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Trade Talks: Pending Free Agent Forwards

Young, cheap, and short-term solutions for the front line. Who's out there that the Bruins can realistically pick up without blowing up the current roster?

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

(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.)

I've written two trade pieces before. Call me the Chia whisperer, 'cause both turned out to be correct (we still miss you, Johnny). But nevertheless, with a rash of injuries and a slumping team that barely has a handle on the final Wild Card spot in the East, PC has been on the prowl. Most notably, his last stop in Tampa last week that made several people revisit the Chris Stewart rumors (#SayNoToStewart).

But with the team lacking a bit of identity, and still up against the salary cap, cheap moves need to be made. We'll look at some realistic possibilities for who the Bruins could pick up (aka not Kelly for Eberle) that wouldn't cost them one of their true core pieces, and that wouldn't be "untouchable" on another team. Today's entry? Pending UFAs and RFAs over the next two seasons, age 32 and under.

Top 5 Pending UFAs - LW

Player 2013-14 Age Cap Hit
D. Perron 28-29-57 26 $3.812
A. Ladd 23-31-54 28 $4.400
N. Foligno 18-21-39 27 $3.083
J. McGinn 19-19-38 26 $2.950
M. Beleskey 9-15-24 26 $1.350

David Perron and Nick Foligno have one thing in common: both of their teams are plummeting.  One year after taking Pittsburgh to six games in the ECQF, the Blue Jackets are giving up leads to the hobbled Bruins, and sit just one point out of last place in the league. Jamie McGinn's Avalanche aren't too far ahead either, sitting at 9-12-6 with a -17 goal differential.

Andrew Ladd's Jets started hot out of the gate, but with the Sharks and Wild nipping at their heels, are one injury away from falling out of the playoffs. Winny might not be a true seller until the end of February, unlike Edmonton and Columbus. But the possibility is there for a deadline acquisition if the Bruins still aren't running on all cylinders.

The only true non-seller in this list is Anaheim, and Matt Beleskey has had a great start to the year. Unlike the other left wingers, it would take a good return for the Ducks to give him up, especially at his current salary. But if the Bruins can give them someone they believe will get them past the Kings and Blackhawks, they might bite.

Top 5 Pending UFAs - C

Cap Hit
F. Nielsen 25-33-58 30 $2.750
A. Vermette 24-21-45 32 $3.750
A. Anisimov
J. Stoll
B. Sutter

The Bruins aren't really in need of a center, especially one that's a pending UFA--King Carl is already filling that role quite nicely. But they could use a 20-goal scorer this season, and more than just Brad Marchand, who is the only player on pace for that mark. Frans Nielsen and Antoine Vermette are a little older than some of the other UFAs on this list, but are still valuable pieces, and Fransy's cap number makes him a steal. Anisimov is another Columbo that could get dumped if the Blue Jackets decide to sell off some pieces.

Jarrett Stoll and Brandon Sutter are low-end pieces on this list, but their cap numbers being what they are, could be acquired on the cheap. Stoll hasn't scored 20 goals in a season since 2010-11, but has playoff experience and two rings. And with LA's cap issues, they may opt to give him away from close to nothing. Sutter is a pricey version of Campbell at this point, but still has the ability for a 15-goal season.

Top 5 Pending UFAs - RW

Cap Hit
J. Voracek 23-39-62 25 $4.250
K. Versteeg 12-24-36 28 $4.400
D. Stafford 16-18-34
J. Tlusty
M. Grabner 12-14-26 27 $3.000

I would love Jake Voracek skating alongside Lucic and Krejci, especially with him on pace for a career year going far and away. This is only a pipe dream, with him making just $4.25M as a point-per-game player in Philly. But fingers crossed that the Flyers will sell high if the don't plan on re-signing him, since he could be a long-term rental through the end of the 2015-16 season. Drew Stafford is a huge human being, so if the Bruins are looking for size, he could be the real Buffalo right wing to acquire. The Bruins killer circa 2009 is pricey, but could be a depth piece.

Kris Versteeg has certainly lost a step after a couple injury-plagued seasons, but looks to be back in form this year, with 22 points in 23 games. He's a good depth piece in Chicago's system, but they may look to shed some cap space to make an even bigger move. Grabner is a former 20- and 30-goal scorer, but has fallen off recently. Still, he could be a depth addition from an Islanders team that looks ready to win now. Tlusty could be sold from the cellar-dwelling 'Canes, who are in the thick of the McDavid/Eichel tank-a-thon.

Top 5 Pending RFAs - LW

Cap Hit
M. Boedker 19-32-51 24 $2.550
C. Kreider 17-20-37 23 $2.475
J. Huberdeau 9-19-28 21
M. Calvert
J. Gaudreau

Two Boston College alum crack this list, if only for wishful thinking. Kreider had a slow start in NY, but last year showed improvement. Meanwhile in Calgary, Gaudreau has come alive early in his rookie year. The 4th rounder from 2011 has 21 points in 27 games played. Calgary could consider him a building block for the future, or could give him up for a veteran piece in order to win now (Johnny for Loui, straight up let's make it happeeeeeeeeen).

Meanwhile in Phoe... ahem, Arizona, Mikkel Boedker is looking like a nice piece. The only issue is he is an RFA as of next offseason, and more than a few teams would pony up a high draft pick for the 24-year-old, adding to Phoenix's already high draft position as they sit at 2nd-worst in the West.

Matt Calvert is a good, young piece who seems boom or bust, but might benefit from a winning team. The second half of that statement also applies to Jonathan Huberdeau, as the 3rd overall pick from 2011 has regressed since his rookie season. Hubs has some serious skill and would be a nightmare for other teams on the wing alongside a Krejci or Soderberg.

Top 5 Pending RFAs - C

Cap Hit
N. Kadri
B. Nelson
M. Granlund
B. Schenn
C. Eakin

Once again, centre isn't the main need for the Bruins. And I highly doubt the Bruins would extend themselves for Nazem Kadri. But they aren't strangers to playing the middlemen on the wing. Hell, half of their roster is made up of converted centres. That's why forwards like Brayden Schenn and Brock Nelson should be considered.

Schenn is on a Flyers team that is extremely top-heavy, but needs help on D and in net--a good landing spot for one of the MorTrotSky bunch. Nelson is having a breakout year on the Isle, and is reaching "untouchable" status with the New York. But Nelson is an RFA after this year, and fellow Islander Kyle Okposo hits that status after next. Unless they play on paying Tavares, Okposo and Nelson a hefty amount of cash, the Bruins could send some more defensive help their way.

If you want some more depth down the middle, and aren't a fan of Koko or Spooner, Dallas' Cody Eakin and the Wild's Mikael Granlund a couple of under-performing pending RFAs with a decent upside. But if you're asking me, I'm still leaning toward Spooner and New Khok.

Top 5 Pending RFAs - RW

Cap Hit
C. Atkinson 21-19-40 25 $1.150
Z. Kassian 14-15-29 23 $1.750
T. Toffoli
N. Yakupov
T. Jurco

Oh, Nail. You are a bust on a team of busts. 32 goals in 138 games. But you're also 21 years old. With Edmonton on a free-fall, and trade rumors circulating constantly, Nail could be a real steal out of Alberta. His high salary and low level of performance makes him a cheap get, even if he's only going to be an RFA come June. Kassian is another under-performing forward on the left coast, but he's half the cost, and is a bruising force when he's not taking a cheap shot. If the Bruins wanted to be a little heavier up front, he could be a good get.

Los Angeles has kept their team truly intact since 2011, but are facing heavy cap issues. Tyler Toffoli is looking like a very promising right shot, but could be a tough trade since his salary is so low. Another tough guy to grab would be Cam Atkinson. Along with RyJo, Cam is apart of the CBJ core. It would take a good package to pry Atkinson and his cheap salary out of a Ohio, as the team looks to be in the hunt for McDavid.