Boston Bruins

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 09: P.K. Subban #76 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates a goal against the Florida Panthers at the Prudential Center on November 09, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Panthers 7-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The final days of the 2022 NHL trade deadline are approaching.

And while the party is underway in Colorado with the acquisition of Josh Manson, and as Florida took their first swing with Ben Chiarot, Don Sweeney and the Bruins remain a team surveying their options. For the Bruins, the path may very well come down to the prices, and weighing one need versus another between now and next Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

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But one thing that certainly seems to be on the team’s mind as they approach that deadline? Defense.

From depth options to a potential franchise-changer to the left side, the Bruins are linked to just about everyone available this time around. And it’s only confirmation that they are indeed aware that you can never have enough defensemen. They’ve lived that repeatedly since making their return to the postseason in 2017.

So, just who could that entail for the Bruins?

  • PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 05: Justin Braun #61 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on after a goal by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period at the Wells Fargo Center on December 5, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

    Justin Braun

    A right-shot defenseman, the Flyers’ Justin Braun is an underrated option on this market.

    On the board with five goals and 15 points through 59 appearances this season, the 6-foot-2 Braun is one of two Philly defensemen in the black this season, at plus-3 (Travis Sanheim is the other, at plus-3). Braun has done this while absorbing a buttload of defensive-zone grunt work for the Flyers, with the most defensive-zone faceoffs among all Flyers (400), and an offensive-zone start percentage just over 38 percent (lowest among all Flyer defensemen).

    The 35-year-old Braun, who spent the first nine years of his career in San Jose before a trade to Philadelphia in 2019, also ranks 19th in blocked shots per 60 (5.31) among NHL defensemen with at least 50 games played this season.

    In other words, he may very well be the perfect third-pairing complement to take some of the right-side burden and burden off of Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.

  • ELMONT, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 05: Zdeno Chara #33 of the New York Islanders skates against the Chicago Blackhawks at the UBS Arena on December 05, 2021 in Elmont, New York. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Zdeno Chara

    Off the bat, I gotta admit that I don’t really think I see the fit here. ‘Bad blood’ may be laying it on a bit too thick, but the split between Chara and the B’s was a bit of a weird one. The Bruins offered Chara more money than the Capitals did in 2020, but they made it clear that they weren’t going to guarantee playing time, and it seemed like the Bruins had a legit interest in building in some rest nights and perhaps reducing Chara’s workload to a second-pairing role. Chara, a prideful guy, decided to take his talents to Washington instead, where he was ultimately utilized in a third-pairing role, and has since taken them to New York in a similar role. To keep it simple, I just wonder if either side legitimately wants anything to do with the other at this point in time.

    That said, Chara is still a premier tough guy in this league, and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves and provide some nasty. It’s just the other stuff that’s dipped since the last time you saw No. 33 in a Boston sweater, and perhaps to a degree that would make the Bruins a bit uncomfortable with the idea of bringing him back.

  • GLENDALE, ARIZONA – MARCH 22: Jakob Chychrun #6 of the Arizona Coyotes skates with the puck against the Colorado Avalanche during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on March 22, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    Jakob Chychrun

    This feels like the name to watch for the Bruins between now and the trade deadline.

    The Bruins are hot for the Coyotes’ Chychrun, and that’s really no surprise. He’s a left-shot defensemen with a manageable contract ($4.6 million cap hit through 2024-25), and at 23, is set to enter the prime of his career real soon. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a do-it-all defender standing at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds. He’s basically exactly what they’ve looked for since embarking on this left-side defensive reset that started with moving on from Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug back in 2020.

    Now, the Bruins’ hopes for a Chychrun deal seemed to take a significant hit with word that he’d be out for up to a month with a lower-body injury. But additional testing Wednesday revealed that the injury is not as bad as initially feared and that he could be back on the ice later this week. And by that, they mean he’ll be back on the block by the weekend.

    The price to acquire Chychrun will not be cheap, as the Coyotes have been notoriously inflexible on their asking prices since beginning this rebuild of all rebuilds. You’re likely talking about moving a first-round pick and one of your high-end prospects (think Fabian Lysell or Mason Lohrei), and then some more.

  • SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – JANUARY 01: Mark Giordano #5 of the Seattle Kraken skates with the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at Climate Pledge Arena on January 01, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

    Mark Giordano

    With the ’22 Kraken unable to go full ’18 Golden Knights on the NHL, it’s certainly in the club’s best interest to trade Mark Giordano to the highest bidder ahead of next Monday’s deadline. Defensemen seem to be all the rage every deadline, Giordano is 38 years old and is a pending free agent, and he’s going to age out by the time the Kraken are competitive.

    And while Giordano isn’t the 74-point guy he was on the way to a Norris Trophy in 2019, the veteran of over 1,000 games still has a bit of pop in his game, with six goals and 23 points through 55 games. Giordano is also one of just five Kraken players to post a positive number on the shots-for percentage front, and same for a scoring chance for percentage front.

    One thing that could be slightly concerning with Giordano beyond the age: He’s played just 23 career playoff games, and 10 of those came in the 2020 postseason bubble. So while the experience factor in there, postseason experience is a bit of a different story, which isn’t exactly what you want to hear when bringing in the proverbial grizzled veteran.

  • SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – NOVEMBER 11: Jeremy Lauzon #55 of the Seattle Kraken warms up before the game against the Anaheim Ducks on November 11, 2021 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

    Jeremy Lauzon

    The Bruins really didn’t want to lose Jeremy Lauzon in the Seattle expansion draft.

    An affordable defender capable of playing both the left and right side, Lauzon’s loss was a significant one for the Bruins. Especially when Kevan Miller retired, Steven Kampfer departed for the KHL, and Jarred Tinordi left for the Rangers. The Bruins addressed Lauzon’s departure with the signing of Derek Forbort to a three-year, $9 million contract, and elevated Connor Clifton to full-time status. That’s had mixed results to date, with both players having their highs and lows with the B’s this year, and with both spending some time in the press box as a healthy scratch.

    In Seattle, meanwhile, Lauzon has gone through his own highs and lows, and has tallied one goal and six points through 51 games with the Kraken. The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Lauzon has also racked up a career-high 172 hits during his Seattle run. That rates out to an 11.39 hits per 60 rate, which is ninth-most among 358 NHLers with at least 800 minutes played this season.

    Lauzon would not be the cure to the Bruins’ biggest issue on the backend, but he would provide some much-needed depth, and bring some sorely-missed versatility in terms of where he can play in your lineup.

    And the Bruins sound like a team that misses what he can bring to their team.

    “Well, there is [an emotional attachment] for me. I mean, any young guy that you help develop his NHL career, whether it starts in the American League or here when he gets his chance, there always is,” Cassidy said of Lauzon following a Bruins-Kraken game last month. “Especially a guy like Lauzy. He’s a hardworking guy, very respectful kid, wants to be coached, practices well, understands what he has to get better at, all those things. So the growth for him is great to see. He’s no longer a Bruin, but he was a Bruin. So to me, he’ll always be part of a Bruin.”

  • ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 02: Hampus Lindholm #47 of the Anaheim Ducks controls the puck past Tomas Tatar #90 of the New Jersey Devils during the second period of a game at Honda Center on November 02, 2021 (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

    Hampus Lindholm

    Another situation worth watching for the Bruins will be Hampus Lindholm’s contract talks with the Ducks. A dependable, left-shot defenseman, Lindholm is in the final year of his contract with Anaheim, and it’s entirely possible that his demands don’t exactly line up with the Ducks’ timeline as a team stuck in the middle. If that’s the case, it’s pretty much guaranteed that new Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek will scour the market to maximize the return on the 28-year-old.

    Averaging 22:32 of time on ice this season, the 6-foot-4 Lindholm has put up five goals and 22 points through 61 games this season, and has been asked to be a guiding presence for first-year NHLer Jamie Drysdale. Lindholm has remained a five-on-five minute eater, too, as his 1,125:19 of five-on-five ice time in 2021-22 is the seventh-most in all of hockey this season.

    Like Chychrun, Lindholm another guy who would step right into a top-four defensive role with the Bruins and help balance out a Boston defense that’s a bit heavy on the right side compared to the left.

  • Feb 20, 2020; Newark, New Jersey, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Jacob Middleton (67) and New Jersey Devils center John Hayden (15) fight during the first period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 20, 2020; Newark, New Jersey, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Jacob Middleton (67) and New Jersey Devils center John Hayden (15) fight during the first period at Prudential Center. (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)

    Jacob Middleton

    It’s real easy to see how the Sharks’ Jacob Middleton could fit with the Bruins. A 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenseman with a penchant for the nasty and some strong analytics on the penalty kill? Oh, and signed for less than $800,000? Yeah, the Bruins would be dumb not to get involved in that. But they were not, and are not, alone in their pursuit of Middleton.

    The market has only further intensified since word of the interest in Middleton broke, too, and the reported asking price on Middleton is a second-round pick and a prospect. That ultimately may be a little too rich for the B’s blood.

  • BUFFALO, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 16: Colin Miller #33 of the Buffalo Sabres attempts a shot during the second period of a NHL hockey game against the Arizona Coyotes at KeyBank Center on October 16, 2021 in Buffalo, New York. (Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)

    Colin Miller

    We’ve touched on a couple of old friends in this one, so why not add another with the Sabres’ Colin Miller?

    With the Bruins from 2015 through 2017, Miller put up nine goals and 29 points in 103 games with the Bruins before the Golden Knights plucked him out of town in the 2018 expansion draft. Upon leaving Boston, Miller tallied a career-high 10 goals and 41 points in his first year with Vegas, and later landed in Buffalo in a 2019 trade between the sides.

    And Miller’s offensive success in Vegas has certainly taken a nosedive since his move to the Sabres, with just seven goals and 35 points in 131 games with the Sabres over the last three seasons. This year, the now 29-year-old has appeared in 32 games for Buffalo, and is currently working his way back from surgery that’s kept him out of action since Jan. 15. That said, Miller still possesses a bomb of a shot, and the Bruins are always looking for some more pop from their backend.

    It’s fair to consider him a potential rental piece for the right side of Boston’s third defensive pairing if the price is right.

  • NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – MARCH 08: P.K. Subban #76 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Colorado Avalanche at the Prudential Center on March 08, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    P.K. Subban

    Now wouldn’t this be something?

    First off, let’s get this out of the way now: Subban is not the player he was during those Bruins-Canadiens wars from 2011 through 2014. Those days are long gone. But, if the Devils are moving Subban (a pending unrestricted free agent) ahead of next Monday’s deadline, he’s one absolutely intriguing option for Boston’s third pairing.

    After his game seemingly bottomed out over the last two seasons, Subban has bounced back in 2021-22 with three goals and 18 points through 57 games. He’s done this while having a revolving door of partners (he’s played at least 200 five-on-five minutes with three different partners this season), and has managed to post analytics that put him above water in corsi-for percentage (51.07 percent), shots-for percentage (51.09 percent), expected goals-for percentage (51.69 percent), and high-danger goals-for percentage (57.89 percent). It’s not Norris-caliber stuff, but it ain’t half bad either.

    Subban also has an extensive playoff resume, and has that clutch gene kickin’ around in him, with 18 goals and 62 points in 96 career playoff games since the start of the 2010 playoffs.

    Without getting into the popsicle headache of the daily cap and how it all works out, the best path to a Subban-to-Boston trade that allows the Bruins to address some other needs at the deadline would likely involve retained salary from New Jersey. Or with a potential third team helping broker the deal for additional retained salary help, like when the Lightning involved the Red Wings at last year’s deadline to help get David Savard from Columbus to Tampa Bay.