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Tough Decisions: Trading for the Big Guys

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Gritty McToughersons are on the trading block, per several reports. Are any of them potential targets for the Bruins?

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

With less than a month 'til the trade deadline, many of us are expecting Peter Chiarelli to make an obvious Chiarelli-esque move. Need a Top 4 defenseman, or a Top 6 right wing? Nah, let's build our depth and grit and intangibles.

Bruins followers have been eyeing Evander Kane since forever, and with his recent scratches by the Winnipeg Fashion Police Jets, he's now rumored to become more available than ever by the deadline. Add on the usual suspects of Zack Kassian and Chris Stewart, and the recently rumored Chris Neil, and you have a plethora of bruising bodies that teams can't wait to get rid of. Is that rotary phone in your pants, Chia?

Let's look at the aforementioned trade pieces objectively first.

Player Age Cap Hit GP since 2013 G A Pts. FF% Pts60 PIM
W 35 $1.90 109 12 9 21 47.5 1.27 267
X 27 $4.15 112 24 20 44 42.1 1.64 165
Y 24 $1.75 99 16 19 35 52.2 1.65 158
Z 23 $5.25 100 29 34 63 51.8 1.89 122

As you can see, if you're looking for an upgrade to Reilly Smith or Loui Eriksson as a Top 6 forward, you should largely be looking elsewhere. Smith's Points60 is 1.78, and Loui's is 1.71 over the same span, and both have far better FF% numbers than anyone on this list. But maybe they want to find a solid 3rd liner, and scratch Pastrnak for a few games after burning the first year of his ELC! Surely, no one would put such an idea past Chiarelli and Julien.

It's fairly easy to see that Skater Z is the best bet for an offensive acquisition if the front office wanted to go that route. But his $5.25M salary would make him the 4th-highest-paid skater on the team, and his production hasn't necessarily met expectations. Second best could be Skater Ydespite the low point total and games played, he has the best FF%, and 2nd-best Points60 among the group, and is only $1.75M per year. Both Y and Z are young, and have room to grow and develop as they skate alongside David Krejci, Carl Soderberg, and God Patrice Bergeron.

Player X has the 2nd-highest goal total in the group, and also the 2nd-highest cap hit. He's on the low end in terms of Points60, despite first line minutes, but does project to give you 100 PIMs per season (#Grit). In this list, W stands for WHY?!?, as Player W is the oldest by far and the Bruins shouldn't even look his way. He's inept at offense, is as bad defensively, and only brings hits and penalty minutes to the table. The Bs in the past have brought in a veteran presence down the stretch, but this vet should be avoided at all costs.

If you couldn't tell from the numbers alone, here's the big reveal...

Player Team
W Chris Neil Ottawa Senators
X Chris Stewart Buffalo Sabres
Y Zack Kassian Vancouver Canucks
Z Evander Kane Winnipeg Jets

Pierre LeBrun and Bruce Garrioch are now reporting that several teams are interested in enforcer Chris Neil, and I hope to high heavens the Bruins aren't one of those teams. Not only would you be extending yourself for nothing more than a  borderline battering ram, but you'd be shedding cap space and assets to bring in a hit-first-think-later forward, when you have Bobby Robins sitting in Providence and can do that job and do it well. Admittedly, Neil would likely be a fan favorite for the Bruins, he'd bring a level of toughness to the team that has been missing since Shawn  Thornton's departure, and he'd force opposing teams to constantly get their heads on a swivel. But based on recent trends, hits and PIMs haven't led to hoisting the Cup come June, and a guy like Neil just isn't their biggest need right now.

Elsewhere in the Division, Chris Stewart's name has been lingering about the Garden for the vast majority of the season, and it hasn't gone away despite him clearly being nowhere near the player he was for a lone season in Colorado. He hasn't hit 20 goals since 2009-10, which is an eternity in the NHL, and now there are talks of Ryan Spooner heading to Buffalo as a part of the proposed package. If Peter is itching to make a move, please don't let it be for either of these guys, but especially #SayNoToStewart.

At the very least, the Bruins trading for a physical right wing would hopefully mean bringing in Zack Kassian or Evander Kane. Both are young, both are looking for consistent playing time, and both have positive Fenwick percentages. Kassian has been the lesser of the two, but also carries a much cheaper salary that the Bruins could take on easily. He's also only signed through next season, so long term concerns aren't there. He's a good passer, but lacks a fearful shot, and if Claude wants someone for all three zones, he'll be in for some frustrating nights as Little Z floats often and plays zero defense. I'm not fooled into thinking he's anything more (right now) than a poor, decrepit man's Milan Lucic, right down to the low Shots60 and idiotic penalties. But with what it would take to get him, and what it would cost out of pocket, he may be your best* option (*even if "best" in this case means not giving up too much).

The dream scenario would be the youngest of the bunch, Evander Kane. He's big and tough and yadda yadda yadda, but he's also got that scoring touch. He's a better goal-scorer and playmaker than both Smith and Eriksson (over the last two years), and his style would mesh with just about any line on the Bruins right now. And if you want a proven scorer on the top line, here's something that'll make you salivate: David Krejci does best alongside a winger that has 7.00+ Shots60, a la Nathan Horton and Jarome Iginla. Evander Kane's? Only 11.24, one of the highest in the league over that span. A big body, that shoots first skating on the top line? Sounds like a great fit.

But we all know with Peter's Ottawa connections, we'll be seeing Chris Neil skate alongside Chris Kelly come March 3rd.