The Boston Bruins are having a decent 2015-16 season and currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference. However, their season has been frustratingly inconsistent. They entered the All-Star break having won 5 of the last 7 games and had looked to hit their stride, but this comes on the heals of losing 8 of 10 games and looking at another lost season.
Boston faces an interesting problem this season, usually being a team that lacked offense, they have flipped the script and been defensively inept this year. The defense is led by declining veterans, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, and unproven youngsters, Zach Trotman, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow, and Colin Miller. Sprinkle in the injury prone Adam McQuaid and soon too be over-payed Torey Krug and the Bruins blue-line is a mess.
However, the team currently boasts one of the better offenses in the game. Their power play has been top notch and the ever-changing line combinations that Claude Julien concocts seemingly fit every night. Boston has depth down center with Bergeron, Krejci, and Spooner and solid performers on the wing with Jimmy Hayes, Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson, and Matt Beleskey. The Bruins are in a position to deal from this strength and make a move to help the defensive core look more like the offensive core they currently boast.
The obvious name to deal would be Loui Eriksson, who has had his name floated as both an extension candidate and a trade candidate in recent weeks. Loui will command a hefty raise from his current salary if he continues to play as he has all season and the Bruins would be looking for a good young prospect and a pick in any move they make with him. However, the last few weeks have shown that the Bruins can make a splash at the deadline and trade David Krejci.
David Krejci has played in 39 games this season and scored 11 goals with 25 assists, and he is currently under contract through the 2020-21 season for $7.25 million a season. That cap number is about half a million more than Patrice Bergeron makes a season. Looking to move Krejci would definitely turn some heads in the hockey world and simply making him available would have just about every other team placing a call to GM Don Sweeney.
The reason the Bruins could make Krejci available is because of the emergence of Ryan Spooner. Has Spooner been perfect this year? No. But he has shown that he can step up and be a number two center for this team. Spooner can thank Krejci's injury for him being thrust into the spotlight on this team. When Krejci went down with an upper body injury and missed some games, Spooner stepped in and caught fire. He has played in 49 games this season with 10 goals and 27 assists and has shown that he can make whomever he plays with better. The days of Julien benching him for a defensive gaff are gone and he now has the coaches full trust to play all facets of the game.
The emergence of Ryan Spooner makes trading David Krejci a possibility. Trading Krejci will net the Bruins a number one young defenseman and more on top of that. Krejci is a game-changing center that steps his game up in the postseason and has shown the ability to carry a team for stretches. However, he has been plagued by injuries from time to time and moving him would shed that $7.25 million cap hit, which the Bruins could then use to re-sign Loui Eriksson.
Will the Bruins be bold at the deadline and make a franchise changing move to bolster the long term defensive structure of the team while sacrificing one of the game's best centers? Don Sweeney will certainly have plenty of options on his hands if change is in store.
By Dan Cantone