With recent rumors floating around that the Boston Bruins and Loui Eriksson having started extension talks, it is time for the Bruins to look at all the options available to them. Eriksson is in the midst of his best season with Boston since he came over as the centerpiece of the trade that shall not be name with the Dallas Stars.
He has 15 goals and 23 assists to go with his plus ten (+10) on the ice. He has already surpassed his 37 point season in 2013-14 with the Bruins, which included only 10 goals, and is nine points away from matching last seasons total of 47, with 22 goals. Currently on pace for about 30 goals and 70 points makes it sure that there will be no shortage of interest in Eriksson during free agency this off-season.
The Bruins must now decide what to do with him. Loui will easily command a five or six year deal worth about $6 million per year in free agency and it would stand to reason the Bruins would be better addressing a major area of concern with that money: the defense. Boston currently boasts a deep collection of defensemen, most of which do not appear to be bona fide number ones.
Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg both appear to be on the down slope of their careers, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller are both defensive minded players with little offensive upside and little history of remaining healthy, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, and Colin Miller all are unproven and when given the chance have not really stepped up, and Torey Krug is a free agent after this year that is going to get paid by someone to be a number one defenseman when he is really a lesser Mike Green.
To improve this entry of the roster the Bruins could go two ways, and both ways include saying goodbye to Eriksson.
First, the Bruins could let Loui walk after the season when he reaches free agency. Although unlikely, because they would lose him for nothing, it would free up money to track down a true number one defenseman.
The second and best option would be a trade. Eriksson has been great this year. He plays on the power play, the penalty kill and has been adept at both. What team would not want a winger like that?
Hopefully, that is what the rest of the league sees. The Bruins could flip Eriksson for prospects and slide David Pastrnak, Jimmy Hayes, or Brett Connolly up the depth chart and not miss a beat. Here, Boston would get something in return while also freeing up some money. If Arizona could get a first round pick for Vermette last year, the Bruins should at least be able to match that for Eriksson.
Another trade route would be to directly target a number one defenseman who happens to be young and gives the Bruins the option of locking him up long-term; his name is Kevin Shattenkirk.
Shattenkirk is a 26-year-old puck moving defenseman that the Bruins can build around. He is a local boy, playing college hockey at Boston University, and is a free agent after the season.
This year he has put up 9 goals and 18 assists while posting a negative eight (-8) on the ice. Shattenkirk is said to be on the block and the St. Louis Blues are looking for scoring. What better way to solve everyone's problems by trading Eriksson and Kevan Miller and a 3rd or 4th round pick to St. Louis for Shattenkirk. Then instead of trying to convince Loui to sign long term, pull on the heart strings of the local product to remain home and anchor this defense.
One things for sure, for the Bruins to get better in the long term, it means saying goodbye to Eriksson.
By Dan Cantone