3 Bruins’ Early Trade Candidates in 2022-23

With the 2022-23 season still over a month away, there is still plenty of time to speculate about how the season will play out: who will improve from last season, who will regress, what teams will emerge as early favorites, and which ones will falter out of the gate. It’s also the perfect time to start to imagine what the next blockbuster trade will be. Even though August is traditionally the slowest month of the year for the NHL, there are certainly some big names still floating around.

The Bruins will be an interesting player in the trade scene this season. They’re low on cap space, but still have Patrice Bergeron to re-sign and maybe even bring back David Krejci. They may need to make a trade sooner rather than later to clear cap space, though.

There is also less certainty as to how this season will play out for the Bruins. They’re not as sure of a contender as they have been in the past and there is a real possibility they may be sellers at the trade deadline in March for the first time in years. Obviously, it is too early to know for sure, but it will certainly be interesting to see how the 2022-23 season plays out and how it affects the trade market for certain players on the current roster. These three are guys to keep an eye on in the next few weeks as the start of the season approaches and eventually begins.

Mike Reilly

Mike Reilly’s name is one that has been tossed around a fair amount as a potential trade piece. He’s about to start the second year of a three-year deal that carries an average annual value of $3 million. While he had a great start to his tenure in Boston after being acquired at the 2021 Trade Deadline, he struggled last season and was even a healthy scratch at times. 

The Bruins don’t have a ton of guys on their roster that they could get a good return for and after last season’s performance, they probably wouldn’t get a huge return for Reilly either. But, they only used a third-round pick to acquire him from the Ottawa Senators, so it’s not like they spent a lot to get him either. Trading him would more than double their current cap space, which would be incredibly valuable.

Mike Reilly, Boston Bruins
Mike Reilly, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Bruins of course have a pretty dire injury situation on defense at the moment with both Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy set to miss the start of the season, which is most likely why a Reilly trade hasn’t happened yet. He’s currently projected to be paired with Jakub Zboril as the third pairing defenseman when opening night rolls around in October. 

However, the Bruins have young defenseman Jack Ahcan waiting in the wings. He’s coming off a 23-point performance in 46 games with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) last season and should be given a real shot at making the opening night roster.

If Ahcan has a good preseason and training camp, it may be in everyone’s best interest to give him the third pairing spot and make the trade. Reilly could benefit from a change of scenery and the Bruins could save cap space and finally start giving some legitimate chances to their prospects to become full-time NHLers.

Trent Frederic

In my last article, I said that this is a make-or-break year for Trent Frederic, particularly with how it relates to his future with the Bruins, as he obviously struggled to find a consistent spot in the lineup under Bruce Cassidy’s system. The 2016 first-round pick has had some great moments so far in his young career, but he plays a fearless style of hockey, which often veers into the territory of reckless.

Related: 3 Bruins Who Need to Step Up in 2022-23

If Frederic continues to struggle under Jim Montgomery this year, a change of scenery may be better for everyone. Since he’s still young, the Bruins could get a decent return for him. He’s also only 24 and there is still plenty of hockey left for him to play. Many people would love to see it be in Boston, but he may be one of the few players that could draw some moderate interest around the league.

While Frederic brings a necessary toughness to this roster, the Bruins are in more desperate need of consistent scorers. If he can’t find more of an offensive game, they can find toughness from other guys on the roster who wouldn’t have as much of a trade market as Frederic could garner. Only time will tell when it comes to his future in Boston.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith is the name that might really start circulating if things aren’t looking great as the trade deadline approaches. He has performed decently in Boston with some really great stretches, is signed to a decent contract, and is in the final year of a three-year contract, making him a perfect rental candidate for a contender.

Craig Smith Boston Bruins
Craig Smith, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s obviously too early to tell if the Bruins will be buyers or sellers at this year’s trade deadline, but if they are sellers, Smith would probably garner the most interest. With how competitive the Atlantic Division has become, it feels a little bit less of a certainty that the Bruins will make the postseason this year. 

Even if they are not sellers at the deadline, the Bruins may still be interested in moving him at some point this season if talks stall on an extension. The team needs to garner assets, and it would not be in their best interest to let a talent like Smith leave in free agency without getting anything in return.

Bruins Remain Quiet

As already mentioned, things get quiet around the NHL when August rolls around. This is not in the Bruins’ favor, who still have a lot to get done, namely clearing some cap space to potentially sign Bergeron and Krejci. At the moment, they could hardly afford one of them, let alone both.

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There is a real possibility that they may end up trading someone for little return just to generate some more cap space. Either way, it doesn’t look like anything will be happening right now. As a result, fans may be left waiting until September to see what the Bruins end up doing.