It has been noted that as the National Hockey League trade deadline inches closer to Feb. 24, the Boston Bruins are looking to upgrade their top-six forwards and possibly add a right wing to the second line. Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers and Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings have been linked to the Bruins.
While an improvement could be needed to add depth to the forwards, general manager Don Sweeney should also be considering adding to the blue line as well if the right deal becomes available. Below are three possible trade targets for Boston to add to their defense.
1. Brenden Dillon
One name that has been linked to the Bruins is the San Jose Sharks’ big physical defenseman. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, he would be a big physical presence with Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara on the blue line.
Dillon signed his first NHL contract with the Dallas Stars in March of 2011 on a three-year, entry-level contract after going undrafted. On Nov. 21, 2014, he was traded to the Sharks from the Stars for Jason Demers and a 2016 third-round draft pick.
He has played in 584 career games in nine years with 22 goals and 92 assists. This season he has one goal and 13 assists in 55 games. He becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season as his five-year, $16.35 million contract expires. He carries a $3.27 million cap hit this year, but he is worth the rental for a defenseman who brings a physical game that is needed in the playoffs. Chara, Carlo and Dillon would be as physical defensive grouping as there is in the NHL.
2. Sami Vatanen
The New Jersey Devils defenseman is the most expensive unrestricted free agent that could be traded at the deadline, as he carries a $4.9 million cap hit. Judging by his numbers and talent, he would be worth the rental for the Bruins, who could add experience for their defense by acquiring him.
Vatanen shoots right, but his versatility allows him to play either side at 28 years old. He has five goals and 18 assists for the Devils in 47 games this season. He is part of the power play unit in New Jersey and would be a welcomed addition and could slot right in to one of the NHL’s top units in Boston. Drafted in the fourth round by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2009 Draft, he could slot in as a top-four defensemen and possibly be paired with Torey Krug. He comes with a big cap hit, but has the talent to make a difference down the stretch and in the playoffs for a team that is ready to win now.
3. Alec Martinez
Are the Los Angeles Kings at the point of blowing things up and possibly starting a rebuild? They might be. Sitting in the basement of the Western Conference with 43 points, the Kings are approaching sell-mode. With Tyler Toffoli most likely to be moved by the deadline, could Martinez join him? It appears that the Kings will listen to offers to one of the holdovers from the 2014 championship team that played a big hand in the Kings winning the Stanley Cup.
He currently has a $4 million cap hit on his current six-year, $24 million contract in the fifth year. He has been a durable player as he is closing in on 600 career games played for Los Angeles. His scoring numbers are low this year with one goal and seven assists in only 37 games played because of an injury back in November.
He has thrived in the playoffs for the Kings. In the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, he scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 in double overtime to clinch the series against the New York Rangers. He finished with five goals and five assists that year in the postseason.
Drafted in the fourth round and 95th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, he can play on either side. A left-handed shot, he can add depth to the Bruins defensive unit with another year of team control. When healthy, he could a top-four defenseman to solidify the blue line.
With the uncertain futures of Chara at 42 years old and Krug’s contract expiring at the end of he season, Martinez would be an addition that would be under contract in 2020-21.
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.