This Bruins defensive prospect’s trade value is on the rise

There is a lot of talk surrounding the apparent rise of young Boston Bruins defenseman Urho Vaakanainen this season, especially as of late, and rightly so.

The B’s defensive prospect has made massive strides in his game the last few seasons — between reps in Providence, training camp and off-season preparation — because, right now, he looks like a pro in the first month of the new year.

So much so that his name, for the umpteenth time since 2020, has once again swirled in hypothetical trade deadline rumors per a recent article by Scott Roche of The Hockey Writers.

Vaakanainen’s trade stock has risen, now is the time to capitalize on a return for his value

Of course, while some are firmly set with the notion that the former 2017 draft pick is developing into a competent puck-moving, defenseman for the B’s, others feel that despite his heightened level of play as of late that he still lacks the physicality to be the answer for the left-side on the top pairing.

Earlier this week, on their new Pucks with Haggs podcast, Bruins Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty echoed that very issue (19:05-19:38), while co-host Jimmy Murphy touched on the B’s need to cash in on Vaakanainen’s rising value (19:39-20:14).

Currently, the 23-year old Finnish blue-liner has four points with a plus-3 rating in 11 games with the Bruins this season. His best showing at the NHL-level, by far, hence the praise from head coach Bruce Cassidy, teammates, the media and fans — like @aliciaadams1974 — alike.

With the NHL at a faster pace than ever, skating skill is at a premium, especially among defenseman

While the Joensuu, Finland native’s AHL numbers with the Providence Bruins do not jump off the page at you — 39 points (11 goals and 28 assists) in 118 games — his potentiality of a top-four ceiling yet remains high. Lest we forget, during his draft year, Vaakanainen drew comparisons to Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer for his “effortless” and “fluid” skating skill.

But regardless if that is still true, completely or otherwise, at 6-foot-1 and 200-pounds the young defenseman already mimics the Hall of Famer’s build and stature. And so now, what also remains to be seen is whether the Black-and-Gold will let the defensive prospect skate his way, like Niedermayer, to NHL relevancy. Or let it sting, like a bee, vis-à-vis Joe Thornton, Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin if he flourishes with another team following a trade.

Of course, if the latter option helps the Bruins land a top-two, left-shot defender who eats up tons of minutes and scores with regularity à la Jakob Chychrun then, quite frankly, so be it.