The Boston Bruins are heating up at the right time. After winning four of their last five contests, they have an 18-11-2 record and sit in the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. With that, it seems likely that they will be buyers at the trade deadline, and they should be calling the Philadelphia Flyers. After a summer of spending, the Flyers have been a disappointment, evidenced by their 13-15-7 record. Although these two teams have a longtime rivalry, the Bruins should target these four players if Philadelphia decides to sell.
Claude Giroux would be just what the doctor ordered for the Bruins. They are in desperate need of a legitimate second-line center, and although the 33-year-old has spent a lot of time on the wing recently, he is a veteran NHL center. That’s been his primary position for most of his career, and he would be an excellent addition in Boston because of it. If the Flyers officially make their longtime captain available at the deadline, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney needs to jump into the sweepstakes.
Even though Giroux is getting up their age, he’s having another very good campaign. In 32 games, he has 11 goals and 29 points. That kind of production would be welcomed with open arms by the Bruins, and the idea of him centring a line with Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak would be frightening for the rest of the league. However, the Ontario native will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, so he’d likely be a rental. Still, he’d make for an excellent one.
Rasmus Ristolainen was one of Philadelphia’s big acquisitions over the summer, but now it seems he could be traded again. The 27-year-old’s contract expires at the end of the season as the Flyers’ chances of being a playoff team continue to decrease. This makes Ristolainen another rental candidate, but one who could land them a decent return at the deadline.
Although the Bruins’ need for another left-handed defenseman should be their priority, Ristolainen would be a notable upgrade over Connor Clifton on the bottom pairing. Realistically, he’s a top-four defenseman when he’s on his game, but this season hasn’t been the best for him – he has one goal, seven assists, and a minus-9 rating. A bounce-back second half may be on the way, as he has four 40-point seasons under his belt. The 6-foot-4 defenseman would also provide much more grit to the Bruins’ lineup with 106 hits already this campaign.
Justin Braun is another veteran Flyer on an expiring contract. Like Ristolainen, he’s a right-handed defenseman who could work well on the Bruins’ bottom pair. Unlike the former, however, he wouldn’t do well playing top-four minutes, but his defense-first style of play and overall dependability on the back end makes him an intriguing option. Furthermore, his $1.8 million cap hit is very affordable, and the Bruins would likely have to give up less for him than the two players above.
Although the Flyers are struggling mightily, Braun has had a solid season for the most part. In 35 contests, he has two goals and nine points. That’s impressive production compared to his six points in 53 games with the team last season. He is also a rare defenseman on the Flyers to have at least an even rating. Although he wouldn’t be the flashiest addition to the Boston lineup, he has a lot of NHL experience and could be an upgrade to the bottom pair. At worst, he’d make for a good depth defenseman.
The Flyers quietly signed Derick Brassard late during the offseason to a one-year, $825,000 contract. He was expected to be a veteran depth forward, but he has exceeded expectations with four goals, 11 points, and a plus-7 rating in 19 games. Although he isn’t dominating the scoresheet, he’s capable of providing offense. That’s something the Bruins could use right about now.
Although Brassard is a center, he isn’t the answer for the 2C position. However, he could work well in the team’s bottom-six or even as a depth forward. He already has more points in fewer games than Jake DeBrusk, Erik Haula, Craig Smith, Nick Foligno, and Tomas Nosek, so as Boston searches for more offense, he would have the potential to cement himself in the lineup.
At the end of the day, the Flyers have some intriguing options for the Bruins. The big prize of the bunch would, of course, be Giroux, but the other three wouldn’t be back pick-ups, either. It’s rare to see a trade between these two teams; the last time they struck a deal was in 2017 when the Bruins traded a third-round pick for Zac Rinaldo. Now would be a good time for that to change.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings 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 NHL Trade Rumors.