fifth Round Pick 2016

    While the Bruins are trading away one of their best players in Loui Eriksson, his expiring contract must be factored in. The Bruins currently hold two first round draft picks in the 2016 draft which gives them the freedom to move both of their second round draft picks. On the flip side of things, the Bruins would be acquiring a top pairing defenseman with term at a very reasonable cap hit, a third line left winger in Jiri Sekac who is still developing and is under contract for the remainders of the 2015-16 season with a cap hit of $925,000, and a two-way prospect in Nick Sorensen who has good size and a right-handed shot.

    The Ducks will be looking at extending the contracts of Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm for the 2016-17 season and beyond, and after already signing Kevin Bieksa and Simon Despres to extensions and also having Clayton Stoner under contract until the 2017-18 season, it seems the Ducks will need to start spreading out their cap space more evenly around their forwards to keep up with their defense, which would involve clearing some cap space on their back-end first and foremost.

    What do you think? Should the Bruins trade for Cam Fowler and if so, what should they trade to acquire him? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet your ideas to me @BShareCohen

    Follow Brandon Share-Cohen on Twitter @BShareCohen to discuss all things Bruins and sports