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Why (and why not) Bruins players might be traded for defense

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With the defense mostly the same from last year's playoff miss, why should and should not certain players be traded for the defense of tomorrow

Detroit Red Wings v Boston Bruins
David Krejci and Ryan Spooner - two prime assets to help the Bruins defense
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Free agency has come and gone, and the Bruins watched Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski, Keith Yandle, and perhaps every attractive defenseman snapped up either via rights trades, or in the first few days of free agency. As a result, the Bruins’ options to add a proven upgrade to a defense that last year ranked 23rd in unblocked shots against per 60 minutes, and 21st in shots against per 60 minutes (Corsica), have been effectively limited to a trade.

However, to get an impact defender via trade, the Bruins would necessarily have to give up something of value. Let's take a look at Boston’s biggest and most likely trade chips to help move Kevan Miller off of the top pairing.

David Krejci:

The Case For:

As a perennial top 30 center, players with Krejci's playmaking pedigree can fetch a pretty penny. Averaging .76 points per game over his 10 year career, including solid powerplay skills, should make almost every team want to acquire him in a vacuum. If a team needs a player able to make his linemates put up more points, they can do far worse than number 46.

The Case Against:

However, Krejci is 30 years old, and signed at a somewhat prohibitive $7.25 million per year until 2021. Speculations of a Krejci-for-Shattenkirk swap don't make much sense, and here’s why: the main reason St. Louis is rumored to be shopping him is because they won't be able to afford his next contract at the end of next year, rumored to be around, say, $7.25 million per year, until at least 2021. Krejci is also currently injured, and will miss the World Cup Of Hockey due to a hip injury suffered towards the end of last season.

Ryan Spooner:

The Case For:

Adding David Backes in the offseason led to much speculation that he could push Spooner to the wing, although the situation will likely be very fluid. Hampus Lindholm and Jacob Trouba remain unsigned and still waiting for an offer sheet. With Backes in the fold, trading Spooner along with some sweeteners to get a true top-pairing defenseman, or at the very least a top-four defenseman, would allow Backes to act as a bridge as the Bruins’ numerous center prospects continue to develop. Austin Czarnik and Danton Heinen are considered the closest to those roles, with Alexander Khokhlachev having moved on to the KHL.

The Case Against:

Cheap, productive, middle-six forwards are just what the Bruins need right now to help offset the dead money from the Seidenberg buyout, as well as their marginal overpays and the current glut of bottom-pairing defensemen. Spooner has not yet proven that he can drive play at even strength, without which he won’t be a target for a top-six role to potential trade partners.

David Backes:

The Case For:

Currently, David Backes remains solid as a top-six option. Over the past three years, he has scored like a lower-end first liner at five on five, and slightly better on the powerplay. His higher than average minutes played allowed him to put up first line point totals in all situations.

The Case Against:

The Bruins literally just signed him. No other team beat the Bruins’ offer. Why would a team give up assets when they could have signed him in the offseason? (Mr. Benning, that was a rhetorical question, you can put your hand down). Another factor that is going against Backes is his age. At 32, signed until he is 37, the dropoff in performance due to age that has been closely examined by both Eric Tulsky (now of the Carolina Hurricanes) and Cam Lawrence (now of the Florida Panthers) is not his best friend.

Forward Aging Curve from Canucks Army ‘How to Build a Contender’ series
http://canucksarmy.com/2015/8/18/how-to-build-a-contender-part-2-the-impact-of-aging

That originally reported one year deal looks like a much better deal now.

Jimmy Hayes:

The Case For:

Jimmy Hayes is a middle-six winger. While that role is important, it's not impossible to replace his productivity in free agency--and potentially at a cheaper cap hit (Brad Boyes, Tomas Fleischmann, and Justin Fontaine come to mind). However, the Bruins are best off not making a panic move after one subpar year that saw him put up a PDO south of 98, a ‘puck luck’ measure that ranked 320th out of the top 390 forwards in ice time last year.

The Case Against:

Man, the Bruins love trading players after ruining their value, don't they? First with trading Seguin after an unlucky postseason in which he scored 1 goal on 70 shots, and then not trading Carl Soderberg at the deadline until all they could get for him was the sixth round pick that turned into Max Talbot. Don't trade him now, let him play out the year, Hayes isn't enough on his own to garner the defensive return the Bruins need, either alone or as the centerpiece of a trade.

Prospects and/or Draft Picks:

The Case For:

With Chara approaching 40 and no heir ready to take the reins, the Bruins and their aging core should go for it and mortgage the future, trading some of the prospects they gained from the Hamilton and Lucic deals to get the top pairing defenseman they need.

The Case Against:

If the Bruins move prospects for a defenseman with term, it all but guarantees that one of Spooner, Marchand, or Pastrnak will also be traded. If the salary cap stays stagnant, the Bruins will have $19 million in cap space with two full forward lines and two defenseman to sign. Their currently signed 7 forwards are Bergeron, Backes, Krejci, Beleskey, Hayes, Nash, and Vatrano. The largest contract coming off the books next year is John-Michael Liles and his $2 million cap hit, which isn’t close enough to cover the salary increases for any one of those three players, never mind all three.

Thanks to Megan Richardson for help editing