It's the 13th February, which means that this is the time of year the NHL trade rumor circus begins to ramp up and teams look towards their last chance to either load up for a Stanley Cup run or sell the prize assets they have for as large a price as possible - the yearly merry-go-round of the trade deadline is upon us on March 1st.
The Bruins are in a curious position this season, too. They're a team that have arguments for both buying and selling come deadline time, depending on whether the management is looking for the short or long term view.
Reasons for being buyers
- The names out there. With players like Kevin Shattenkirk, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and others out there on the block, there's potentially a great choice of players to go shopping from.
- New coach, new faces. If you're going to make a change and bring in a new coach, then you may as well give him new tools to work with. The B's have talent out there already but there's no argument that reinforcements would be a huge help for the black-and-gold in the playoff race.
- All the cool kids are doing it. Well, maybe, anyway. Toronto, Boston's closest rivals in the Eastern playoff race, are likely to be looking for a little reinforcement themselves, and the Bruins are certainly going to need a little more than they have to keep up with their rivals over the rest of the season.
- The front office have to do something. They've fired the coach, which means that now Sweeney and Neely are the pair in the spotlight. If the team's failing and you fire the coach citing them as the reason, then you'd better make sure that there's a visible improvement. Giving Cassidy a big chip to play with shows, of nothing else, that you're committed to the new coach as more than a stop-gap, and sends a big message to the fans and the media that they have your full support.
- It'd recharge the Bruins fanbase. Three wins in a row have had a slightly jaded B's fanbase this season at least work their way back into believing that this team has a plan and can potentially do something in the playoffs. The emotional charge of a big-name arrival, particularly as up until now all they've seen under Sweeney is stars exit, might be key in buying the front office some much-needed goodwill.
Reasons to sell
- Prices are likely going to be sky-high. Brian Boyle for a first-rounder, anyone? If Bruins management do decide to build for the long term and want to sell high on David Krejci, for example, there's probably someone willing to pay well over the odds.
- Getting out of cap jail. Krejci at 7.25 million? David Backes at 6 million (still a baffling contract) Matt Beleskey at $4 million? These are...not fantastic deals, and that's even before we mention Adam McQuaid. There's $13 million in cap space for rentals on the B's at the moment, but you have to think any deadline trade from B's has to have an eye to the long term
- Getting something for nothing. The expansion draft throws another wrinkle into things. This trade deadline gives a chance to get a little more than nothing for pieces otherwise considered expendable, and maybe strengthen for the playoffs into the bargain.
All the indications so far say that the B's are becoming buyers, but it's early.
Over the next few weeks, Chowder will be ramping up its deadline coverage, so wherever the road leads, we'll walk it, and talk about all the possible twists and turns along the way...starting today.