Welcome to trade season! With the All-Star break done and the Bruins continuing to gobble up points, we’re continuing our look at available trade targets that the Bruins might be interested in adding for their playoff run.
We had a look at forwards last week. This time around, let’s take a look around the trade block at some defensemen.
Most of our list comes courtesy of teams that should be looking to sell off assets as their playoff hopes disappear. There are a couple of other options from contending teams that have been reported to have interest in trading away some blue-liners as well.
As with our forward rundown, we’ll be profiling these players by age, contract status, points, games played, and 5-on-5 Corsi For Relative Percentage (CFRel%), which gives you an idea of whether they’re helping or hurting their teams shot share. In parentheses, I’ve included each player’s ranking among their qualified defensive teammates in this stat.
I’ve also included each defensman’s handedness, as I think this influences the Bruins’ interest in them. Here’s why: Zdeno Chara (L), Charlie McAvoy (R), and Torey Krug (L) are locked into the top three spots in the lineup. If they target a top four defenseman to take Brandon Carlo’s spot next to Krug, look for it to be a right-hander. On the other hand, with Kevan Miller (R), Adam McQuaid (R), and Paul Postma (R) all available to fill out the bottom of lineup, it would make more sense for a depth addition to be a lefty.
Here’s the list:
Jason Demers (R)
Age 29 Contract $3.9m this year, plus three more Points 16 GP 50 CFRel% 5.00 (1st of 7)
It’s open season on the Coyotes’ roster. While that’s no surprise, seeing Demers in trade rumors is a bit strange. Arizona acquired him just this last September from the Panthers for Jamie McGinn, and he has three years left on his contract after this one. He’s certainly an attractive option who can play in the top four, but his contract might be too much for a Bruins team with so much young talent that will need long-term deals in the next couple years. Also, Demers may be a statistical beneficiary of his excellent line-mate, Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Niklas Hjalmarsson (L)
Age 30 Contract $4.1m this year, plus next year Points 4 GP 24 CFRel% -3.61 (6th of 7)
Another defender that the Yotes just acquired, Hjalmarsson would likely carry a more reasonable price tag than Demers. After being traded from the Blackhawks for Connor Murphy, this year has been a stinker for the defensive specialist. He’s been held out of 26 games with upper body injuries and hasn’t been very good in the ones he has played. He’d be an interesting option if not for that extra year on his contract.
Luke Schenn (R)
Age 28 Contract $1.25m this year, then UFA Points 5 GP 48 CFRel% -2.86 (5th of 7)
In his time with the Maple Leafs and Flyers, Schenn was given top four (sometimes top two) minutes. He didn’t handle them well then, and he isn’t handling bottom pairing minutes well on a terrible Coyotes team now. Let somebody else overpay for his shot blocks and physicality.
Kevin Connauton (L)
Age 27 Contract $1m this year, then UFA Points 6 GP 42 CFRel% -1.01 (3rd of 7)
A career bottom pairing guy, Connauton has spent a lot of time getting buried with Schenn this year. He would be a very cheap rental option for depth, but I’m not sure he adds much of anything.
Josh Gorges (L)
Age 33 Contract $3.9m this year, then UFA Points 2 GP 22 CFRel% -5.84 (Last of 8)
Josh Gorges is not an NHL-caliber player, and nobody should want to trade anything for him.
Justin Falk (L)
Age 29 Contract $650k this year, then UFA Points 1 GP 26 CFRel% -5.31 (7th of 8)
Justin Falk is not Justin Faulk (with a U). He is also not an NHL-caliber player, but he did have the stones to call Evander Kane “selfish,” which is something.
Jack Johnson (L)
Age 31 Contract $4.36m this year, then UFA Points 7 GP 49 CFRel% -7.67 (6th of 7)
The Jack Johnson saga is just sad. A third overall draft pick and one-time staple of Team USA, Johnson’s financial troubles have left him in a tough spot: He really needs his next contract. He hasn’t been very good lately (or maybe ever), and he’s being pushed for ice time by Markus Nutivaara. And so, he reportedly has asked for a trade. Now, that doesn’t mean the Blue Jackets want to trade him. And even if they do, it doesn’t mean he’s worth adding.
Mike Green (R)
Age 32 Contract $6m this year, then UFA Points 26 GP 48 CFRel% -2.69 (Last of 7)
Imagine if you will: Mike Green and Torey Krug as the Bruins’ second pair. That would be a lot of fun, except for the part where the other team scores a lot. The Wings will get a good return for the offensive specialist, but he just doesn’t fit the Bruins.
Yohann Auvitu (L)
Age 28 Contract $700k this year, then UFA Points 5 GP 21 CFRel% 0.81 (3rd of 7)
I’d bet that you don’t know who Yohann Auvitu is, and I don’t blame you. He’s received sporadic ice time for bad Devils and Oilers teams since coming over from Europe last year, but it’s hard to say exactly why. Relative to his teammates on those bad teams, he’s been fine. And He’s got a good bit of skill too. I doubt the Bruins would consider him, but he might be a sneaky pickup for somebody.
Ryan McDonagh (L)
Age 28 Contract $4.7m this year plus next year Points 24 GP 45 CFRel% 0.08 (4th of 7)
According to multiple reports, the Rangers are looking to the future and considering trade offers for several of their star players, including their captain, McDonagh. He’s carried the load on the blue line for the Rangers for his whole career, and many believe he’s been dragged down by poor linemates (mainly Dan Girardi). Given the extra year on his contract, he would be very expensive. But if anybody is worth the cost, it’s him.
Nick Holden (L)
Age 30 Contract $1.65m this year, then UFA Points 9 GP 45 CFRel% -1.11 (5th of 7)
Holden plays top pairing minutes with the Rangers, but nobody’s quite sure why. He hasn’t had much value either defensively or offensively for his entire career. If he could be had for less than the 4th rounder the Rangers paid for him though, he’s a respectable depth option.
Erik Karlsson (R)
Age 27 Contract $6.5m this year, plus next year Points 31 GP 42 CFRel% 7.98 (1st of 6)
I talked about this in my forwards rundown, but it’s worth repeating: The Senators are a mess. They can’t fill their building, their owner is a loudmouthed curmudgeon, and they just generally stink. With the 2019 offseason looming large, I can’t see a reason why Karlsson would want to stay. That being the case, I can’t see a reason the Sens won’t move him at some point before his contract expires and they lose the best defenseman of a generation for nothing. It’s hard to imagine what the return for that kind of player would be. It doesn’t seem like Ottawa can “win” that trade no matter what they do. But if there’s a way to do it that doesn’t involve McAvoy or David Pastrnak, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
Johnny Oduya (L)
Age 36 Contract $1m this year, then UFA Points 6 GP 39 CFRel% 0.20 (3rd of 6)
Oduya is getting old, but his game has remained pretty okay. He’s got the versatility and experience teams like to add to the mix at the trade deadline. He’s not a top four option on the Bruins like he is on the Sens, but he could be a nice insurance option that could slot in for any injuries or youthful implosions.
Ian Cole (L)
Age 28 Contract $2.1m this year, then UFA Points 8 GP 37 CFRel% -0.51 (5th of 7)
The Penguins are still very much in contention (just wait until their shooting and save percentages even out), but Cole has been in an untenable position for much of the season. Coach Mike Sullivan seems to prefer six or seven other defensemen, meaning he’s a frequent healthy scratch. Perhaps the only thing keeping the Penguins from trading him so far has been health: If all of their defensemen were available, they’d have to move somebody. Call it the Vatrano Zone. Come to think of it, Pittsburgh does reportedly want to add to their forward group. I’m intrigued by the possibility of a Cole-for-Vatrano swap, where each team sends a press box hero the other way for a fresh start. Of course, we can assume Vatrano would then score ten goals in the playoffs on Sidney Crosby’s wing.
Erik Gudbranson (R)
Age 26 Contract $3.5m this year, then UFA Points 3 GP 32 CFRel% -7.97 (Last of 8)
For some reason, the Canucks saw fit to trade Jared McCann and a second round pick for Gudbranson in the summer of 2016. He predictably hasn’t provided anything of use since then. This year, he’s been mostly a third pairing afterthought and hasn’t played since January 6th due to back spasms. Hard pass.
From what I can gather, this year’s blue-line trade market is generally weak, despite some star power intrigue.
There is a real possibility that we’ll see a superstar dealt for a king’s ransom (Karlsson), along with another high-end ace (McDonagh), each of whom have an extra year on their lease. But the price for either of them will be very steep, and the degree of roster shakeup those deals would require will be significant. The Bruins probably aren’t in a position to make that kind of a trade.
Outside of those two stars, the market is mostly filled with players that don’t make sense at all for the Bruins (Demers, Green) or depth options that probably aren’t any better than what they currently have. That said, last year’s playoff series taught us that you can indeed run out of depth. Quantity is a good thing.
If the price is right, I imagine we might be getting familiar with one of Connauton, Holden, Oduya, or Cole.