The hits keep coming in Boston.
With the news that Loui Eriksson is still likely to remain in Boston beyond Monday's trade deadline and Bruins management saying that they're actively looking for deals outside the Eriksson bubble, attention is turning to other players around the league, specifically the search for a top four player.
One of the most viable top-4 defensemen available on the market is the Vancouver Canucks' Dan Hamhuis - the former Nashville Predator is strongly linked with the exit door in BC and TSN's Darren Dreger thinks the Bruins might be interested:
The Boston Bruins have interest in Dan Hamhuis and at the moment, no reason to believe Hamhuis doesn't view Boston as an option.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 27, 2016
It's hard to gauge what the Canucks might be looking for in this deal - Hamhuis has a cap hit of $4.5 million ending this summer, wears a letter and is one of the top four in the Canucks' unit having played extensive time on both the PP and PK. On the face of it, he'd seem to be an ideal rental player for more teams than just the Bruins, and demand will likely be high.
However, any deal the Bruins make will have to be carefully considered. There is no doubt whatsoever that the upgrade for Boston's defense itself will be both significant and immediate - here, for example, is Hamhuis compared to current top-4 D in Boston Dennis Seidenberg, who is probably the most likely defenseman to move the other way if a roster player is involved.
As that chart shows, Hamhuis doesn't so much improve on Seidenberg as annihilate him in every category. That is not just an upgrade - that's a complete and utter revelation of a change, for only $500,000 more on the current cap hit.
However, the fact that the Canuck is an UFA this summer while Seidenberg still has term on his contract throws a wrinkle into the works if B's are thinking long-term...it may be a struggle to get Hamhuis re-signed beyond this year unless more moves are made in the summer. With Hamhuis being 33, any contract negotiations would have to be long and very robustly conducted to ensure the B's don't end up overpaying for a player and losing any advantage they might have gained.
In fact, it would likely actually benefit the B's more in the long term to trade for Hamhuis with the expectation of seeing him leave in the summer, or at least the risk of it. If he does leave, then the B's have freed themselves up $4 million of cap-space for free agency this year AND upgraded for the playoff run immeasurably.
Of course, there is a third fly in the ointment here - Kris Russell and the B's pursuit of him. We've already gone into great detail why this is a bad, bad move for B's, but just to cement it, let's directly compare Hamhuis and Russell, too.
Yeah. That's a no-brainer.
If the B's are making this trade with the intention of an immediate upgrade, then there is absolutely no question they should do it. None.
Any trade here should, if possible, involve Dennis Seidenberg going the other way. Seidenberg is a player known well by Vancouver's GM Jim Benning and has already said he'll waive his NMC in order to make a move possible-which makes it a little easier for the B's management to persuade the Canucks of a possible deal-so does the fact Seidenberg is a little cheaper, has term on his contract along with the mythical "veteran presence" GMs apparently like.
Hamhuis has his own NMC, which could put a spanner in the works...but assuming he is open to moving to Boston, any deal here is likely going to need the Bruins to throw in a little extra.
Luckily, as we tend to say so often this deadline - the picks and prospects that reside in a strong B's system should make this a lot easier - particularly one that allows the B's to move one of their stronger forward prospects to replace the Canucks' inexplicable trade of Hunter Shinkaruk - someone like Alex Khoklachev would be ideal here. The B's could even throw Kevan Miller into the pot too & promote Colin Miller from Providence to fill the resulting hole.
The more you look at any possible deal here, the more it's hard to see a downside. The only one here may come in the summer with the difficulty of negotiations-the B's will have to bear in mind going in that if they wish to retain Hamhuis, then it will have to be for reasonable money on a relatively shorter-term contract.
However, even if they don't manage to do so, they have gained $4,5 million of cap-space for this FA and an asset that they are far more likely to be able to flip come draft time than what they have right now when looking for a longer term prospect. Certainly, he'll give them a much stronger card to play when looking for long-term defensive strength than many of the current top six. That incentive alone makes adding a prospect like Khoklachev along with Seidenberg into a deal worth it, both now and in the future.
If the B's are serious about being buyers this deadline and improving their team both in the short and long term, they should be looking very closely at Dan Hamhuis. A deal of roster D (Dennis Seidenberg) plus high prospect (Alex Khoklachev), possibly plus Kevan Miller would be tricky for the Canucks to avoid considering in their rebuild state.
He provides an immediate upgrade over the vast majority of B's D, steadies the blue line for a relatively cheap cost and It doesn't matter whether he stays or goes after the season...if the right deal gets made, the Bruins benefit either way.
There is no question - if the B's are serious about retaining Loui Eriksson and making even an attempt at a run this playoff season, then Hamhuis is one of the best options out there - as long as the price is right.