The Bruins have ascended to the ranks of the NHL’s very best teams. With trade season approaching, that puts them in prime position to be buyers. We’re going to take a look here at forward candidates from teams that should be looking sell.
With the compacted standings created by the NHL’s points system, most teams believe they still have a chance to make the playoffs at this jucture of the season. Even so, we’ve identified seven teams that really should be cutting bait: The Sabres, Senators, Canadiens, Panthers, Coyotes, Canucks, and Oilers. Each of these teams has at least one player that Bruins might be interested in adding, either as a top six player or for veteran depth. (Note: The Red Wings would be here if they had anything to offer, but they really don’t.)
We’re going to profile 13 of these players and consider their age, contract status, point production, and shot share using 5-on-5 Corsi For Relative Percentage (CFRel%). That stat shows how a player affects shots relative to his teammates, which is essential when looking at selling teams that have struggled as a whole. The further above 0%, the better.
Sellers, start your engines!
Age 26 Contract $5.25m this year, then UFA Points 36 GP 45 CFRel% 4.73
Kane is this year’s version of Kevin Shattenkirk: He’s a good player on an expiring contract that everybody knows is going to be traded. He’s also having an excellent season. The big wing is second on the Sabres in points behind only Jack Eichel and second in shot share behind only Jason Pominville. He’s on pace to set a career high in points, which is great until you consider his less than stellar reputation as a teammate. He seems like exactly the kind of guy that would have a career year when his contract is about to run up. He would certainly fit the bill for a second line wing, but he wouldn’t come cheap. The Sabres want a big package for him, reported to be a first round draft pick, a good prospect, and a conditional pick, per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. For a pure rental of questionable repute, that’s a hefty price. Hi numbers do, however, justify it.
Age 31 Contract $1.15m this year, then UFA Points 12 GP 43 CFRel% -0.10
He’s nothing special, but Pouliot has been a perennial 30 point scorer for the better part of a decade now. He typically does well in shot share, too. As a cheap depth forward who can kill penalties and contribute a little scoring, you can do worse.
Age 28 Contract $5.19m this year, plus two more Points 29 GP 43 CFRel% 1.80
The Senators are a weird franchise. Owner Eugene Melnyk has caused such chaos in his organization that they are reportedly considering trading Hoffman, a dynamic wing with a killer scoring touch, despite having him under control for two years on a perfectly fair contract. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned yesterday that the Bruins have looked into it. Given that the Bruins would be getting a bonafide top six scorer in his prime, with term, he would be a pricey acquisition to be sure. After giving away the farm to get Matt Duchene, the Senators must be anxious to restock their development system with picks and prospects. If it’s quantity they’re looking for, the Bruins have it.
Age 25 Contract $3.5m this year, then RFA Points 42 GP 43 CFRel% 3.37
Okay, this might just be a pipe dream. But if the Senators are looking to cut cost by trading Hoffman, they might be willing to listen on Stone, who is likely going to command a contract with a similar cap hit after this year. If the Bruins are looking for a fit, Stone would be worth the extra price tag if they can get him. He’s probably the best defensive winger in the league, and his offensive game has taken off lately. He leads the Senators in points this year. I’m sure they’d rather keep Stone, who is younger than Hoffman, but if I’m Sweeney, I’d do my best to pry Stone away with a bunch of picks and prospects, then sign him long term.
Age 35 Contract $6m this year, then UFA Points 16 GP 45 CFRel% 0.24
The Bruins don’t need another center, but Sweeney hasn’t been shy about adding them and moving them onto the wing. Plekanec would be a “buy low” candidate, as he has aged very poorly. After scoring a career-high 60 points in 2014-15, then 48 the next year, he bottomed out hard last year with only 18. If the Habs want to get something for him before his contract runs up, he might be a useful depth piece for cheap.
Age 29 Contract $4.5m this year and next Points 25 GP 45 CFRel% 3.68
It’s frankly insane that we have to include Pacioretty on this list, but the Canadiens are reported to be “actively shopping” him, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos. They apparently want a top goal-scorer in return, which the Bruins won’t be interested in giving up. It’s hard to imagine the Canadiens trading a player of Pacioretty’s caliber to the Bruins anway. If he made a Standley Cup run under Bruce Cassidy, Claude Julien might shoot Marc Bergevin into the sun.
Age 34 Contract $1m this year, then UFA Points 0 GP 7 CFRel% N/A
Here’s a sneaky one. Those paying attention applauded the Canadiens for signing Hemsky on the cheap this offseason. He was a productive player in Dallas the previous couple of years and looked like the kind of veteran that could slot into any team’s middle six. Hemsky’s 2017-18 season, however, has been a microcosm of this year’s Habs. He played in just seven games before being sidelined with a concussion. He’s back at practice now. If he is healthy, he could be a nice value add.
Age 36 Contract $2.5m this year, then UFA Points 13 GP 32 CFRel% -7.53
Is it me, or has Vrbata been a trade deadline target for each of the last 15 years? After moving on from Arizona (good for him!), Vrbata has had a nightmare season for the Panthers. He’s been in and out of the lineup with a concussion and an illness. His scoring has disappeared. And he’s dead last on his team in shot share. Not the best option, but if other deals don’t work out, he’s a “buy low” rental that might work.
Age 32 Contract $2.08m this year, then UFA Points 9 GP 32 CFRel% -0.09
Brad Richardson is a player who exists. If the Bruins were to trade for him, he would continue to extist. Depth!
Ah!!! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m trying to delete it!
Age 34 Contract $2m this year, then UFA Points 32 GP 45 CFRel% -3.83
First of all, how is Thomas Vanek only 34 years old? Secondly, he’s such a strange player to analyze. He’s having a great year on the scoresheet, second on the Canucks in scoring behind rookie sensation Brock Boeser. But his shot share numbers are just putrid, at second to last on the team. This isn’t out of character for Vanek, whose scoring has always been carried by a high shooting percentage, and whose CFRel% has finished in the black in just two seasons of his seemingly thousand year NHL career. I honestly don’t know what to make of him, and I suspect that NHL scouts and GMs don’t either.
Age 37 Contract $7m this year, then UFA Points 29 GP 45 CFRel% 9.11
Vancouver GM Jim Benning went on record before the season started that he would not ask the Sedin twins to waive their full no-move clauses. Even if they came to him and asked for a trade, they haven’t shown any desire to be separated, which complicates things. That said, things can change. Daniel in particular has been very good this season, and would make a lot of sense as a rental for the Bruins’ second line. Just don’t expect it to happen.
Age 29 Contract $1.5m this year, then UFA Points 24 GP 44 CFRel% 4.08
As rentals go, Maroon may be the best fit the Bruins are going to find. His heavy game would fit in well on the second line, and he’s capable of scoring in bunches. His shot numbers are great (second on the Oilers to Connor McDavid), but we always have to be wary of the McDavid effect. Playing on a line wih that type of player can make a lot of people look good. But Maroon’s numbers away from McDavid are actually still quite good. If Peter Chiarelli is willing to forego his typical loyalty and price Maroon fairly, he would be an ideal candidate.
Age 32 Contract $1.8m this year, the UFA Points 16 GP 46 CFRel% -3.99
Letestu’s profile is a lot like Plekanec’s, only he’s younger and much much worse at hockey. His shot share numbers are the worst his team (which is saying something), despite playing relatively easy third line minutes. He could make for some cheap, versatile depth, but I would take a pass unless all else fails.
Age 25 Contract $2.83m this year, then RFA Points 17 GP 24 CFRel% -0.68
There seems to be a concensus that Spooner, after signing a one-year extension last summer, will be traded away. He’s playing better than we’ve ever seen him play, racking up the points on David Krejci’s wing lately. The reaction I’ve heard has been “Great, he’s inflating his trade value!”, but I’m not so sure that’s the best way to look at it. Perhaps Spooner has found his groove in Bruce Cassidy’s system, which emphasizes the speed game that he feeds off of. And he’s always been a weapon on the power play. So is this the real Ryan Spooner? And is he the best rental option the Bruins have?