Implications at the Trade Deadline With the Expansion Draft Looming and Vegas Likely Getting the Chance to Make Trades and How It Affects the Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins have some decisions to make sooner than later. Assuming they head into the trade deadline this season with all of their current assets, they may have an extra trade partner at the trade deadline.
Before the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, the Vegas Golden Knights might get a chance to take part in the trade deadline this season. If Vegas pays the final installment of the $500 million fee for expansion by March 1, then they will be able to take part in trade negotiations with teams. The caveat to this is that they would not be allowed to trade for active roster players.
As Frank Seravalli highlighted on Twitter, the Golden Knights would be permitted to trade that includes draft picks, players in the junior leagues (CHL, college, etc.) who are non-active players or players who are out for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
Why Trade Assets to Vegas?
It’s not uncommon for teams to trade with incoming expansion franchises. The San Jose Sharks made trades with both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild ahead of their expansion draft to ensure that goaltender Evgeni Nabokov would not be selected in the draft. While teams are getting a chance to protect their players for this expansion draft, many teams will be forced to leave valuable talent unprotected.
For Vegas, getting additional prospects or draft picks will be invaluable as they could draft a similar player from another team that fills the role their looking for while gaining pieces for their future. In a salary cap-driven league, building for the present and the future are equally as important. By making trades to give teams extra protection, they would get a chance to bolster their future while still taking care of their present needs.
The first thing to look at are the contracts that the Bruins must protect.
- David Krejci – 30 – Center – $7.25 Million – UFA (2021)
- Patrice Bergeron – 31 – C – $6.875 Million UFA (2022)
- David Backes – 32 – Center – $6 million UFA (2021)
- Zdeno Chara – 39 – Defense – $4 million UFA (2018)
Per the Cap Friendly’s Expansion Draft tool, the Bruins have a few options. They could protect four more defensemen and a goalie, or one more forward, three more defensemen, and a goalie, or four more forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie.
Assuming the Bruins go the route of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie, though, here are the likely remaining protections:
- Brad Marchand – 28 – Left Wing – $6.125 Million UFA (2025)
- David Pastrnak – 20 – Right Wing – $925,000 RFA (2017)
- Ryan Spooner – 25 – Center – $925,000 – RFA (2017)
- Matt Beleskey – 28 – Left Wing – $3.8 Million – UFA (2020)
- Torey Krug – 25 – Defense – $5.25 Million – UFA (2020)
- Colin Miller – 24 – Defense – $1 Million – RFA (2018)
- Tuukka Rask – 29 – Goalie – $7 Million – UFA (2021)
With those protections, some notable names left unprotected would include Malcolm Subban, Jimmy Hayes, Riley Nash, Joe Morrow, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller. If the Bruins are considering any of those names – or others that are less notable but may be part of the team’s future plans that they think could be of interest to Vegas, then they could look to make a trade.
These projected protections also assume the Bruins don’t trade away players ahead of the trade deadline. Should they make a move prior to the expansion draft, they would clearly have a different set of protections to make.
Should the Bruins Make a Defensive Trade?
When looking at the remaining players that the Bruins would leave unprotected, they’re better off avoiding a trade with Vegas. While Joe Morrow and Malcolm Subban have potential and are former first round draft picks, they haven’t done enough in the NHL to require protection. A player like Riley Nash could be of interest to Vegas for his impressive underlying numbers, but the Bruins can find a replacement either within the organization or in free agency that could save them a draft pick or prospect.
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If the Bruins do feel like they need extra protection, they could also look at protecting Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller. The team is clearly hurting with defensive depth and losing one, or both of those players would severely hurt their depth even further. This isn’t to say that either player should be a priority on the team, but with such a shallow NHL-level talent pool and uncertainties on how ready some of their prospects will be by next season, the Bruins might be swayed into making a move for that extra protection.
The Bruins have a total of six draft picks this season.
- First-Round Draft Pick – Boston Bruins
- Second-Round Draft Pick – Edmonton Oilers
- Fourth-Round Draft Pick – Boston Bruins
- Sixth-Round Draft Pick – Boston Bruins
- Seventh-Round Draft Picks – Boston Bruins & Florida Panthers
With so few draft picks this season, the Bruins would be better off letting the Expansion Draft play out naturally without making a move for additional protection. With the line between building a contender now, and in the future as thin as it is, the team needs to be cautious with every move. Though they can trade away prospects rather than picks to gain additional protection, that still seems counter-productive to the goal of building a contender within the next few seasons.
Only time will tell what the Bruins do at the trade deadline. The expansion draft will play a big role in every team’s decisions this deadline, and protections will both be affected by and caused by trades on March 1. For the Bruins, finding the line between moves that are necessary and unnecessary will be important for the 2017-18 season, as well as future seasons.