The rumor mill keeps on churning out, well, rumors.
One of the latest? Brandon Saad being linked to the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins reportedly were one of the teams to swing and miss on Blake Coleman, the now-Tampa Bay Lightning winger who was sent to the Sunshine State earlier this week from the New Jersey Devils.
But as the Bruins appear to set their sights on top/middle six winger help, it seems their attention could be turning to Saad, the veteran Chicago Blackhawks winger.
Both TSN’s Bob McKenzie and SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman floated Saad as a possible target for the Bruins this week.
From McKenzie on NBC’s “Our Line Starts” podcast:
“If (the Blackhawks) want to keep going down that road (of a soft rebuild), they need more bullets. So they need more young players, prospects or they need more draft picks. Brandon Saad’s got a year left on his deal at $6 million and I’m curious, I would imagine that teams, as we talked about before, the Boston Bruins, the Colorado Avalanche, might those teams be more inclined to give up something of significance for a guy who’s got a year left on his deal that’s won a Cup? And he was injured earlier in the season but he’s put up some decent numbers. … I don’t know how committed Chicago is to necessarily trading him, but I’ve got to believe they’re getting calls on him and I’ve got to believe they’re going to listen. Especially with prices being what they are, running on the high side, if Chicago could add a really good prospect and a really good draft pick, might that be something that would happen?”
From Friedman on his podcast, “31 Thoughts.”
“If it’s (Chris) Kreider, (Kyle) Palmieri or Brandon Saad, they might consider (parting with a first-round pick).”
So, just how good of a fit would the 27-year-old be? A pretty good one.
While he is a left shot, something that would force someone to their off side, he can play up and down the lineup. Saad’s a solid two-way player that brings some defensive ability to any line, and he has a nice finishing touch on the offensive end. Despite injuries hampering his season in late December/early January, he’s still posted 18 goals and 10 assists in 48 games. Plus, health typically has not been an issue for him, as he’s played in at least 78 games every campaign since 2013. Chicago uses him on both special teams units as well, so that would give B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy another viable option on the power play or penalty kill.
From a pure hockey perspective, Saad makes a lot of sense. Even in terms of intangibles it’s a good fit, seeing as he’s a two-time Stanley Cup champ that played in every game during the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup runs in 2013 and 2015 (he has a total of 72 postseason appearances to his name).
But beyond that is where things get dicey.
For one, the price to get him probably would be steep. He has term on his contract, so he wouldn’t be a pure rental, something that always drives up the cost. And the Blackhawks aren’t in a position where they necessarily need to move him, so one has to think they won’t just force a deal. Plus, as McKenzie alluded to, they need young talent, regardless of if that comes in the form of draft picks or prospects. As such, it’s probably going to take a not insignificant haul to pry Saad away since Chicago has most of the leverage.
Then, there’s the financial aspect. Saad’s current deal carries a $6 million cap hit this season and next. While his prorated salary means the Bruins might be able to do a little gymnastics to shoehorn him in under the cap this year, it would make their upcoming offseason much more challenging with him still on the books. Not ideal for a team that has UFAs in Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara and Jaroslav Halak to take care of, in addition to RFAs in Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk. The Bruins could try to get the Blackhawks to retain some money or take on one of Boston’s heftier contracts, but the Bruins would have to make it worth Chicago’s while, and that ultimately might make the deal less palatable for the Bruins.
There’s no question a player like Saad is what the Bruins would benefit from acquiring ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. But the likely price and the contract he carries makes it seem unlikely a deal could get done.
Of course, stranger things have happened.