Boston Bruins: Trade Targets Deep Into Offseason

Jul 29, 2015; Foxboro, MA, USA; Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and president Cam Neely and former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque during a press conference for the Winter Classic hockey game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 29, 2015; Foxboro, MA, USA; Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and president Cam Neely and former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque during a press conference for the Winter Classic hockey game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Bruins: The B’s can use patience and cap constraints around the league to improve their blue line.

As the temperature outside keeps climbing, the buzz and activity of the 2016 NHL Offseason has cooled to “Manitoba at Christmas” levels. For Bruins fans waiting for a Top-4 defenseman to waltz into Beantown, it has been vexing, to say the least. With seven defensemen under contract following Colin Miller and Joe Morrow’s re-signing, the Bruins blue line appears to be set….for now.

If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that teams with a need and cap flexibility can play the waiting game right up to the beginning of the regular season in an attempt to capitalize on another franchise’s financial woes. Let’s examine how the Bruins can be this offseason’s opportunists.

Heading into the ’14-15 season, the New York Islanders were a franchise largely in disarray, having qualified for the playoffs just once in a span of seven seasons. Despite having a franchise center in John Tavares and several young, talented forwards, the team’s defensive deficiencies regularly kept them from being a threat to anyone in the top half of the league. The calendar had switched over to October, the free agency frenzy had all died down, and Garth Snow appeared to be on a one way trip to the unemployment line, as his team’s blue line was once again a perfect example of patchwork. But then October 4th arrived…

In a span of hours, Snow was able to acquire Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy from Boston and Chicago, as the Stanley Cup Finalists from two years prior struggled to get underneath the cap set for the ’14-’15 Season. Both rearguards played pivotal roles in their respective teams’ run to the Final, so one would have to assume the cost was steep, right?


In total, the Isles surrendered two 2nd round picks, Ville Pokka, TJ Brennan, and Anders Nilsson, and in return received two bona fide top-four defensemen. The Islanders have made the playoffs each of the past two seasons, even winning a series for the first time since Bill Clinton’s first year in office.

With Kevin Shattenkirk‘s worth being akin to Nick Lidstrom’s (apparently), and Anaheim being a budget team that doesn’t necessarily NEED to move Cam Fowler, the Bruins will likely have to look elsewhere should they wish to improve their blue line by the time the puck drops on the ’16-’17 Season. Here are your candidates:

Trevor Daley

As things currently stand, the Penguins are $2.3 Million over the $73 Million Cap ceiling, meaning someone has to go. It has been widely speculated that Marc Andre Fleury would be the guy, given Matt Murray‘s fantastic run to the Cup, but does Pittsburgh really want to go with just Murray shouldering the burden between the pipes? Remember Andrew “Hamburglar” Hammond’s run toward the end of the 2015 Season? He looked like the second coming of Ken Dryden before crashing back to earth last season with a 2.65 GAA and a .914 SV percentage.

Murray is the presumed starter next year, but with Pittsburgh’s Cup window still wide open, maintaining stability between the pipes should Murray regress will be of extreme importance. And with the Penguins owning a glut of young defensemen, moving a player like Daley makes more sense.

Daley has one year left on his contract that carries an AAV of $3.3 Million. He’s a mobile, veteran puck mover who can really push the pace and send tape-to-tape outlet passes. Pittsburgh’s transition game was the talk of the playoffs last year, and the 32 year old Daley was a main component of the system. Despite being left-handed, he regularly plays on his off-wing, and is even on record as saying he prefers to play on the right side (where the B’s DESPERATELY need help).

With just one year remaining on his deal (which does carry a modified NTC meaning he would need to approve of the deal), he could be a fantastic stop-gap for the B’s as they wait for their crop of talented youngsters to get a little more seasoning. And with Pittsburgh desperately needing to shed salary, he could be acquired for futures only, be they in the form of prospects or picks.

Mark Streit

Like Daley, Mark Streit is a lefty who regularly patrols the right side of the ice. Also like Trevor Daley, Streit is a a swift-skating puck mover with one year left on his contract ($5.25 Million AAV). Capable of quarterbacking a power play and possessing a fantastic shot from the point, Streit possesses all of the traits deemed desirable in a defenseman in the new NHL….aside from his 38 years on Earth. Last season he scored at a rate of 30 points per 82 games, and is just one season removed from a 52 point campaign.

While Philly would much rather rid themselves of Andrew MacDonald and his $5 Million cap hit, no one in their right mind will acquire that albatross of a contract. With highly touted prospects Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim NHL ready, along with Shayne Gostisbehere‘s arrival (as well as having fellow puck mover Michael Del Zotto on roster), the Flyers would certainly listen to offers for the 38 year old Streit.

And while they don’t necessarily need to move Streit (Philly is currently $6.4 Million under the cap), Boston could make it worth their while with a small package based around young, NHL ready forwards (Jimmy Hayes, Seth Griffith, etc) to boost an offense that struggled mightily at times last season (including the playoffs).

Jason Garrison

More from Bruins News

Despite currently sitting roughly $8.5 Million under the cap, Tampa Bay is in trouble. Still needing to re-sign Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Nikita Nesterov (are the Lightning the new Detroit Red Wings?), they will not have the funds available to re-sign all three. Next season, new deals will be needed for Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, Ondrej Palat, and Andrej Sustr….such is the price of success.

Similarly to the situation in Pittsburgh, it has been surmised that the team’s starting goaltender (Ben Bishop) will be shipped out of town. While this may or may not take place, the fact remains that Ben Bishop’s departure alone won’t enable Stevie Y to get his young core locked up beyond next season, which brings me to Jason Garrison.

Despite having a down year offensively last season (11 points in 72 games), the Bruins could actually use this to their advantage. The 31 year old Garrison posted 30 points in each of his previous three full seasons, and the B’s could wind up buying low on a player whose team is in dire financial straits. Like Daley and Streit, Garrison is a lefty who regularly plays on the right side (as he did with Alex Edler in Vancouver). He brings a solid combination of size and speed, and is adept at moving the puck out of danger. He logs time on both PP and PK units, and brings seven years of NHL experience to the table. He will carry a cap hit of $4.6 Million for two more seasons…a price the Bruins can currently absorb, even without considering the fact that a corresponding move would likely occur (See:Adam McQuaid).

On top of what Garrison can bring to Boston, it would be nice to exact some revenge on Yzerman, and make up for the fleecing that was the Brett Connolly trade. Given Tampa’s financial situation, Garrison could be acquired for futures alone…perhaps only a 2nd round pick.

While none of these moves would turn the Bruins into the powerhouse franchise they recently were, they would all be solid additions for a franchise that has missed the playoffs on the last day of the season two years in a row. As fans, we were fortunate to watch the Bruins field a legitimate Cup Contender from 2008-2014.

With the Bruins having recently been mired in hockey purgatory, the aforementioned moves would be relatively cost-effective, short-term, and ample enough to get the B’s over the hurdle and into the playoff picture, while buying their talented blue line prospects another year or two of development.

Next: Current State of Bruins' Blue Line

At the end of the day, that’s really all we can ask of Sweeney and Co. at this juncture. Well, that, and signing that Vesey kid.