It’s hard to believe the Bruins will shake things up at the NHL trade deadline amid a potentially historic season.
That’s not to say they couldn’t make slight upgrades or at least add some valuable depth.
The March 3 deadline is a little more than a month away. The NHL All-Star break is this weekend, and Boston’s “bye week” is tacked on to the break. After Wednesday’s game in Toronto, the B’s won’t take the ice again until Feb. 11.
It’s a perfect time to not only recharge but do some self-scouting and start preparing for the upcoming deadline. Given how good the Bruins have been in every area of the game, there aren’t pressing needs, but Don Sweeney and the front office are reportedly honed in on at least one area of the roster.
“Boston is also believed to be in the left-defense market,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote in his weekly 32 thoughts column. “Would not be surprised if they’ve checked in on Jakob Chychrun and Vladislav Gavrikov, among others.”
Friedman added: “They’ve got special chemistry, and tampering with that can be dangerous. But this is an absolute go-for-it year because you don’t know how long the group will be toghether.”
The obvious places to start with potential targets are Chychrun and Gavrikov. Chychrun has been a name connected to the Bruins for quite some time. Boston reportedly was among a handful of teams in the hunt for the Arizona blue liner last year. The Coyotes ultimately decided to keep the 24-year-old, but with little in the way of progress this season, they could revisit the option at the deadline. The Fourth Period recently reported there are at least six teams linked to the American-born D-man. He won’t come cheap, though. The reported asking price is three to four assets, including a first-round pick.
Chychrun is averaging more than 23 minutes per game, scoring five goals and adding 20 assists in just 34 games. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound defenseman is certainly the more offensive-minded player of the two.
Gavrikov, on the other hand, is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season and will likely come slightly cheaper. That being said, The Fourth Period reported Columbus wants a first-round pick for the rental. He’s a horse, averaging more than 22 minutes per game for the Blue Jackets with three goals and seven assists in 50 games. His possession numbers are pretty good, especially for a player taking nearly 63% of his even-strength zone starts in the defensive zone. He also has good size, standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 213 pounds.
Friedman also noted the Chicago Blackhawks have heard from teams about their defense corps. If the Bruins are prioritizing the left side, veteran Jack Johnson — a free agent after this season — could be an option. Caleb Jones also checks that same box and could be an option, too. The Blackhawks are an intriguing team heading toward the deadline in general, but they could be a solid trade partner for the Bruins. If Boston is open to a shake-up, some sort of package involving Max Domi and a defenseman would certainly bolster key areas, not to mention the lingering possibility the Blackhawks could move Patrick Kane and/or Jonathan Toews.
With the deadline rapidly approaching, and the trade season already underway with the Bo Horvat trade, these sorts of rumors should intensify soon.