With the Boston Bruins having a 24-12-2 record, it seems inevitable that they will be buyers as we inch closer to the deadline. One team who they should certainly be calling is the Chicago Blackhawks. Frank Seravalli recently noted that only Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Seth Jones are their only untouchables on the roster, so the Bruins would have many players to choose from him. It seems that their 2013 Stanley Cup Final opponent is moving toward a rebuild, so they should jump on the opportunity.
Frank Seravalli says on SN650 that Kane, Toews, and Seth Jones are the only untouchables for CHI. If you want to take a run at trading for anyone else, they’ll listen.— Editor in J (@Account4hockey) January 20, 2022
Although a star winger like Alex DeBrincat would be marvelous to add, it seems unlikely that the Bruins have the assets to acquire him. If possible, however, it is something that they surely should do. However, there are still some very solid options that they could be able to land – if they want to, of course. Let’s dive into a few of them.
One player who is reportedly available from the Blackhawks is Brandon Hagel. It’s a bit surprising to see, as the 23-year-old winger has shown massive signs of improvement this season. In 35 games, he has 10 goals and 10 assists, which is certainly good production. Keep in mind, he just had a respectable 24-point campaign in 52 games with the team as a rookie last season, so it seems that he is only going to get better from here. Perhaps the Bruins should recognize this and pursue him.
When looking at how strong the Bruins are at left wing, Hagel would play third-line minutes if acquired. However, even with this being so, he has shown that he can produce points consistently. With Jake DeBrusk also requesting a trade, they will need to replace him once he’s moved. This could open the door for the Bruins to bring in the Blackhawks’ young winger. One could argue that he would be an upgrade, too.
The Bruins should certainly consider adding a center like Dylan Strome. The Blackhawks have been shopping him for quite some time now, but a trade has yet to come to fruition. Furthermore, it isn’t a big secret that the Bruins could use some help down the middle, and he would provide them with just that. He has the potential to be a second-line center and showed that previously. In 58 games during the 2019-20 season, he had 12 goals and 38 points. After being traded to the Blackhawks the year before, he also recorded an impressive 51 points in just 58 games.
However, since those two very good seasons, Strome has cooled off. This season he even found himself healthy scratched multiple times, too. In 28 games thus far, he has four goals, eight helpers, and a minus-8 rating. Although he’s been underwhelming, it also seems that he is starting to find his previous form. Over his last six games, he scored a goal and added four assists. If he can keep this kind of pace up from here, he should be a player the Bruins should consider.
Dominik Kubalik is another interesting name who is in play from the Blackhawks. Like with Strome, however, he has been off to a slow start this season. In 41 games, he has just nine goals and 16 points. That is far too low for his standards. For example, as a rookie during the 2019-20 season, he scored an impressive 30 goals and recorded 16 assists in 68 games. He then followed that up with a 38-point campaign in 56 games. Therefore, he has shown that he can be a potential top-six forward. He just has struggled significantly this year, thus far.
Perhaps a change of scenery could assist Kubalik in finding his previous scoring touch. Like with Hagel, he could fit in as a left winger on the third line. However, he also can play right wing, so he would be able to compete with Craig Smith for a spot in the top six. That is, of course, if he can bounce back from here. Although his contract expires after this season, he will still be a restricted free agent. Thus, the Bruins would still have control over him and he’d be more than just a rental.
Ryan Carpenter may not be as flashy as the trio above, but he is the kind of depth forward worth adding for a playoff run. The Bruins lost Karson Kuhlman through waivers to the Seattle Kraken earlier this month and could benefit from adding a replacement. This is where acquiring the Blackhawks forward would make sense for the team. With the way injuries and illnesses are piling up this year, teams need to have extra players.
When looking at the Bruins’ lineup, it may be hard for Carpenter to wiggle himself as a mainstay in their bottom six. At this point of the season, he has five assists in 37 contests. However, he would still be worth pursuing, as he is a versatile forward who can be utilized on the penalty kill, too. With that, he plays very physically, which his 84 hits display perfectly. All of these elements about his game make him an intriguing rental candidate.
The Blackhawks are very likely to be one of the busiest sellers at the trade deadline. It will be interesting to see if the Bruins decide to call about any of these four players. Out of the bunch, Strome, Hagel, and Kubalik would be huge to add, but Carpenter still would be a sweet consolation prize. Alas, time will tell if any of these four will become Bruins before the end of the season.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.