NHL wisdom says that If you're going to trade a key piece, then ideally you want him to go to a place where he can do you as little harm as possible for his new team.
It's why you usually see talk of star players being traded inter-conference rather than within them, and (with rare exceptions) DEFINITELY not within the division.
Boston to Anaheim is 2,976 miles. 44 hours non-stop by car, and a seven hour flight. If either team is looking to do a deal with the other here, then they probably couldn't follow the "send your players as far away as possible" wisdom much more strongly (well, except by trading with Vancouver, but that's...probably not going to provide any options any time soon).
When it comes to options for Don Sweeney, though, Anaheim has several possible targets when it comes to looking for a defensive piece. More importantly, many of those options are both a) very good players and b) potentially priseable away from sunny California.
The Ducks currently have around $7 million in cap space. The trouble is, they also have to re-sign not one, but two defencemen looking for big paydays in Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen, as well as starting goalie Fredrik Andersen (another bargain who'll be looking for his actual worth). Oh yeah...and top-six F Rickard Rakell. There's also recent acquisition David Perron, who may fancy his chances of staying in Anaheim unless Bob Murray wants to admit they've basically given away Carl Hagelin for very little.
That's going to swallow up their cap-space right quick.
Something is likely going to have to give...especially with the Ducks in WIN NOW mode this season...and that opens the window. Particularly if the Bruins are willing to trade Loui Eriksson.
OPTION 1: HAMPUS LINDHOLM
The Swede is probably the gold-standard here. Helsingborg's finest Hampus Lindholm is a 6'2 and 205lb prodigy who is equally capable on both sides of the puck and has quickly become a star. He's mobile, strong and has the hockey sense of someone twice his age.
Did we mention he's only 22, too? This guy is a potential franchise cornerstone sitting in California, already playing superbly and with evidence that he'll only get better still.
He's also coming to the end of his entry-level contract-which means he's likely in line for a big pay-rise...just like several others in the Ducks defensive system. With the Ducks in "win-now" mode...this might tempt them to go for a big return. However, Lindholm is likely going to be the player the Ducks focus on most in terms of retaining...unless there's a mega offer in the works.
OPTION 2: SAMI VATANEN
This is a player who would likely make Boston fans very happy indeed. Solid in both ends despite being among the smaller cohort of NHL defensemen, Vatanen scored 37 points last year (including 12 goals) and is instantly one of the best defensemen on the Bruins blue-probably an instant top pair player. He's also only 24.
The issue here would be cap space once again, but with the Bruins strong up front, $4million of cap space opened up by losing Eriksson, another $3 million in Chris Kelly opening up next year also and Vatanen likely ready to settle somewhere - there might be room for negotiation here.
OPTION 3: SHEA THEODORE
This one, more than the other two, is the Bruins going long-term. Theodore is a NHL-ready prospect with two years remaining on his entry-level deal. His strengths include a superb two-way game and passing ability that could thread a needle. Whether the Ducks would WANT to move him (he's just waiting to step in on that Ducks blueline and would be the first player tapped to fill a hold if the Ducks decide to move one of the two above) is another question. But with raw potential more than proven NHL play, he might be a little bit cheaper than the other two. He'd certainly be the preferred option if the Bruins were looking to both strengthen their defense and make cap room.
MAKING THE DEAL
Let's not make any bones about this. Any conversation with Anaheim about any one of these three likely starts with the name "Loui Eriksson". The Ducks are looking for help on the wing and the Bruins can offer it. However, the question here is just how highly Bob Murray will value that help compared to Don Sweeney valuing one of the B's star forwards this season.
Eriksson for Lindholm/Vatanen straight up would be a joy, but that kind of trade only happens in the most confused of fantasy leagues...unless the Ducks are in a giving mood, that's likely not going to happen. Loui for Shea Theodore and prospects/picks is another deal the Bruins would likely snap the beaks off Bob Murray for, although it would likely signal more of a "rebuild" philosophy. It would certainly be a gamble on a Bruins team that could go still go for a decent run in the East if they decide to be buyers this deadline.
So then, we move into packages. At this point the Ducks have the cap space to absorb Eriksson easily, but will likely be looking for picks or prospects along with it in order to gain more than just a star rental. Particularly when you're looking at top-4 defensemen.
A big trade chip on Boston's part is that if Eriksson DOES head to California, he instantly becomes the Ducks' scoring leader right now with 45 points. That's going to be a strong negotiation chip if you're selling your second-best forward - and his value will likely only rise as NHL teams looking for "that last forward piece" get a little more frenzied as the deadline ticks nearer.
And nobody knows just how high the bidding might go.
The fact is, both Boston and Anaheim need what the other has to offer this deadline. The pieces are there, the potential willingness is there...
Somebody just needs to get the two teams in a room and make a deal. If they make the right one, it could be one the Bruins will be regarding as a key moment not just this season, but several years down the line, too.