By the end of the 6th Round of the 2016 NHL Draft, the Boston Bruins had made all their picks, including choosing defenseman Charlie McAvoy with the 14th pick, but had not made any other moves to improve their defense right away.
Before the draft, the Bruins missed out on trading to acquire the rights to sign Alex Goligoski and Boston-native Keith Yandle. Both of the top end defensemen were traded for very small prices and then were instantly signed to big money deals by the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers, respectively.
Now on day two of the draft, the Buffalo Sabres acquired d-man Dmitry Kulikov, a player the B’s had been rumored to be looking at.
So now there are three less veteran defenseman on the trade market, leaving the Bruins in a pickle. The free agent market that opens on July 1, does not have many options at defense either. Realistically, there are three defenseman that Boston might be able to reel in but they will have to make their move quick.
The most rumored trade for the Bruins going into the draft was for American defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk, of the St. Louis Blues. Shattenkirk is an above average defenseman and could be the perfect fit in Boston.
The only reason why Shattenkirk is even on the trade block is because his contract is up at the end of next season and they want to make sure to get a return for a player they might not have the money to re-sign at the end of his contract. The Blues have a good, young defense core and need to free up some cash to extend those players into the future.
Reportedly, Bruins GM Don Sweeney was in talks to acquire Shattenkirk on day one of the draft, but explained that the price for the St. Louis d-man was a bit too high for him. The Blues were asking for David Pastrnak and the Bruins’ two first round picks to be part of the package for Shattenkirk.
“There was not a lot that moved around today. People have been laying foundation [for trades] for quite some time, but there are players that we’re just not comfortable putting into deals. I’m going to defend that. I’ll be honest with you that I just am,” Sweeney told CSN New England.
Trading Pastrnak for Shattenkirk would be a risky move as the Bruins do need more scoring, which Pastrnak brings, but the also need a solid defenseman, which Shattenkirk brings.
Maybe the Blues will bring down the asking price as the draft moves on and the NHL calendar gets closer to July 1. Shattenkirk will make $5.2 million next season, a very affordable price that the B’s could take on if Sweeney and the organization are serious about improving the defense.
Another defenseman that recently has come up in Bruins trade rumors is Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks. Fowler is a third pairing d-man who had a solid rookie season in 2010-11 but has fallen out of favor with the Ducks because even more so than the Blues, Anaheim has a bright, young defense that is going to lead them to big things over the next five years.
Fowler has two seasons left on his contract at $4 million per year. The Bruins can afford this, but his $4 million per year is a little high for a $3.5 million defenseman. Fowler was a highly touted prospect during his draft year and a change of scenery could do him wonders. He is only 24-years old with many years left in the NHL.
The other defenseman the Bruins should consider is Winnipeg Jets d-man, Jacob Trouba. Trouba’s name has not come up in the rumor mill during draft weekend, but Trouba is a pending restricted free agent, and is sure to get an offer sheet or two. The Jets might decide to go the way of the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers and trade their pending free agent for a return before they lose him altogether.
Trouba is only 22-years old and has a very bright future ahead of him. He scored 21 points last season and finished with a plus/minus rating of plus-10.
If the Bruins want any of these players, who would surely make the defense better, they have to move quick and not miss out like they did with Goligoski, Yandle, and Kulikov.