It's a strange thing, the trade deadline.
Some players ride a hype machine for all they're worth to be traded for a value far greater than they could expect at any time of the year (we're looking at you, Kris Russell) - others are traded for probably their fair value (we're looking at you, too, Dan Hamhuis).
And some are absolute bargains, hidden away behind the hype of top players and contract extension talks - players that simply slip through the net because nobody takes the time to look at them.
One such player is Ottawa's Patrick Wiercioch.
The 25 year-old from Burnaby, BC has quietly developed into a very useful player seemingly unnoticed by anybody outside Ottawa. Drafted as a mobile, puck-moving defenseman with size, he's settled into a consistent role with the Sens on a cap-hit of $2 million a year, and is due to hit UFA status this year without expecting a significant raise.
He's not been among the conversation of top defensive assets at the deadline-latest talk sees him offered around as a package along with prospect forward Shane Prince for a 2nd and 3rd round pick - a price the Bruins could easily afford.
But is it a price that's worth it? Well, here he is compared to rumored B's trade target and deadline media darling defenseman Kris Russell (who let's not forget is older and likely to be more expensive both now and in the future.
There's no contest here whatsoever. Over the past three years Wiercioch has blown Russell into the weeds in every statistical category. He's younger, cheaper and more productive despite receiving FAR less icetime. He's playing defense at a top-pair level and has been consistently while also producing offensively in a way Russell can only dream of.
But there's more. Here's Wiercioch compared to Dan Hamhuis, who we've already argued is a ridiculously better option than Russell and, again, one of the media darlings this deadline.
Look at that. It's there in black and white (well, blue and white, actually, but you get the idea). Whilst playing limited minutes on far less icetime Wiercioch has been performing at a level higher than a premier top-2 defenseman given time on both the PK and PP-time which the Senator has simply not had. He's $2.5 million a year CHEAPER than Hamhuis, eight years younger and not likely to expect a significant raise this off season.
So...what we have here is a big, mobile defenseman who can contribute effectively at both ends, is not likely to significantly hit the B's cap even if they attempt to resign him in the off season, is BEGGING for a larger role to match his level of play, and is going cheap.
But there's even more here.
Remember we mentioned earlier that the Sens were offering Wiercioch around as a package? The player they're packaging him with is Shane Prince.
Prince is a versatile forward who can play any forward position. He's fast and skilled with a nose for the net and a love of either playmaking or scoring. At 5'10 and 180lbs he's not exactly a colossus, but his hockey smarts and skills more than make up for it.
He's an RFA this year, with a current cap hit of just under $800,000 a year. This year in the NHL, he's scored 3+9 while spending the majority of the time on the 4th line-but more importantly, he's torn up the AHL the past few seasons with 20+ goals every year.
Even more importantly, he's 23, and cost-controlled. The price of adding him would be adding a 3rd rounder to the deal for Wiercioch.
So what we're looking at here is the B's trading two picks in a year where they have many, for a vastly under-rated defenseman and a hot winger prospect who is arguably the best in the Sens farm system.
More importantly, they don't have to move Loui Eriksson immediately to do so.
If we referred to trading or Hamhuis as a deal that the B's couldn't really lose this off-season, then this deal is one that could see them hit an absolute jackpot without having to wager a huge amount to do it. In fact, the price is something that they'll hardly miss.
They should be on the phone to Ottawa. Right now. To do anything else is to throw away a golden opportunity for a truly monstrous bargain.