By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins could have their sights set on The Bay this trade deadline, as Don Sweeney’s squad is among the ‘half dozen’ teams reportedly interested in the Sharks’ Brenden Dillon, as noted on this week’s edition of TSN’s Insider Trading.
A left-shot defender, Dillon’s jump into the trade market comes as a result of the Sharks failing to find their game this season (they’re currently nine points out of a playoff spot in the West), and with the 29-year-old Dillon on an expiring deal.
Playing the bulk of his minutes on a top pairing with Brent Burns, Dillon has averaged 19:08 of time on ice this season (1:59 of shorthanded action per night) to go with one goal and 13 points through 52 contests. He’s also coming off back-to-back seasons of a career-best 22 points, and has been a definite ironman among NHL standards, having played in all but 12 of a possible 722 games since breaking in with the Stars as a full-timer in 2012-13.
Dillon also has a ton of playoff experience on his resume, with his 60 postseason appearances since the start of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs standing as the third-most among all NHL defenders over that span.
Now, on the surface, defense may not seem like a glaring need for the B’s.
But the Bruins are still without Connor Clifton (upper-body), Kevan Miller has yet to look legitimately capable of returning from a twice-broken kneecap that’s kept him out of action for 10 months, and John Moore entered the bye week in the doghouse after a rough showing in Pittsburgh on Jan. 19 and healthy scratch the next time out. It even prompted the Bruins to give Jeremy Lauzon a look in the team’s pre-bye finale against the Golden Knights.
Whether or not Clifton and Miller return, Moore regains his form after what was an obviously difficult shoulder injury and recovery, and/or Lauzon sticks all remains to be seen.
So, yeah, the Bruins could probably use a reinforcement.
The Bruins could also use a little bit of extra nastiness on the backend (especially with Miller’s future in question), which the 6-foot-4 Dillon certainly brings, with a Sharks-best 159 hits on the year to go with 58 blocked shots.
And among the 92 NHL defensemen on the ice for at least 900 minutes of all-situation play in 2019-20, Dillon ranks first in hits-per-60 (9.6). For additional context on such bruising ways, Charlie McAvoy is currently the top Boston defender here, with 5.76 per 60. Dillon also has the best on-ice goal differential of all San Jose regulars on the backend, at minus-5 (that team has been a complete train wreck this year, man).
According to Pierre LeBrun, the Sharks will have no problem moving Dillon this deadline, but the return (and where it comes from) remains the question for Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, as LeBrun seemed to favor the Hurricanes and Bruins in potential discussions for Dillon. But LeBrun believes that San Jose will ultimately receive a “second-round pick and maybe a prospect” in return for Dillon. That return may seem a little rich for the B’s blood, but Sweeney has experience negotiating for deadline blue line, as he acquired John-Michael Liles from the ‘Canes in 2016 and Nick Holden from the Rangers in 2018. And if you’re looking for positives, Sweeney was able to pull off both of those deals without parting with a second-round pick.
In other words, expect plenty of haggling between now and the league’s Feb. 24 trade deadline.