The Boston Bruins are heating up as we get closer to the trade deadline. They have won eight of their last nine games and have moved comfortably into the second-wild card spot, seven points ahead of the ninth-place Detroit Red Wings with four games in hand. Barring a monstrous collapse, we should see the Bruins be buyers at the deadline again this season, and one team that would be an intriguing trade partner is their Atlantic Division rivals, the Buffalo Sabres.
After a historically bad campaign in 2020-21, the Sabres have traded away Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Ristolainen and are near the bottom of the standings this season. They have an 11-20-6 record, making them set to be sellers. The Bruins and Sabres aren’t shy about making deals with each other and there are a handful of players from Buffalo who Boston should pursue. Here’s a look.
The Bruins would benefit from adding another right-handed defenseman to their roster. After Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, they have very little depth on the right side. Old friend Colin Miller could help fix this issue. The Bruins didn’t want to lose him for nothing during the 2017 Expansion Draft, so this might be their chance to bring him back.
After two down seasons with the Sabres, Miller has been playing quite well this campaign. In 32 games, he has two goals, 10 assists, and a minus-2 rating. The Sabres will likely shop him, as he is in the final year of his contract and eligible for unrestricted free agency. He would be an immediate upgrade over Connor Clifton on the Bruins’ bottom pair and could also be used on the power play.
Vinnie Hinostroza was quietly signed to a one-year, $1.05 million contract over the summer by the Sabres. So far, he’s been quite impressive, with eight goals and 17 points in 35 games and could be classified as a middle-six forward. Given that he plays both center and right-wing, he would also offer Boston some versatility.
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He would be a rental player, but one still worth considering. He would likely come at a low price as another upgrade to Boston’s forward group. The Bruins would benefit from adding a forward who can produce well offensively. Although he wouldn’t be the biggest splash on the trade market, he would be a nice short-term option during Boston’s playoff run.
The Sabres are in a full rebuild, which means they could eventually make Victor Olofsson available. The 26-year-old winger is in the final year of his contract before he becomes a restricted free agent. However, if he agrees to a one-year deal with Buffalo, he will be old enough to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent the following offseason. With this, the Sabres might be open to moving him to avoid the possibility of losing him for nothing down the road.
Olofsson would be a good answer for the Bruins’ lack of right-wing depth. In 29 games this season, he has five goals and 15 assists. Jake DeBrusk has requested a trade, so they will need to add a winger to replace him anyway when he is moved. Although he’s a lefty, Olofsson is comfortable playing right wing and could fight for a spot in the top six with Craig Smith. A little competition is never a bad thing. At a minimum, he’d be an above-average third-line winger in Boston.
Although Mark Pysyk is not a star, he is a very good depth player. He is a defenseman who can also play forward, which alone makes him a rare option and particularly handy for the Bruins this season. Both injuries and illnesses have been piling up around the league, and the NHL schedule will be more condensed moving forward.
At a minimum, Pysyk could be another solid depth defenseman for the Bruins. He’s a right-handed shot who could compete with Clifton for a spot on the bottom pair, too. In 37 games this season, he has a goal, seven assists, and a plus-2 rating. His contract expires at the end of the season, so he would be another rental. But it’s always good to have extra players, and he would provide the Bruins with just that for a cheap price.
Last season’s Taylor Hall deal between the clubs worked out swimmingly for Boston, so they shouldn’t be against talking to the Sabres again. A reunion with Miller or adding Olofsson would be great, but Hinostroza and Pysyk would be nice consolation prizes. Alas, we’ll have to wait and see what happens in the weeks ahead.