Now that the Bruins have let Andrej Sekera, Jiri Tlusty, Erik Cole, and Antione Vermette pass them by, the pressure is really on Peter Chiarelli to make a deal. There are still quality options available, but the buyers and sellers couldn’t be more clear this deadline, so if the Bruins aren’t diligent, they may lose out well before 4 pm tomorrow.
Here, I’m going to give a quick summary of which guys would be best for the Bruins and why, and the list is done roughly from most important to least important. There’s 2 things to keep in mind with this list. The first is that rentals are likely the best option for the Bruins, who shouldn’t want to give up cap space for next year. And the second is that the Bruins need a defenseman or 2 far more than they need a forward.
Michalek needs to be the Bruins prime target, and it’s not even a question. Michalek is a righty, which is huge for the Bruins because 3 of their clear top 4 defensemen, Chara, Hamilton, Krug, and Seidenberg, are lefties. Michalek is also 32, so there’s not a huge reason for him to stick in Arizona for a rebuilding process. His corsi is 51.9% on the lowly Coyotes despite starting significantly more often in the defensive zone than the offensive. He makes $4 million and I doubt the Coyotes would be willing to eat salary with their low budget ceiling, but the Bruins could definitely make $4 million work now that Chara, Krejci, and Miller will all have had significant chunks of their salary put on LTIR as well as the automatic $4 million that the Bruins get every year after the first day of the season from Marc Savard. Based on what I’ve seen, the Bruins can probably take about $5-6 million on in saiary, but it’s hard to say exactly. (This is something that the NHL should keep track of and encourage people to follow, similar to what they did with analytics.) How much salary the Coyotes eat on the off chance that they do or how much salary the Bruins would send back in a deal may be the determinant over whether or not the Bruins can trade for a 2nd guy. For instance, if Chiarelli plays a mind trick on the Coyotes and convince them that Matt Bartkowski and his surprisingly high salary of $1.25 million is a trade asset, then that mitigates some of Michalek’s $4 million cap hit quite nicely.
The trade for Andrej Sekera got a prospect and a 1st rounder, and Michalek is worth it if the team is gonna go all in for the playoffs.
If the Bruins don’t get Michalek, I’d be happy with Petry, another righty. Petry’s corsi doesn’t look good at just 48.9%, but he does play for the Oilers, of course. He also starts the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone, and the Bruins need a defensive defenseman more than an offensive one. He makes just over $3 million, fitting in pretty well with what the Bruins are looking for. And the Oilers would probably be willing to eat half the salary if the Bruins’ offer trumps that of other teams.
Atkinson would be a great get if the Bruins want a guy that they’d be likely to resign next season. That might be a little strange if Pastrnak, Smith, and Eriksson are still on the roster, so trading for Atkinson could signal that Chiarelli is thinking of moving Smith or Eriksson in the offseason.
Atkinson had 21 goals last year in his age 24 season, and he should continue to grow there. Despite his lack of size, he’s a good possession player, having an almost average corsi on a bad team while starting more often in his own zone. He’s passable at a lot of things, which would look nice next to some guys in the Bruins bottom 6 who simply suck at a few aspects of hockey. Atkinson only makes $1.15 million, so trading for him should definitely not be all that the team does at the deadline.
After the year he had last year, I can’t believe I”m saying this. But Erat has been good this season, with a 52.9% corsi despite starting more often in the defensive zone on a horrible team. But Erat could be a good answer for the Bruins, although it’d be hard to know which line he would play on. My guess would be putting him with Bergeron and Marchand, which would send Reilly to the 1st line. Erat would be higher on this list, but we’ve seen recently how bad he can be in a situation that he doesn’t like and doesn’t fit him, and we don’t know how that’d work out for the Bruins. But, considering that the rest of the league feels that same way about Erat, his price could also be driven downwards.
Hejda is not on the same level as Michalek or Petry. His corsi is below 45% but starts way more often defensively and faces hard competition. He should be a 4th or 5th defenseman to be played in tough, defensive minutes, making him sound like the perfect partner for whatever is left of Dennis Seidenberg. Hejda is the kind of guy whose perception becomes inflated at the trade deadline, but the Bruins could use him considering that their other options on the blueline are so weak.
This one comes with a huge caveat. The Bruins should only try to trade for Phaneuf and his ginormous contract if the Maple Leafs can take back Dennis Seidenberg. If that happens, them I’m ok with the Bruins throwing in a good prospect into the trade. Phaneuf is the kind of guy who plays really tough minutes and just tries to hold his own, and the B’s might need that. Phaneuf’s numbers would then get a lot better playing with Chara and Hamilton rather than the defensive corp of Toronto. Whether or not the Maple Leafs would even give up Phanuef in a trade that would require them to take back on a ton of salary is already debatable. But if they are, both sides could scratch each other’s back with this kind of move.