(Note: This piece was written and edited before the Toffoli trade, so...just ignore those mentions.)
The period leading up to the NHL trade deadline is synonymous with overpaying.
Every year, we see teams sacrificing their futures to pay for 3rd line rentals or aging 6th defensemen.
Judging by early results, it appears this year will be no different than previous years, and if the Bruins want to play the swapping game, they (and their fans) better get ready to pay.
While these aren’t going to be “apples to apples” comparisons, let's look at some of the more noteworthy deals that have been made so far this year to get a sense of the trade market:
- NJ sends Taylor Hall & Blake Speers to Arizona for Nate Schnarr, Nick Merkley, Kevin Bahl and conditional 1st (2020) and 3rd (2021) picks
- LA send Jack Campbell / Kyle Clifford to Toronto for Trevor Moore and two conditional 3rd picks (2020 & 2021)
- Minnesota sends Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison and a 2020 Conditional 1st round pick
- NJ sends Andy Greene to NYI for David Quenneville and a 2021 2nd round pick
- NJ sends Blake Coleman to TB for a 2020 1st rd pick and Nolan Foote
As you can clearly see, the market price has already been set quite high, with most ‘legitimate’ difference-makers commanding at least a 1st round pick and a prospect.
In the case of the Leafs’ move and the Greene move to NYI, even players who will likely play minor roles with their new teams still required pretty significant assets to make deals possible.
What this means for Boston and for their fanbase, many of whom are screaming for trades, is stating the obvious: making a move is probably going to hurt.
First off, any trade for the likes of Tyler Toffoli, Chris Kreider, or Kyle Palmieri is going to require a real prospect leaving the Bruins’ system. For those suggesting the Bruins offer up players like Zach Senyshyn, Jakub Zboril, or Oskar Steen, I’m sorry to say but these probably aren’t going to be the prospects teams will be seeking.
A deal for one of the top three trade targets could very well cost the Bruins a player of Jack Studnicka’s or Urho Vaakanainen’s stature. Don’t believe it? Have a closer look at Calen Addison or Nolan Foote. Both are excellent prospects that are bound for the NHL someday soon, and both were required to get the respective deals done.
Next, if the Bruins are going to go after a big prize, they will likely have to part with their upcoming first round pick in 2020 (a draft that is supposed to be loaded in talent), along with potentially one or two more high draft picks.
If the Bruins decide to pursue a lesser name, perhaps a 3rd line winger, they may be able to get away with only letting go of a 2nd round pick to bring him in.
As we all know, draft picks are never a sure thing. Yes, the Bruins could take a conservative approach at the deadline and hang on to their picks, but there’s no guarantee those picks will translate into quality NHL players. If you take a look at any NHL team’s drafting history (especially the B’s), there’s plenty of evidence of top picks not panning out.
As a result, Sweeney and Co. probably won’t be afraid to gamble a bit with picks.
Finally, a big move at the deadline could require the Bruins to trade away a player from their current roster. First, the Bruins may be forced to trade a current Bruin to clear cap space for their new addition(s). Next, a team like the Rangers could ask for an established, young NHL player in return for Kreider, as well as the picks. It seems many Bruins’ fans would (editor’s note: stupidly) trade Danton Heinen for a bag of pucks at this point, but do other teams want him? Instead, a high-profile move could require the Bruins to say goodbye to Anders Bjork or Jeremy Lauzon, two players who have taken giant steps forward in the 2019-2020 season.
Does all this suggest the Bruins should not be buyers prior to the February 24th deadline? Not necessarily. In fact, given the Lightning’s acquistion of Blake Coleman (a very underrated player), the Bruins almost certainly need to make a move to keep pace with the Bolts this post-season.
The thing is, it’s not going to be easy to get a deal done, and it’s not going to be cheap. Sure, every year there is a player or two who seemingly go below market value at the deadline, but with a rather thin group of trade targets, this will probably not be the case this season.
Bruins fans need to be prepared to give up more than they’d like or be willing to accept a quiet next week or so from B’s management.
Your thoughts headed into the deadline? Are there any true untouchables in the system? Would you deal a Lauzon or Bjork if it meant a Kreider or Palmieri coming back?