The New York Rangers are holding a firesale at the NHL trade deadline, and the Boston Bruins could be one of their big buyers. New York is putting, among others, defenseman Ryan McDonagh and winger Rick Nash on the block - but at a price.
If any team could afford their services, however, it's the Bruins. And new reports suggest that Don Sweeney is at least checking in with the Rangers on a possible deal. The New York Post's Larry Brooks reported last Saturday that the Bruins are among five teams that are "in" on negotiations with the Rangers for Nash.
Then, Brooks reported on Monday that McDonagh has "prompted keen interest" from both the Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning.
How Would They Fit?
Either McDonagh or Nash would both fill pressing needs and provide marked upgrades at their respective spots in the Bruins lineup. The B's have long needed a reliable left-shot defenseman, and McDonagh remains one of the league's better all-around options in that department. That's to go with his veteran leadership; McDonagh, currently the Rangers captain, has played in 96 career playoff games for the Rangers.
It's clear that, assuming their interest in Nash and Oilers winger Patrick Maroon is legit, Sweeney wants to add a veteran winger with size and some scoring ability to his top-nine (if not top-six) forward group. Nash can still bury the puck at age 33; he has 17 goals in 56 games this season. But he's also developed into a dependable two-way winger in recent seasons.
At What Cost?
McDonagh would fetch a much bigger price than Nash in a trade. He'd be under team control for both this season and next season, and he's due a very palatable $4.7 million. But if the price tag would include players on the NHL roster - say, Brandon Carlo - that would arguably be counterproductive, particularly in the long-term. The idea would be to pair McDonagh with the right-shooting Carlo, rather than jettisoning the promising 21-year-old in favor of a regular top-four role for Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller.
Nash, on the other hand, is still due just over $2.2 million for just this year (according to CapFriendly) and will be a free agent after the season. So he would strictly be a rental and come at a lower cost. Sweeney certainly has a deep pool of picks and prospects to move for an asset like Nash, which would improve the Bruins' roster for this year's playoff run and keep their long-term outlook mostly intact.
What To Expect At The Trade Deadline
The Bruins are making a surprising run near the top of the Eastern Conference this season. They appear to be ahead of schedule on the development of their young roster and impressive pipeline. But that doesn't mean Sweeney needs to make a big move right now, namely a trade for McDonagh. Even if they add him to the roster, would his presence - presumably at the expense of at least one NHL-level player - make them even with Tampa? It almost certainly wouldn't Put Them Over The Top™, which would often be the idea with a move like this.
But by the same token, if Sweeney can swing a deal for McDonagh and/or Nash without giving up someone like Brandon Carlo or Jake DeBrusk or Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen, that's a deal that the Bruins can afford to make and should heavily consider. Especially since they'd have McDonagh for next season as well.
Whatever Sweeney ends up doing, it sounds like the Bruins are looking to be buyers. Potentially for the big fish.
-- By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].