The Bruins aren’t likely in the market for one of the big fish at the NHL trade deadline. So cross the Rangers’ Rick Nash off the list. But it would still behoove them to find a veteran winger who can slot next to David Krejci to complement both him and his younger teammates.
Reports have already indicated that the B’s are showing interest in one or more of the below names. They would all fit the bill in terms of skill set and experience. They’d also provide a bit of a boost on the power play and are coming from teams that are likely sellers at the deadline. And in some cases, they’d bring the size that the Bruins have lacked on the wing this season, particularly next to Krejci.
Most importantly, none of these players would require the kind of return that would force Sweeney to move pieces off the NHL roster, which is playing some of the best hockey in the NHL right now. They’d also fit under the cap and qualify as inexpensive rentals. So don’t be surprised if the Bruins end up swinging a deal for one of these players before Monday’s deadline…
Thomas Vanek, Canucks
The ideal acquisition for Sweeney & Co. The B’s certainly know Vanek very well from his time killing them as a member of both the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens. He can still put the puck in the back of the net at age 34; he’s potted 16 in 60 games this season for rebuilding Vancouver.
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Sweeney would not have to give up much in terms of prospects of draft capital to acquire Vanek, and he could immediately have an impact on Krejci with his continued ability to bury scoring chances. He even has 20 goals in 63 career playoff games. The B’s could use a player pretty much exactly like him.
Patrick Maroon, Oilers
The Bruins have already reportedly shown interest in Maroon. He didn’t attend Oilers practice on Wednesday, which fueled speculation that something was brewing. And Maroon, more than any potentially available player, would give the Bruins great size (6-foot-3, 221 pounds) on the wing unlike any player they have besides David Backes.
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Maroon shoots lefty and primarily plays left wing, so he wouldn’t exactly be a perfect fit on the right side with Krejci. But his skill set and playing style is certainly what the B’s are looking for at the deadline. He can chip in some goals and bring a physical edge on the wing to complement their already-abundant speed and skill.
Radim Vrbata, Panthers
Florida could be sellers at the deadline as it continues to fall out of the Eastern Conference playoff race. If you’re a believer in chemistry between Krejci and a fellow countryman, the Czech Vrbata is your guy. He’s scored just five goals in 38 games this season, but he’d be in a much better position to regain his scoring touch in the Bruins lineup. And the B’s reportedly came close to getting him at last year’s deadline.
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The real concern with the 36-year-old Vrbata is that he’s been a frequent healthy scratch and appears to have lost interest in playing for the Panthers. So if he came here, the hope would be that playing for a contender on a line with Krejci would reinvigorate him – and not that he’s simply cooked. Also, he’d cost Sweeney practically nothing to acquire at this point. As far as veteran scoring wingers, Vrbata shouldn’t be at the top of your list – but the B’s could do worse. Like…
Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks
In case you haven’t noticed, the Blackhawks are in a free fall. They’ve lost nine of their last 10 (1-8-1) and have effectively become sellers – if they so choose. Veteran winger Patrick Sharp is a perfect candidate for them to move on from and get a small trade chip in return.
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And make no mistake, the return for Sharp would be small. Tiny. He’s 36 years old and has scored just seven goals in 51 games this season. However … Sweeney would barely have to give up on anything to take a flyer on him and see if he can kick it up a notch for the B’s in a real playoff run. He brings the size, versatility, scoring potential, and playoff experience that they could use right now.
What To Expect
Hopefully, if Sweneey makes a move like this, it’s closer to Vanek than Sharp, who has also been a healthy scratch in recent games. But there are names out there that would have a chance to fill the needs that the B’s could use down the stretch and into the postseason.
And what makes these players ideal is that Sweeney wouldn’t have to disrupt the chemistry at the NHL level in order to get them. Team president Cam Neely has also cited the team chemistry as something he’d prefer to keep intact. Sweeney has also said the team is a long way away from where he expects them to be, so he doesn’t necessarily see this year’s team as one worth cashing in his biggest chips to improve.
So if and when the Bruins make a move at the trade deadline, expect it to be for one of these players. If not them, then it’ll be a player with a similar skill set and intangibles. And hopefully it’ll be a player who gives the Bruins a boost in their areas of need as they gear up for a potential run at the Cup.
— 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.