As every hockey fan knows, there are buyers and sellers each season when it comes to trades, especially when the trade deadline rolls around. Generally, sellers are teams that aren’t playing particularly well, and are looking to offload some older pieces for draft stock while buyers are teams that are looking good heading into the postseason but just need a few more pieces to make a real run at the coveted Stanley Cup.
For the past several seasons, the Bruins have been buyers. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t guys on the roster who may be involved in a trade. Whether it’s someone who isn’t quite clicking in the Bruins’ system, or could use a change of scenery, the team has guys who may potentially be traded in the 2021-22 season.
Once again, the Bruins aren’t expected to be major sellers as the trade deadline approaches. There is still enough talent on this roster to make another run at the playoffs. How far they should be expected to go is up for debate, but there is little doubt that they shouldn’t at least make it.
Last year around this time, I said that Anders Bjork could be a potential trade piece, and he was later part of the deadline deal for Taylor Hall. That was a classic example of a guy that had fallen out of favor with the coaches and was struggling to be part of the lineup. Hopefully things work out much better for him in Buffalo.
Below are three potential Bruins players who could be on the trade block at any point in the 2021-22 season.
Urho Vaakanainen was the Bruins’ first round selection of the 2017 NHL Entry Level Draft. They took him with pick number 18 overall. It’s now four years removed from his draft year, and it’s beginning to look like crunch time for him to make the leap to the NHL. He’s been playing in the American Hockey League (AHL) since the 2018-19 season. While his play has been good down there, his 16 NHL games so far have been pretty unremarkable.
The time has never been better for him to make the leap. Last season, he was beat out by Jakub Zboril for the final roster spot, but still got called up when injuries devastated the blue line last season. With questions lingering on the blue line still, there is a chance for him to grab a roster spot and hopefully make the best of the opportunity.
Things are looking auspicious for him at the moment. He survived the latest round of training camp cuts earlier this week, and while that doesn’t guarantee that he’ll make the Bruins’ roster, it is a good sign that the coaches have been impressed.
But, if things don’t work out, this may be the season for the Bruins’ to cut their losses. He is still a former first-round pick, and even if it may not be working out for him in Boston, they could still get a decent return for him. He’s 22 years old right now, and will be 23 in January, so he should be ready for NHL hockey, even if a change of scenery may benefit all parties involved.
Curtis Lazar had his good moments last season after being acquired as part of the Hall deal at the deadline, but he didn’t prove to be the complete solution to the Bruins’ issues in their bottom six. If there are still struggles and a lack of consistency there in the 2021-22 season, he may become a trade piece.
Lazar is on a really good contract, with an AAV of $800,000, so trading him wouldn’t save the Bruins’ a lot of cap space. It would, however, open up a spot for them to try out some of their younger offensive pieces. They protected Trent Frederic in the Expansion Draft, so they clearly have high expectations for him even if he’s had some struggles this training camp. There’s also guys like Jakub Lauko, Oskar Steen, and Jesper Froden, who were all sent down to Providence on Oct. 6. If any of them have a tremendous start to the AHL season, they may warrant an NHL look this season.
Lazar is also an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. If things are not working out with him in Boston, the Bruins might as well trade him and get something instead of losing him for nothing.
The Bruins’ forward group outside of the top line has been up and down for the past several seasons. If they are going to capitalize on the last few seasons of Patrice Bergeron’s career, the team can’t be hesitant in making changes. Lazar would not make a huge difference, but if something isn’t working, his contract is a movable one.
It has been very exciting to watch the Jake DeBrusk comeback tour so far this preseason. After last season, I think many Boston fans were hoping for a bounceback year in 2021-22. So far, it’s looking like that may be the case. He’s had a very promising preseason and will hopefully carry that momentum into the start of the regular season.
Even still, DeBrusk’s name could very well make its way into trade talks this season. He’s in the final year of the two-year bridge deal he signed before last season that carries an AAV of $3.675 million. He’s only 24 years old, and still has plenty of potential, so the story with him his whether or not he can find the consistency to be the player that Bruins management and fans hope he can be.
If this season starts at all like last season, don’t be surprised to see his name in trade rumors. Similar to Bjork last season, it may just turn into a case of a player in need of a change of scenery. Hopefully that doesn’t happen and DeBrusk rises to the occasion this season and plays as well as he has in moments in the past.
2021-22 Season Here We Come
The preseason has had its good and its bad moments, but has overall been a good showing from the team. Many players excelled, and still others didn’t put their best skate forward. But at the end of the day, the preseason really doesn’t mean much. It’s a good way to see where some players are at, but ultimately, it isn’t an absolute determinant of how a team will do in the regular season.
Questions remain with the Bruins, but now we just need to wait and see where the chips fall when the season starts this week.
I’m Hannah Garfield, a graduate of Elon University with degrees in Film and Media Analytics. Currently, I’m pursuing my MFA in Screenwriting at Boston University. I’m a lifelong, passionate Boston sports fan and love all things Bruins.