The 2020 NHL Trade Deadline is fast approaching and the Boston Bruins have yet to make their move.
While there have been many names floated as potential fits for the Bruins, some of whom have already been traded like Tyler Toffoli, Blake Coleman and Brenden Dillon, there are still quite a few suitable options left on the trade block.
Many have linked the Bruins to New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider not just this year but on many different instances in the past as well. On paper, it seems like a match made in heaven; a large, fast and skilled winger who could instantly slot into the team’s top-six would immediately solidify their lineup heading into the postseason.
At the same time, the asking price for a player like Kreider, a pending unrestricted free agent, would likely be astronomical given that the deadline has proven to be a seller’s market so far this year.
If the Bruins have to part with their first-round pick, a prospect, a roster player and potentially another draft pick heading into the deadline – a realistic trade package given how the market has shaken out so far, general manager Don Sweeney may feel hesitant to pull the trigger.
Especially considering there are no guarantees that Kreider would be a member of the Bruins beyond July 1.
Rangers and Bruins Could Explore Trade Talks Beyond Kreider
If the Bruins do want to make a move with the Rangers that would serve to solidify their top-six, they could do so without trading kings-ransom for Kreider. They’d also be getting a guarantee beyond this season as well.
The alternative to Kreider, of course, is 24-year-old right-winger Pavel Buchnevich; a left-shot winger who plays on the right-side.
While Buchnevich may not have the same league-wide appeal as Kreider, there’s a lot to like about the young forward who is on pace to have a career-high in points this season.
Scoring 14 goals and 37 points through 59 games, the 6-foot-3, 197-pound winger has consistently improved every season and has seen a steady rise in average ice time each season since his debut in the 2016-17 season.
Averaging 13:16 of ice time per game in his first year, Buchnevich would average 15:01, 15:10 and now 16:37 over the next three seasons respectively.
Buchnevich has also scored seven goals and 12 points in his last 12 games.
Buchnevich Could Be Safer Option for the Bruins
Buchnevich may not command the same return as Kreider but he’ll still undoubtedly come at a steep cost for the Bruins if the Rangers deem him to actually be available; he’s currently ranked 28th on the TSN Trade Bait List.
That price may be easier to stomach for Sweeney and the Bruins, however, given that Buchnevich carries a $3.25 million cap hit this season and next season. This makes him more than just a rental for a Bruins team very much looking to capitalize on their aging core’s remaining competitive seasons.
The Bruins haven’t publicly been linked to Buchnevich, but that doesn’t mean Sweeney and the Bruins’ scouting team haven’t taken notice whenever they’ve been watching Kreider. It would be especially hard to watch one without noticing the other given the fact that the two play on the same line, the Rangers top line in New York.
Buchnevich’s 14 goals and 37 points would rank him fifth and sixth on the Bruins in those respective categories. He’d trail only the team’s top-line and Jake DeBrusk in goals while trailing their top line, David Krejci and Torey Krug in points.
For all the good that could come out of trading for a player like Buchnevich, there are still reasons why the Bruins should be cautious in making him as their big deadline acquisition.
Buchnevich is a Pass-First Player
If the Bruins are going to explore options for players like Kreider and New Jersey Devils’ forward Kyle Palmieri so heavily, it’s because they’re looking for players who can finish and have natural scoring instincts.
Buchnevich may have scored a career-high 21 goals last season and has 14 goals again this season, his third consecutive year with at least 14 goals, but his instincts are more of a playmaker than a natural finisher.
With the Bruins likely looking to add a winger to Krejci’s line rather than splitting up the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, they undoubtedly would like someone who can receive a feed from Krejci and bury an opportunity without a second thought.
There’s no reason to believe Buchnevich can’t still be an effective player on that line regardless as Krejci is a deceptively good shooter despite his efforts to be a facilitator first and Jake DeBrusk has scored 18 goals this season after a 27-goal campaign one season ago.
Still, another shooter on that line couldn’t hurt and Buchnevich is definitely not a natural shooter like Kreider or Palmieri.
This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for the Bruins, however, and the decision should ultimately come down to asking price and the team’s actual desire to acquire Buchnevich.
Just because a move seems like a good idea on paper doesn’t mean teams are entirely sold on a player being a fit in their system, in their lineup or in their locker room. If the Bruins don’t think Buchnevich is necessarily a fit in any of those categories, that could be enough of a reason to pass and find another player.
With the Bruins contention window open but distinctly limited given the age of their core, now is the time to swing for the fences. Buchnevich would be a swing while adding a player who isn’t a pure rental; a move that worked out for the team last season when they added Charlie Coyle.
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