With David Krejci's relatively serious upper body injury, the Bruins should now be in the market for not only a top winger, but also a top four defenseman. Similar to the Red Sox last season, the Bruins have a good, young core that they should build around, but lack the superstar(s) that will push them over the top.
With so many teams in the playoff hunt, it will be difficult to find teams looking to trade away top talent for a bunch of prospects. I mentioned this in our weekly podcast, but the Bruins have a tough decision to make in the next couple of months: do they trade away some of their picks or young talent for a superstar, or should they wait until free agency and overpay?
With all that in mind, and knowing the positions in which the Bruins are thin, lets take a look at some potential trade targets.
Dustin Byfuglien, Defenseman, Winnipeg Jets
2015-2016 Stats: 35 GP, 9 G, 12 A, 21 Pts
Contract: $5.2 million, UFA on July 1
We talked about this all the way back in August, but Big Buff's incredibly difficult name to pronounce has been linked to the Bruins for some time now. While his weight and mobility will continue to be a problem as he gets older, right now Buff is one of the better, more versatile big men in the NHL. He will play upwards of 20 minutes a game, and, in a full season, could put up north of 50 points.
With 43 career playoff games, including a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, he would provide some much needed experience to a very unproven core of young Boston defenseman. In free agency, Buff will almost certainly be overpaid, but right now, with an expiring contract, he is nothing more than a potential team-changer that the Bruins should be interested in.
Eric Staal, Center, Carolina Hurricanes
2015-2016 Stats: 36 GP, 5 G, 15 A, 20 Pts
Contract: $8.25 million, UFA on July 1
Make no mistake about it, Staal is not the same player that he once was. Age gets the better of everyone at some point, and Father Time has not spared Carolina's captain. With great size (six-foot-four, 215 pounds) and outstanding veteran leadership (2006 Stanley Cup Champion), a contender would be inclined to trade for the pending free agent.
With talks between Staal's camp and Carolina said to be far apart, Carolina could be inclined to trade the franchise cornerstone for some young talent before they lose him entirely. However, if a team like the Bruins trade for him, they cannot rely on him for 30-35 goals and 80 points. He just isn't the same the same guy that he was in 2010. He is another 20+ goal scorer, which, at this point, is something the Bruins do not entirely need.
Steven Stamkos, Center, Tampa Bay Lightning
2015-2016 Stats: 36 GP, 16 G, 12 A, 28 Pts
Contract: $7.5 million, UFA on July 1
I'm not going to try to convince you that this is even a remote possibility, but we have to mention him. At 25 years young, Stamkos is at the perfect time in his career to cash in this offseason. He can do it all, and, most years, is in the best situation he can be in Tampa Bay. However, Stamkos has always had the dream of returning home to the Toronto Maple Leafs and leading them to a Stanley Cup for the first time in 50 years.
To get Stamkos, the Bruins would have to give up a top six forward, a first round draft pick and a prospect. Considering he is a free agent July 1, that is a lot to give up. However, if the Bruins can steal Stamkos away and convince him to sign an extension, the Boston would have a Top 5 player in the NHL. Does the benefit outweigh the cost? I think so...
By Pete Packowski