With NHL Training Camp on the horizon and the 2021 regular season just over a month away, rumors are swirling about some high-profile trades in the offing. Names like Jack Eichel, P.K. Subban, and other stars could be on the move within the next few weeks, and the Boston Bruins could be candidates to land something.
Every big trade, however, requires a big package in return usually including NHL-caliber players and other organizational assets. With a deep prospect pool, the Bruins may be in the market for one of the big-name players on the trading block — if the price is right.
Names like Jake DeBrusk and Connor Clifton have been floated around as potential trade pieces, but which prospects could the Bruins part ways with? Some names might surprise you.
With Jack Ahcan and Brady Lyle’s stock rising and Mason Lohrei waiting in the wings, Vaakanainen has suddenly become expendable. A former first-round pick who is just starting to play at the NHL level, Vaakanainen is still waiting for his shot and will likely see significant minutes at the top flight this season. However, should the Bruins have a chance to acquire a veteran like Subban, it would give them more leeway to wait for Ahcan and Lohrei to develop. Should this be the case, sending Vaakanainen the other way would be a gamble, certainly one they could not only afford to make but could levy into a smaller return package.
Counterpoint: Vaakanainen’s upside is more impressive than the likes of a Clifton or Jakub Zboril, so Boston should protect him and offer up Clifton instead.
Another possible defenseman who could be sent away, Zboril finally cracked the NHL roster to open the 2020-21 season, five and a half years after being drafted in the first round. While he showed flashes at times, Zboril is still likely a bottom-pair defender and one the Bruins potentially view as expendable. Zboril was reportedly offered up already in potential trade for Arizona’s Christian Dvorak, but the offer was turned down in lieu of picks.
Counterpoint: Zboril has already proven he can play at the NHL level, while we’ve yet to see that consistently from the likes of a Vaakanainen or Ahcan.
The Bruins goaltender depth, once a true weapon, has been whittled down as of late with Dan Vladar, Jaroslav Halak, and longtime denizen Tuukka Rask all departing in the summer. Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman represent the future for Boston in goal, while the prospect pool is thinning out. Third in line currently is Kyle Keyser, who saw limited action at the AHL level last season but at 22 looks to be a promising young prospect.
Counterpoint: Boston shouldn’t be in the market of trading away goaltending prospects with such thin organizational depth, not that Keyser’s ceiling is terribly high.
A left wing who’s had more than a cup of coffee in the NHL by now, Blidh has yet to see consistent playing time and might benefit from a change of scenery. The Swedish forward has two goals and a minus-eight rating in 38 NHL games since 2017. While his numbers don’t tell the full story, Blidh may be the type of player who flourishes with a consistent chance — one he won’t get this season in Boston barring any injuries.
Counterpoint: With his contract set to expire after this season, Blidh will be an unrestricted free agent, making him an unlikely trade candidate.
Another former first round pick, the return would have to be extremely enticing to part ways with Beecher. While this is an unlikely choice (and hear me out), Beecher has struggled to produce consistently and stay healthy at the collegiate level, although it’s still a touch too early to make any final judgment. Boston drafted Brett Harrison this summer and Trevor Kuntar last summer, both left-shot centers who make Beecher a little more expendable.
Counterpoint: Why would you trade a prospect who has yet to really show what he can do?