Jonas Brodin Wild

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Jonas Brodin rumors mark start of trade market Bruins have to jump into

Best bet at improving defense is through deal

Ty Anderson
June 09, 2017 - 3:30 pm

Be it because of no-movement clauses, strong play, or their importance to the team, the focus of the B's protection plan -- which will likely protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie -- seems to be a lock. The same simply cannot be said for far too many teams to count in the NHL. And that's where a team like the Bruins, one with too many holes to realistically expect all their promising prospects to fill come next October, can pounce and use the trade market to their advantage. 

You've begun to see that plan kick somewhat into gear, too, with the word that Sweeney is willing to trade the club's first-round pick for a deal that provides immediate help, and with the rumor mill churning out potential links between the Bruins and Wild for a trade involving defenseman Jonas Brodin.

"There’s going to be a lot of conversations I know that Don is going to have with -- whether it’s other GMs or [Golden Knights GM] George McPhee, for that matter -- on seeing what his appetite is and what his interest is," B's team president Cam Neely said at a May press conference. "But there’s always a fear that you’re going to lose a player that you may want to hang on to."

That fear, for those teams previously mentioned with far tougher decisions to make with their protection plans, comes with losing a player for nothing. Deductive reasoning would indicate that one of Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, or Colin Miller will move to Vegas via expansion this month. If the subtraction doesn't come from there, perhaps the Golden Knights take a gamble on Matt Beleskey (a glue-guy that put up a career-high in points just two seasons ago), or invest in a project like Malcolm Subban as the organization's third goalie. But those ventures seem a bit unlikely (to say the least) when you look at the immediate impact that could come with a selection of one of the club's defensive bodies, and either way, it's not something that dramatically changes the B's future plans. 

The Bruins are looking for an offensive boost on the left side, and their defense, even if expansion takes a body off it, remains a work in progress. It's a defense that Neely wants to see upgraded, too, which seems rather impossible without a subtraction coming from the group via expansion or a separate trade. Neely has also hinted that the club would have an interest in a left-shot defenseman that can provide some relief for the the harder minutes that have been absorbed by the 40-year-old Zdeno Chara for over a decade now.

And this expansion trade market, beginning with Brodin's name dropped, should have plenty of those.

The Wild don't want to move Brodin as much as it's that they seemingly have to. Unable to protect all four of their high-end defensemen -- Brodin, Matt Dumba, Jared Spurgeon, and Ryan Suter -- the thinking is that a deal involving one of those skaters would help the club recoup some of the assets lost in deadline buy-in deals, and would be better than losing them for nothing.

They're not wrong in that thinking, nor are they alone.

Much has been made about the Ducks' situation, and rightfully so, with a full deck including Kevin Bieksa (no-movement clause), Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, and Sami Vatanen on their backend. It's worth noting that the B's had an interest in Fowler last offseason, but the prices were too high for their liking. Fowler now may be off the board now, too, after a strong postseason showing for Anaheim. Vatanen has seemingly become the name to watch with that club. The Islanders -- with Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, and Thomas Hickey -- are in the same boat. The 6-foot-1 de Haan, a left-shot defenseman and restricted free agent this summer, on the heels of a career-best five goals and 25 points for the Isles last season, could make sense for the Bruins, too. You could even make a case that the Blackhawks, Sharks, Kings, and even the Panthers are in situations where they could seek to get something for a player while they still can. 

They're trade talks that the Black and Gold absolutely must be involved in, too. 

When you look at what's seemed like a three-year quest for defensive improvements, it's always been the price that's kept the Bruins away. The Blues wanted both of the B's first-round picks in 2016 and David Pastrnak for one year of Kevin Shattenkirk. The Jets reportedly sought Ryan Spooner, Brandon Carlo, and a first-round pick for Jacob Trouba. The prices have been utterly outrageous. 

But now, with their options limited -- why say no something when you could very well lose him for nothing? -- their leverage to ask for an actual ransom is now gone, and it's a buyer's market. It doesn't mean that the Bruins can offer Jimmy Hayes, Malcolm Subban, a fifth-round pick, and the NHL rights to Alex Khokhlachev (remember him?) and acquire a top-pairing defenseman, but it means that the asking prices for a player of Brodin's caliber are entirely closer back to something found in this solar system. 

This is where the patience of Sweeney seemingly has to pay off for this team. 

Sweeney has done his part to rebuild a depleted prospects pool, he's resisted the urge to make desperation deals when things seemed at their worst, and he's put the club in a situation where trading their first-round pick (18th overall) would not destroy this club's future. At the same time, the Bruins are in a situation where they have more than enough middling talents either in the NHL or AHL ranks where they could move one or two of those, along with that aforementioned first-round pick, without compromising the core of the franchise's future. It would actually probably make some sense for the Bruins to do this, too, as the increase in NHL-close prospects has seemingly created a logjam that's only going to get 'worse' within the next year or two. 

“It’s an effort to try and improve our hockey club," Sweeney said of his willingness to part with this year's first-round pick. “We have had a number of selections the last couple of years and we feel that they’ll all materialize into very good players for the Boston Bruins and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t explore what could improve our hockey club now in the shorter term.

"Some people have looked at me sideways at times when holding three first-rounders [in 2015] and not being able to do something at that point in time. The right deal didn’t take place. I can’t say that it’s going to at this time as well, but it’s certainly an area I’ve looked at that if we can improve, then we would move it.”

The Bruins, of course, won't be alone in their vulture-like pursuit of an impact player from one of these teams, which will most definitely create a bidding war. 

But even so, the price may never be more right than it will be for the next (chaotic) two weeks.