After losing in the first round to the Carolina Hurricanes, it’s clear that the Boston Bruins need to make some changes to their roster. When looking at potential trading partners around the league, the San Jose Sharks stand out significantly. In my opinion, there are three players on their current roster who the Bruins should consider targeting. Let’s now dive into why this is the case.
Even at 37 years old, Brent Burns is still a very effective offensive defenseman at the NHL level. In 82 games this season for the Sharks, he scored 10 goals and added 44 assists. That kind of offense from the point would be welcomed with open arms on the Bruins’ blue line. This is especially true when noting that the Bruins were linked to fellow offensive defenseman John Klingberg earlier this season. With the Sharks reportedly exploring the possibility of moving him, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bruins target him in a trade.
When looking at Burns’ numbers, it’s clear that he would be a major addition to the team’s power-play if acquired. The Bruins ended the regular season very poorly on the power play, so this is an area that they should look to improve on this summer. When it comes to his placement during 5-on-5 play, he could slot behind Charlie McAvoy on the second pairing.
Although the idea of adding Burns is certainly alluring, he does carry an $8 million cap hit until the end of the 2024-25 season. For any trade between these two clubs to come to fruition, the Sharks would need to retain some salary. A potential trading package for the veteran could include a prospect like Johnny Beecher or Jack Studnicka. To move salary out, the Bruins could part ways with a left-handed defenseman like Mike Reilly. To conclude the move, a second- or third-round pick would likely be needed too. Burns would need to approve any move, however, as he has a three-team no-trade list.
Timo Meier would be a massive addition to the Bruins’ lineup. The 25-year-old winger just put together his best NHL season, as he set new career-highs with 35 goals, 41 assists, and 76 points. With numbers like these, the Sharks would love to keep the Swiss forward around for several more years to come. However, he is also a year away from needing a new contract, so perhaps they will at least listen to offers for him this summer.
Related: Bruins’ 2022 Offseason Trade Targets: Vancouver Canucks
With Jake DeBrusk’s future with the Bruins still in question, the team could be on the market for a new right winger this offseason. Until they moved the 2015 first-round pick to the first line on his off-wing, it was a position that was notably weak in 2021-22. Craig Smith also struggled while playing top-six minutes, but was far more productive when he was on the third line. If DeBrusk gets traded and a prospect like Fabian Lysell isn’t ready for the NHL yet, there will be a big hole in the position that Meier could potentially fill.
Speaking of DeBrusk, he could be the young NHL forward who the Bruins part ways with in a Meier blockbuster. However, the Bruins would need much more than that to get a deal done. Their 2023 first-round pick and a notable prospect would have to be added to the package, too. If not Lysell, general manager (GM) Don Sweeney could add another young prospect like Studnicka, Beecher, or Mason Lohrei.
Recently, pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) Anton Blidh expressed frustration about his lack of playing time with the Bruins this season. Due to this, it seems likely that the 27-year-old will sign elsewhere this summer. Although he wasn’t a major contributor to the team, he proved to be a solid depth forward when called upon. Thus, if he walks, Boston will need to find a replacement for him and Matt Nieto could be the kind of player to do just that.
Nieto put together a pretty solid season in the bottom six for the Sharks this campaign. In 70 games, he scored six goals and recorded 11 assists. Overall, that kind of offensive production while playing limited minutes is not too shabby. With that, he is entering the final season of his contract and carries an affordable $850,000 cap hit. Therefore, with all of this, he could be a decent short-term addition to the Bruins.
Unlike Burns and Meier, it wouldn’t cost the Bruins too much to acquire Nieto in a hypothetical trade. If the Sharks were seeking a draft pick for the Boston University alum, they probably wouldn’t get more than a fourth-round pick. Overall, this would be an asking price that they could afford with ease, so perhaps a deal could be made.
Alas, it would be very intriguing to see the Bruins and Sharks complete a trade this summer. Out of the trio, Meier of course would be the biggest splash, but Burns isn’t too far behind him. As for Nieto, a team can never have too much forward depth, and he would provide Boston with just that.