There is no better embodiment of 21st-century Boston Bruins hockey than Patrice Bergeron. The 31-year-old, homegrown center combines grit and talent, and has the hardware to show it.
Stanley Cup champion. Three Selke Trophies. 25th Triple Gold Club member. Gold medalist in both the World Championships and Winter Olympics (twice).
Is Bergeron really someone the Bruins should trade? Because it worries me that I might actually agree with a Felger and Mazz opinion from back in April.
First and foremost, Bergeron may not be someone the Bruins could trade. The Quebec native carries an 8-year, $55 million contract, with an annual $6.875 million cap hit. Not only does this deal pay Bergeron into his age-36 season, but it also carries a No-Movement clause for the next four seasons. This means exactly what it sounds like: no approval from Bergeron, no deal.
But the 2016-17 Bruins look like it could be the worst Bruins club in the better part of a decade. Bergeron isn't getting any younger, and he knows this is a golden opportunity to get traded to a Stanley Cup contender (for which he can be a leader in the twilight of his prime).
Let's assume for a second that the Bruins give the rebuild a green light, and Bergeron agrees to waive the clause. What is the likely return for someone of his caliber?
The most evident benchmark would be the Phil Kessel trade from a few years ago. Essentially, the Bruins gave up a 21-year-old winger coming off a 36-goal season for a No. 2 overall pick (Tyler Seguin), a No. 9 overall pick (Dougie Hamilton) and an additional second-round pick.
Even though Chiarelli destroyed this young talent in the end (and triggered the start of this needed rebuild), this deal became an unmitigated victory for the Bruins. Bergeron can bring a similar haul of young talent.
Now, the trade partner will almost certainly have to be a Cup contender. In that case, the Bruins should still be able to bring in a haul of young, developed talent. Here is a trade proposal that makes sense for both teams:
Tampa Bay Lightning
Bruins get: LW Jonathan Drouin, C Brayden Point, 1st round pick
Lightning get: Bergeron, 3rd round pick
This is actually a slight modification of the deal Mazz proposed back in April (Drouin and Victor Hedman for Bergeron). With Hedman locked up as one of the NHL's best defenseman, however, he's clearly off the table. But this deal works out well for everyone.
At 21, Drouin is an exciting young winger dripping with potential, but don't think for a second that his animosity towards the Lightning front office is gone. He surely still has some desire to leave Tampa Bay for a fresh start and expanded role, and Boston offers both.
The 20-year-old Point is the Lightning's top prospect, and could be the young center prospect to eventually replace Bergeron. He's already cracked the third line in the NHL, and has some experience playing right wing as well.
The 1st round selection, which will almost certainly land in the 25-30 range, is another chance for Don Sweeney to prove his value as a drafter. He's had plenty of opportunities with four Round 1 selections over the last two drafts, and two more in 2017 only gives more merit to a speedy but effective Bruins rebuild.
In all likelihood, Bergeron will remain a Bruin for the rest of the season at least, and this deal would be a deadline move for a Lightning team itching to get over that final hump towards a Stanley Cup. But make no mistake; dealing Bergeron would be an emphatic and effective move towards a much-needed Bruins rebuild.
By Will Brabrook