The Boston Bruins are far from being a Stanley Cup contender, much to their dismay. However, they are in the midst of battling for a playoff spot and there's little doubt this team will do whatever it takes to ensure a top-eight seed come mid-April. For that to happen, holes on the roster will need to be addressed -- specifically on defense.
The burden to find a top-four defenseman falls on the shoulders of general manager Don Sweeney. The first-year general manager has been creative in the past -- his summer of roster reconstruction experienced both the highs and lows of trading. Sweeney will unlikely look to part ways with major pieces: high draft picks, top prospects, or the expiring contract of a Swedish winger named Loui Eriksson. Instead, Sweeney will have to get creative. He'll have to harbor the bargain bins of the NHL, looking for an undervalued player who can succeed in Boston. Which, frankly, is an incredibly difficult task; yet, it is also one that's possible.
No matter who the Bruins look to acquire, there will likely be some cap maneuvering. General Fanager predicts the Bruins trade deadline cap room to be somewhere near $4.25 million, likely a result of moving injured forward Chris Kelly to LTIR. At present, the B's have $2.051 million in cap space. Just so you know where they currently stand as I begin to ramble off a bunch of has-beens Sweeney could look to trade for.
Former Bruins general manager, Peter Chiarelli, currently employs two defensemen the Bruins should scout: Mark Fayne and Nikita Nikitin.
Fayne has a cap hit of $3.625 million and will be under contract through 2017-2018. The former New Jersey Devils d-man hasn't been a great fit in Edmonton: a common result for imported Oilers defensemen over the last 10 years.
|2013-2014||New Jersey Devils||72||1136:00||54.9||2.0|
Fayne is a capable mid-pairing defenseman. Even with his less-than-stellar numbers in Edmonton since his arrival last season -- 45.6 FF% and 49.3%, respectively -- he's still a capable enough defenseman at a relatively cheap cap-hit for a number three or four blueliner.
Fayne's fellow Oilers outcast, Nikitin, would require some moving pieces -- at least from a cap perspective. His $4.5 million cap hit would only last for the next couple of months, as his contract expires in July. Though, considering Edmonton waived him in October and that he's spent the majority of 2015-2016 with their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield, Edmonton would likely eat some money to part ways with what they consider to be overpaid baggage. A must if Boston were to seriously inquire about his services.
|2013-2014||Columbus Blue Jackets||66||987:21||48.9||-0.6|
Nikitin isn't much on the offensive-side of things, with his 32 points in 54 games during the 2011-2012 season appearing to be nothing more than a mirage.
The 29-year-old Russian has managed to appear in 7 games for Edmonton this season, performing well in his limited ice time: posting a 56.1 FF% and 1 assist. Yet, somehow these numbers weren't good enough for a mediocre team in the league's worst division, as Nikitin was demoted to Bakersfield, again, on January 1st.
Happy New Year!
If Philly Fades
If the Philadelphia Flyers cool off and fall out of the playoff picture, 33-year-old Evgeni Medvedev -- an unrestricted free agent after the season -- should be coveted. The likelihood of Philadelphia making such a nose-dive, however, is well oh look they employ Steve Mason so it'll probably happen.
A $3 million cap hit is manageable, and Philadelphia isn't likely to seek a major haul for their off-season KHL-plucking. Perhaps a prospect and a pick would suffice. Or not. I'm not an NHL general manager, what do I know?
Medvedev is the most Bruins-esque defensemen on this list: he's big, physical and hits like a truck, not to mention he's got a respectable offensive-upside as well. In 332 KHL games, the 6-foot-3-inch blueliner tallied 31 goals and 141 points.
Medvedev has been a respected member of Russia's national team as well, appearing in 35 World Championship games -- posting 18 points -- and was a member of the country's 2014 Olympic squad in Sochi.
Detroit's Extra Kindl
Jakub Kindl is a good NHL defensemen, so it's bizarre that the Detroit Red Wings placed him on waivers. It's even more bizarre that no one claimed him and he's now playing for Detroit's AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
|2015-2016||Detroit Red Wings||23||338:52||53.0||4.5|
|2014-2015||Detroit Red Wings||35||459:51||56.8||4.9|
|2013-2014||Detroit Red Wings||66||953:04||51.3||0.0|
Kindl carries with him a $2.4 million cap hit through 2016-2017. Not a bad price to pay for one-and-a-half years of mid-to-top pairing defense. Sign me up any day of the week.
Why Detroit has placed Kindl in the doghouse is truly puzzling. Perhaps Kindl is always yelling at, and throwing eggs at, elderly women? I mean, it's possible. Although, in this modern age of smartphones and hip teens twittering, I doubt he'd get away with it. Regardless, he's very talented and, like the rest, an upgrade over what the Bruins currently send out to "defend".