The Boston Bruins are barely clinging to a wild-card berth, and GM Peter Chiarelli is exploring his trade options to try and improve his squad so they can make a strong push for the playoffs. Rumors suggest Dennis Seidenberg, Loui Eriksson and captain Zdeno Chara could be available for the right price.
The once-mighty Boston Bruins find themselves in dire straits in the Eastern Conference standings. They're clinging to the final wild-card playoff berth, with the Florida Panthers threatening to overtake them.
If that seems familiar, it's because the Bruins were in similar circumstances in late-December. At one point they fell out of contention before an 8-1-3 performance in January combined with a Panthers slump vaulted the Bruins back into the playoff picture.
Since Feb. 1, however, the Bruins are winless in six of their last seven games. With the Panthers picking up points in five of their last nine, the Bruins have a tenuous grip on that wild-card berth.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has reportedly sought help for his struggling club since November with keen interest in Buffalo Sabres winger Chris Stewart. His club's recent struggles, however, could force him to bolder action.
Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos reports the Bruins could be willing to trade veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and winger Loui Eriksson. One reason is to cut costs. Seidenberg's earning $4-million annually over the next three seasons while Eriksson has a year remaining at a cap hit of $4.25 million. They must re-sign restricted free agents Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Kypreos also claims the Bruins want to add a forward.
Chiarelli could find it difficult freeing up cap space whilst trying to bolster his depth up front. CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty believes the combination of Seidenberg contract and reduced performance since returning from last season's major knee surgery hurts his trade value. Haggerty suggests Eriksson's shorter term could make him easier to move.
Seidenberg and Eriksson could be shopped separately or packaged together. Chiarelli could toss in a second-round pick he acquired from the New York Islanders in the Johnny Boychuk trade back in October.
The problem is finding suitable trade partners for two aging and expensive veterans. Chiarelli could target non-playoff clubs in rebuild mode with cap space to spend. The Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres spring to mind. The Toronto Maple Leafs could fall into that category, depending upon their moves leading up to the trade deadline. Those clubs, however, could pressure the Bruins into either taking back a toxic contract in return or adding a young player or promising prospect in the deal.
Trade rumors are also swirling around Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson wonders if the Anaheim Ducks could have interest in the 37-year-old Chara, citing their depth in prospects to offer up as trade bait. Such a bold move, however, is unlikely at the trade deadline. There's no indication Chiarelli is shopping his captain, who also has a full no-movement clause.
One player Chiarelli isn't moving is prospect goaltender Malcolm Subban. News of the 21-year-old Subban recent call-up prompted suggestions he was being showcased. Pierre LeBrun, however, cites a Bruins source claiming they have no interest in moving Subban.
CANUCKS' VETERANS AVAILABLE AT DEADLINE?
The Vancouver Canucks are also struggling to retain a grip on a playoff berth. Entering Thursday's game against the New York Rangers, the Canucks were third in the Pacific Division with 67 points. They're also only one point ahead of the surging Los Angeles Kings, who hold the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.
Jason Botchford of The Province believes the Canucks must get younger and faster without diminishing their depth. He expects they'll make some moves before deadline day, listing goalie Eddie Lack, sidelined defenseman Kevin Bieksa and forwards Zack Kassian, Shawn Matthias and Jannik Hansen as potential trade candidates.
Botchford feels the 33-year-old Bieksa could fetch the best return but admits it's unlikely the Canucks will move him. TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports the Canucks aren't shopping the 26-year-old Matthias, who's eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. If they were to trade him, LeBrun claims the Canucks could seek a player-for-player swap.
Canucks GM Jim Benning will keep an eye on the market for a deal which can help his team, but he's stated several times he's not parting with his young players or prospects. Benning is trying to implement change while maintaining a playoff-contending team, which has become a difficult task with key players like Bieksa and Alex Edler sidelined. Regardless of the difficulty the Canucks face in clinching a playoff berth, Benning isn't interested in quick-fix deals.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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