The Boston Bruins are floundering right now in the National Hockey League's East Division and the voices of fans and pundits calling on the franchise to make a big splash ahead of the trade deadline have been growing louder and louder.
The Bruins however have not been a team to make a big splash at the trade deadline as of late and part of me wonders if they are still reeling from that catastrophic trade with the New York Rangers at the 2017 - 2018 trade deadline, one that brought veteran forward Rick Nash into the fold. Nash would of course suffer a concussion shortly after joining the Bruins and was not much of a contributor for the team in either the regular season or the playoffs following the trade deal. The fact that he would retire from the sport after that season indicated just how badly that deal had gone for the Bruins, and I suspect that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney does not want to see a similar mistake made again.
Sweeney was at the helm of the Bruins when that deal was made but many believe this time that going after the biggest fish in the pond is something the Bruins desperately need to do. The name that continues to pop up in the rumor mill is that of veteran Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm who is a steal at $3.75 million, and who comes with an extra year of term beyond this season as well. After suffering losses on the blue line during the offseason, with the departures of both Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara, Ekholm would be an excellent and inexpensive way to patch up that problem, at least inexpensive in terms of cap space.
The problem here for the Bruins is that Ekholm is arguably the top trade target on the board this season and I suspect that this means the asking price from the Predators will be high indeed as a result. Nonetheless, NHL insider Pierre LeBrun recently expressed his belief that this is a move the Bruins should make, even while acknowledging the high cost that is likely to accompany such a move.
I like the toughness Jarred Tinordi has brought since being claimed off waivers but with the offseason departures of Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara, there are still some holes on the left side of the defence. Ekholm has a year and a half left on his contract at a bargain $3.75 million AAV. It’s the perfect match for what’s left of the Bruins’ championship-contending window. What’s a first-round pick and a prospect when you’re trying to max out Patrice Bergeron’s remaining time in the NHL and win another Stanley Cup? Could Jake DeBrusk be part of this deal?
Trading DeBrusk may sound somewhat far fetched, however we do know for certain that the player has been scouted, and recently, by rival organizations.
There may be no better time for Sweeney to put all of his chips in the middle of the table, and the fact that Ekholm would be available to them for one more season beyond this one seems to make him the perfect candidate to take a gamble on.