The Boston Bruins find themselves in a tough spot as the offseason is set to kick into high gear.
Cap troubles have hampered general manager Don Sweeney’s abilities to re-sign budding star defenseman Dougie Hamilton to this point. In fact, there have been no reported talks between the two sides since the season ended back in April. Time is running out before the free agency window opens on July 1 for the two sides to come to an agreement.
Boston also holds the 14th overall selection at next week’s NHL Draft at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. The draft class is regarded as the deepest in recent memory and the Bruins have a big decision to make regarding who they will choose.
There is also speculation regarding possible players and prospects that could be shown the door on Causeway Street. In part one of this series, we review three of Boston’s more valuable assets that could be traded this summer.
For part two, here are three more assets that could be used to acquire bigger and better things for the Bruins.
Brad Marchand has been a model of consistency throughout his career in the Black and Gold. The diminutive forward is Boston’s prototypical pest who also has a nose for the net. He led the Bruins in goals this season (24) and was one of only three players (Max Pacioretty and Cody Eakin were the others) to score at least twice at even-strength, on the power play, shorthanded, and in overtime.
This year saw Marchand notch his fourth 20-goal season in five years with Boston since being drafted in 2006. He may be the closest thing the Bruins have to a bona fide sniper.
It is hard to imagine the club trading Marchand this summer but one has to wonder about his value around the league. The 27-year-old right winger is under contract for two more seasons at a modest cap hit of $4.5 million. However, Marchand has developed a bit of a reputation for low hits and embellishment over his career.
As a result, the Nova Scotia native is consistently under the watchful eye of referees due to his past transgressions. It is a necessary evil that most fans will put up with as long as he is tickling the twine on offense.
Could Sweeney entertain the idea of moving the Nose Face Killah? It is possible but only if the return for Marchand is rather sizeable.
Another interesting name to watch is 21-year-old Alexander Khoklachev. He is highly regarded as one of Boston’s best young prospects and is currently playing in Providence of the American Hockey League. The Russian playmaker led the Baby B’s in scoring this year tallying 15 goals and 43 points for an offensively-challenged hockey club.
Described by Hockey’s Future as a “slick puck carrier, creative passer, and courageous goal scorer”, Khoklachev has the tools to be a consistent point producer in this League down the road.
The only problem with “Koko’s” game may be the one thing that prevents him from seeing regular playing time in Boston. More from Hockey’s Future:
“As with many young scorers his defensive work is spotty at times — as a winger he’s prone to losing his man and as a center he struggles to read the coverage.”
As long as coach Claude Julien is behind the bench in Boston, the five-foot-ten-inch pivotman may struggle to find a permanent roster spot. Khoklachev has just four games of NHL experience but a ton of offensive upside. That may be enough for teams around the League to inquire about what it would take to get him.
On his own, Khoklachev does not have much value. However if he is part of a package deal, Boston’s return may be one to savor.
First-Round Pick (14th overall)
The Bruins will have an interesting decision on their hands next week at the draft regarding their number one choice. This season’s draft class is regarded as one of the deepest and most talented in recent memory.
Sweeney will have an intriguing decision on his hands at number 14. Does he stand pat and take a pretty good player OR will they get aggressive and attempt to deal their pick (along with other assets) to move up? It would take nothing short of a miracle to finagle their way into a top-two selection but drafting in the top-five is not as farfetched as it may seem.
Noah Hanifin, Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner, or Lawson Crouse are all ranked between third and sixth in Central Scouting’s final pre-draft rankings. Any of these players would have a real chance of cracking Boston’s roster next season where a mid-round selection would most likely need at least a year of seasoning in the minors. How aggressive will Sweeney be in his first draft at the helm of the Bruins?
The possibility is also there for them to trade down and acquire more picks but that would not be received too kindly in Black and Gold circles. Nevertheless, pick number 14 could be in play to either move up in the draft or acquire a proven NHL star to help return Boston to prominence next season.
Joe is a writer covering the Boston Bruins. He is a lifelong native of Massachusetts and is currently a content writer/manager for a newsletter at a Human Services Agency. Joe can be found on Twitter: @JoeCherryTHW