Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke pulled off two huge trades on Sunday, acquiring defenseman Dion Phaneuf (in whom sources recently told NESN.com that the Bruins had interest) from Calgary and goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the Ducks. While these deals will clearly have immediate impacts on the teams involved, they may also open up the floodgates for more trades around the league.
To this point, the salary cap has hampered the flow of trades, but with the Olympic trade freeze on Feb. 13 looming, teams like the Bruins that are looking to improve could follow suit and make a deal this week or next — instead of waiting until closer to the NHL trade deadline on March 3.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is on record as saying he won't deal Toronto's 2010 first-round pick acquired in the Phil Kessel trade and that he also won't part with Tuukka Rask. So with that in mind, let's see what he may or may not be able to acquire with some of the names rumored to be on the trade market.
This week we will break down the realistic targets for the Bruins in terms of both necessity and salary-cap space. We'll consider those who may be targets at this point, those who will require creativity and cap-space maneuvering and then those who are simply going to be unattainable or make no sense for the Bruins.
Today, we look at those who make the most sense right now.
Ray Whitney, forward, Carolina Hurricanes
Whitney, a veteran winger, would be a great fit for a Bruins team that seems to need a bit more experience and a lot more scoring. If Whitney were to arrive right now, he'd already be tied with Marco Sturm as the Bruins' leading goal-scorer with 16. Sources claim the impending unrestricted free agent could be had for a prospect and a second-round pick — possibly even for one or the other. The Bruins have plenty of both to offer, and with Whitney's former teammate Mark Recchi already here, the Bruins may have enough to convince Whitney to waive his no-trade clause.
Aaron Ward, defenseman, Carolina Hurricanes
Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com reported last week that Ward, a former Bruins defenseman, wants to come back to Boston and is unhappy in Carolina. Ward, already waived and subsequently cleared through waivers earlier this season, could be had on the cheap. But a return engagement here could be very valuable to the Bruins as Ward was an important leader in the Bruins locker room and on the ice. Just as Whitney would bring Stanley Cup experience, so would Ward and a package deal involving both of them coming to Beantown would make a lot of sense for the Bruins. Ward is also an unrestricted free agent on July 1, so he would be just a minor cap hit.
Matt Cullen, forward, Carolina Hurricanes
Like Whitney and Ward, Cullen is another veteran with Stanley Cup experience who could come as a rental and help a team like the Bruins trying to find its way, hopefully righting the ship in time for a playoff run. Cullen could also work the point on the power play and is a versatile player who could help a struggling offense. The asking price wouldn't be too steep, either.
Raffi Torres, forward, Columbus Blue Jackets
Torres, an unrestricted free agent this summer, could be a nice rental for the Bruins as well. Just like Whitney, he would immediately become one of the leading goal-scorers with 16 already. Torres also brings some speed and grit, and the fading Blue Jackets may settle for a prospect or reasonable draft pick in return.
Peter Mueller, forward, Phoenix Coyotes
Mueller is member of the solid 2007-08 rookie class that faded after an impact rookie season. Word on the street is that Phoenix GM Don Maloney is willing to part with Mueller due to the Coyotes' strong youthful core, but the Bruins most likely would have to give up roster players for the 21-year old, who went eighth overall in the 2006 NHL draft. The Coyotes are having a great season and are in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference, so they appear to be buyers, not sellers. This wouldn't be a bad thing, though, as the Bruins would love to get better and younger while at the same time cutting some salary. They also have some young players who may just need a change of scenery. A roster player and high draft pick may do the job here.