Loui Eriksson. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Bruins may seek help on their top line if Loui Eriksson continues to struggle. Meanwhile, teams may come knocking for the services of maligned Calgary D-man Dennis Wideman.
The Boston Bruins resolved their cap issues and blueline logjam with their recent trade of defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders, but there's another roster problem to be addressed.
CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty believes Loui Eriksson is a third-line winger with the Bruins, doubting he'll ever become the offensive force they believed he would become when they acquired him in last year's Tyler Seguin trade with the Dallas Stars.
Two concussions and a heel injury sidelined Eriksson for 21 games last season, limiting him to 10 goals and 37 points in 61 games. The 29-year-old went scoreless in the Bruins’ opening three games this season before tallying his first goal in the their 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Monday.
Haggerty believes the Bruins need another top-six forward at right wing to replace the offense of Jarome Iginla, who departed this summer via free agency. Finding such a forward this early in the season, however, won't be easy.
If the Bruins are interested, the Buffalo Sabres could have what they're looking for in wingers Chris Stewart and Drew Stafford. The pair are eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and it's doubtful they have long-term futures in Buffalo. TSN's Bob McKenzie believes they could be parlayed into a promising young prospect.
The Bruins still have considerable depth on defense they could draw upon as trade bait, but they currently possess about $2.24 million in cap space. Adding Stewart ($4.15-million cap hit) or Stafford ($4 million) means sending a salaried player to Buffalo in return. Given the Bruins’ limited cap space for next summer, retaining either of them beyond this season could be difficult.
For now, the Bruins’ best option could be using Reilly Smith as a first-line right winger and hoping Eriksson improves over the course of the season, or perhaps using youngsters David Pastrnak or Seth Griffith as second-line right wingers.
WIDEMAN MARKET ISN'T WIDE OPEN...YET
Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman saw third-pairing minutes during the club's season-opener against Vancouver last Wednesday and was a healthy scratch for the Flames’ second game of the season versus the Edmonton Oilers. He returned to the lineup Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, logging more than 22 minutes of ice time.
The decision by coach Bob Hartley to sit Wideman, the Flames' highest-paid player ($5.25 million per season), could resurrect the trade speculation which cropped up last month about the 31-year-old blueliner.
Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News recently responded to a reader's question about the Stars perhaps pursuing Wideman. Heika believed they might be interested but considered it a tough trade to make, citing Wideman's cap hit and the Flames’ asking price as potential stumbling blocks.
Wideman could address the Stars' need for a right-handed defenseman. The Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks share a similar need. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, however, recently reported Flames GM Brad Treliving shot down the notion of trading Wideman because Wideman carries a full no-movement clause.
Should Wideman end up in Hartley's doghouse throughout this season, he could become amenable to a change of scenery, especially if it's to a club deeper in talent like Anaheim, Dallas or Detroit.
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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