As the 2022 NHL trade deadline draws closer, it appears more and more that the Boston Bruins are going to be buyers. There are plenty of needs that general manager Don Sweeney needs to address if the Bruins are going to be putting together a run through the playoffs.
Along with having needs for the remainder of this season, the Black and Gold have needs beyond 2021-22. Captain Patrice Bergeron is in the final year of his contract and said back in September in regards to his future that he is going to take it year to year. If he leaves, that would create a gaping hole at center as depth up the middle is not what Boston is blessed with after David Krejci left following the 2020-21 season to continue his career in his home country of the Czech Republic. An addition on defense, mainly a left-shot, is needed, as well as a point-producing right wing.
With an eye on the present, Sweeney should also have an eye on the future when addressing needs ahead of March 21. Here are five players that the Bruins can trade for that would address a need not only this season, but beyond.
Jakob Chychrun – Left Defense
The biggest target on defense across the league is Chychrun with the Arizona Coyotes. Looking for a top-left shot to pair with Charlie McAvoy, Chychrun would check all the boxes as a defenseman. The 16th overall pick in the 2016 Entry Draft would be an instant upgrade over what the Bruins have and can play in all situations. Last season in the 56-game shortened 2021-22 season, he scored a career-high 18 goals. His goal scoring is down this season to three, but he brings so much more to the table than offensive production.
Getting Chychrun will not be easy and expensive. He has three years remaining on his contract with a $4.6 million cap hit. Getting him would most likely require several assets going back to Arizona, but if there is one big splash Sweeney makes, it could be for the 6-foot-2, 220-pound blueliner. The Coyotes could use some goaltending help which Sweeney can’t offer, but a package including Jake DeBrusk, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, and either a pick or one more prospect might get it done. He is worth going all-in for not only for this season, but beyond with McAvoy and Chychrun locked up.
Hampus Lindholm – Left Defense
If Sweeney is not able to land Chychrun, Lindholm is not a bad option to fall back on as a shutdown defenseman that is averaging over 20 minutes a night this season. An unrestricted free agent following the season, Lindholm would be another top-four left-shot blueliner that would fit perfectly next to McAvoy. The sixth overall pick of the Ducks in 2012 is another defenseman that plays in all situations and at 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds, he would also add some toughness to a team searching for it.
The 28-year-old has five goals and 20 points this season in 54 games and carries an expensive $5.2 million cap hit. New Ducks GM Pat Verbeek will most likely have to retain some salary, but the Bruins would have a top pair of Lindholm and McAvoy, which is not a bad way to sell on the Ducks veteran to re-sign with the Black and Gold this offseason. He will be expensive this offseason to try and retain, but if some players that are free agents this season left, cap space will open up. A Lindholm/McAvoy pairing in front of goalie Jeremy Swayman is certainly a bright future.
Tomas Hertl – Center
Hertl is going to be one of the top center targets in the next couple of weeks. In the final year of a four-year, $22.5 million contract, Hertl, and San Jose Sharks have not come to an agreement on an extension, which would make him a big rental pickup for the Bruins. The 28-year-old has 22 goals and 20 assists this season and has won 54.6-percent (%) of his face-offs.
Hertl has a $5.625 million cap hit, which any team trading with San Jose would ask to retain some salary, and he is an unrestricted free agent this summer. The return for Hertl would not be as high as Chychrun and the Bruins can sell him on being at least the No. 2 center next season with Taylor Hall on his left or even the No. 1 center should Bergeron not return and he would have Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak as his two wings. Not a bad selling point, but playing out this season with Hall and Pastrnak on the second line the remainder of this season is worth taking a risk on.
J.T. Miller – Center
The Vancouver Canucks are inching closer to the final Western Conference wild card spot, just four points behind the Vegas Golden Kinghts, but if they stumble in the coming weeks, they could be taking calls on Miller. He won’t come cheap as he has one-year remaining with a $5.25 million cap hit and is having a good season for new coach Bruce Boudreau.
He has 21 goals and 40 assists, with six goals and 20 assists on the power play. At 28 years old, the 15th overall pick in the 2011 draft by the New York Rangers would be a big splash for the Bruins. With Vancouver playing themselves back into playoff contention, the Canucks will listen to offers, but it will take a lot to pry him away from Western Canada. The Canucks have been rumored to like Fabian Lysell, the Bruins’ 21st overall pick in the 2021 draft, and begin talks around him. If Bergeron leaves this upcoming offseason, sliding Miller to the top line with Marchand and Pastrnak is a no-brainer.
Rickard Rakell – Wing
For most of the season, the Anaheim Ducks have been hanging around in a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but lately, they have slipped past the wild card slots to 10th place. If they continue their downward trend, they have some pieces that teams are very interested in. Rakell is a wing that can play both sides and supply a team with secondary scoring. A right-shot, slotting Rakell net to Marchand and Bergeron is a perfect move that coach Bruce Cassidy could make.
The Bruins have been linked to Rakell in the past and should be again. He was a 30-goal scorer twice for the Ducks, in 2016-17 and in 2017-18, and has 15 goals this season, including one on the power play Wednesday night in a 4-3 win over the Bruins. Rakell, who some consider as having a down season this year, is an unrestricted free agent following the season, and Verbeek has an opportunity to get some assets in return and a move to the top line with two potential Hall of Famers could be what he needs to get him going with a new team.
Obviously, the Bruins are not going to get all five players. Sweeney needs to prioritize the holes he needs to fill, but with their recent stretch of play as the deadline draws closer, this team is one that appears that he’ll invest in. Any of these players would be a welcomed addition at the trade deadline for not only this season, but possibly beyond. When addressing needs for this season, Sweeney needs to try and also address them for the future.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.