(Disclaimer: We all like playing Armchair GM. The majority of these aren't pulled from speculation or reports, but from expiring contracts that are somewhat affordable, for players on mediocre teams.)
If Chiarelli makes a trade during the season, it is largely for a rental player over the age of 32. He gave us two fantastic months of Jarmoir Jagr in a black & gold sweater. He brought back Brian Rolston. He acquired Joe Corvo, Greg Zanon, Mike Mottau, and finally devilered Tomas Kaberle to Boston. The last in-season trade for a true depth piece that wasn't a 30-year-old rental was Dennis Seidenberg (29 at the time) from Florida in 2010.
So this year, when the Bruins are stacked with young & hungry talent on both offense and defense, the odds on favorite for a Chiarelli move goes to a seasoned skater to save the season.
Top 6 Veteran UFA Forwards
|M. St. Louis
This list is definitely Metropolitan-heavy, but that's because that division is having a rough year. Both the Rangers and Devils are already 10 points behind the New York Islanders, despite repping the East in the Finals two out of the last three years. New Jersey has a ton of veteran talent, and not a lot of wins. If they can't get it turned around quickly, I wouldn't be surprised if Michael Ryder and Jaromir Jagr were shopped around. Jagr is still producing because he is seemingly indestructible, but I would really like the Bruins to take a look at Ryder. He spent much of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons skating alongside either David Krejci or Milan Lucic, and they were all on the same line for 16 games. Even if he gets slotted on the third line, he would be a perfect shoot-first option next to Carl & Carl.
Across the water from Jersey sits Martin St. Louis. Before you say how unrealistic this his, keep in mind that the Bruins tried to get Jarome Iginla in 2012-13. They will trade for top-line talent if it's made available. And as seen last year, the Rangers aren't afraid of moving their core (Ryan Callahan) out for a good return. It might take a high draft pick and current roster piece (if only to clear cap space), but if the Rangers don't improve in the standings over the next couple months, St. Louis skating on Krejci's right side isn't as far-fetched as it sounded back in October.
Joel Ward ended the Bruins' season in 2012, and since has bloomed into a heavy force of a player. With the Caps currently holding onto the 3rd seed in the Met, this is probably the least likely piece to be had. But if the Bruins are serious about bringing in a bruiser on the wing with a knack for the net, #SayNoToStewart and make a push for Ward.
Out West, there's a pile of talent going to waste on terrible teams. Danny Briere has certainly lost a step, but could be a decent depth piece (see Bruins-Canadiens series, May 2014). Boston would likely migrate him to a wing, playing next to either Gregory Campbell or Chris Kelly. Neither would pair for a lot of skill, but a Paille-Briere line would give the Bruins a little more speed in their depth. Meanwhile, Arizona has a couple upcoming UFAs north of $4M that could hit the market. Shane Doan is in decline, but still scored 20 goals last season. And Martin Erat had an abysmal year last season, but is on pace to have double-digit goals again this year after totaling just 8 over his last two. He's in the last year of his 7-year, $31.5M contract, and if the asking price for Doan is too much for Boston, Erat could be a boom-or-bust pickup before the deadline.
Top 6 Veteran UFA Defencemen
|Player||2013-14 CF%||Age||Cap Hit|
Unlike the forward group mentioned above, the veteran defenseman who could or would be available doesn't have much in the way of a game-changing talent. Other options exist, but are either far too expensive (Brian Campbell & Mike Green), or were just acquired by teams in contention (Sergei Gonchar & Christian Ehrhoff). So we're left with expensive talents that might be available, but are simply overpaid.
Lubomir Visnovsky is having another good year with the Islanders at the age of 38, but with a short bench it's more likely that New York will hold onto him for his skill on the powerplay. Scott Hannan of the Sharks is on his fourth 1-year/$1M deal in a row. He's not an integral piece of the Sharks blue line, but he's at least steady, and with little to prove and a cheap cap hit, he sounds like a perfect Chiarelli-type depth move.
Jan Hejda and John-Michael Liles are both on dwindling teams at this point, and neither looks to right the course any time soon. JML has another year left after this one, making his price high both for a trade, and for the cap. It's even higher because Carolina is in no rush to deal him until the offer is just right, since they have and will be terrible all season. While Hejda is in his last year with the 'Avs and makes about a half-million less. Only thing is, he's been below 50% in FenwickFor since 2010-11, and even then was only 51.1%.
Unlike the rest, Dan Boyle and Chris Phillips seem like pieces that are both attainable and worth extending yourself for. The Bruins are heavy on puck-moving defensemen with Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, and (when he's on his game and in the game) Matt Bartkowski. But Boyle has tons of experience, which is something you want heading into the postseason, and he's also a right shot, which the Bruins are low on. The Rangers are just realizing that replacing a defensive defenseman like Anton Stralman with a puck-moving defenseman isn't really working out. And the fact that they gave Boyle a two-year deal is key, because they are in the midst of trying to figure out if they should extend or trade pending UFA Marc Staal. If they opt to keep him, they'll need to shed some cap space, and boom. There's Dan Boyle's $4.5 cap hit. If New York needs to cut ties with Boyle for cash, the Bruins could jump.
Chis Phillips on the other hand isn't breaking the bank in Ottawa. But at $2.5 for the next season and a half, the Sens could get a serious return on a long-term rental. Phillips played under PC, and at his age and cost screams Chiarelli depth trade. His DZFO% has been hovering around 30% the last five years, and over the last two it's actually increased, so he's shown he's trustworthy in his own end. His contract runs through the end of the 2015-16, and he'll turn 38 before it's over, so it's a bit of a risk trusting he'll hold up. But the life-long Senator could be an option over the youth if Peter deals for defensive depth at the deadline.