In this edition of Boston Bruins’ News & Rumors, we look at the Bruins possibly working on a winger swap with the Edmonton Oilers, the team gauging Tuukka Rask’s trade value and the team’s continued interest in Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
According to Frank Seravalli of TSN, the Bruins and Oilers have discussed a possible swap of wingers. The names involved were Oilers’ winger Alex Chiasson and Bruins’ winger Anders Bjork.
“Sources say the Oilers engaged the Boston Bruins on a left/right wing swap, Alex Chiasson for Anders Bjork. (Assistant GM Keith Gretzky drafted Bjork in Boston.) We’ll see where that goes, but the Oilers are pursuing a number of similar left/right swaps with other teams.”
As mentioned, the Oilers have explored similar swaps with other teams. Still, it should be concerning to Bruins’ fans that general manager Don Sweeney is potentially evaluating Bjork’s value at the same level as the 30-year-old Chiasson.
Though the 6-foot-4, 208-pound winger would score 22 goals in the 2018-29 season, that was an outlier in his career more than anything. While he’d be more of a veteran presence for the team, it would be foolish to think that trading a 24-year-old under team control for three years with an annual $1.6 million cap hit would be a good idea if the return was one year of a 30-year-old winger on a one-year deal.
Chiasson is a fine player, but the Bruins should either be aiming higher with Bjork or aiming to keep him and develop him into a top-six player. The metrics are all there for Bjork and the eye-test also suggests he can be exactly that; it was just a streak of unluckiness and an inability to finish that hindered him during the Bubble.
Bruins Reportedly Exploring Rask’s Trade Value
Seravalli wouldn’t only report on the Oilers’ rumors, however. He’d also mention that the Bruins have gauged the value of Rask over the last few weeks. Because of these reports from sources, Rask has actually been included on TSN’s Trade Bait big board at the No. 10 spot.
“Vezina Trophy runner-up Tuukka Rask debuts on the board at No. 10. Many were wondering if there would be fallout from Rask’s decision to leave the bubble for family reasons, a decision that was certainly supported by teammates. But multiple sources indicate that Bruins GM Don Sweeney has initiated conversations with teams about Rask’s market value over the last number of weeks.”
It’s hard to imagine the Bruins moving on from Rask this offseason when their contention window is already closing. It’s even harder to imagine them moving on from him after backing him publicly when he made his decision to leave the Bubble and take care of a family emergency; something that just about anybody in the same situation would have done.
Rask had a Vezina-trophy caliber season during the 2019-20 season and there’s no reason to believe he can’t be exactly that player next season with Jaroslav Halak sharing the crease once again. The tandem would win the William M. Jennings award last season and are a legitimate threat to win it again in 2019-20 if the Bruins keep Rask.
The goalie market is stacked with talent this offseason both on the trade market and in free agency. It’s likely the Bruins are doing their due-diligence to see what they have in Rask, especially if they’re certain they can bring in another top option in his place. Still, this doesn’t seem to be a trade that’s likely to happen (though crazier things have happened in the past).
Bruins Have Continued Interest in Ekman-Larsson
It’s no secret that the Bruins have been kicking tires on Ekman-Larsson this offseason. With the Coyotes reportedly shopping their captain in an attempt to recoup draft capital after being forced to forfeit a second-round pick in 2020 and a first-round pick in 2021 while also dumping salary, the Bruins have been among the names mentioned as suitors.
Ekman-Larsson is one of the NHL’s best offensive defenders and he plays a solid two-way game that includes the ability to quarterback a power play. While the reported trade value of a first-round pick and a promising young defender doesn’t feel like it’s the most unreasonable trade return for a player like Ekman-Larsson (who is a legitimate top-pairing defender), it’s the contract he carries that’s more of an issue.
The 29-year-old is under contract for another seven seasons with an $8.25 million cap hit annually. That could be a deal-breaker for a lot of fans, especially considering the Bruins unwillingness to budge on the years and salary for their own expiring contract in Torey Krug.
Though Krug may not be the same player as Ekman-Larsson, the two would fill similar roles in a Bruins’ uniform with the latter having a higher ceiling, but also coming in with uncertainty as far as his fit with the team. It’s unlikely that there would be a fall-off in his game and in reality, playing with a good team could actually make him even better. Still, the risk is there.
We’ll see where this goes, but for now, the trade price doesn’t seem too daunting at the very least.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.