With All-Star weekend wrapping up in Toronto, the focus of the NHL season now shifts to the stretch run to the playoffs.

The Trade Deadline is just over one month away, so time is of the essence for teams to bolster their rosters. Vancouver and Winnipeg kicked off the arms race by snagging Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan, the top two Centers on the market. Depth down the middle is probably Boston’s biggest need, and the top names are off the list. Now who should the Bruins target at the trade deadline?

The first hurdle Boston needs to clear before making any moves is the salary cap.

At the moment CapFriendly projects the Bruins to have $862k in available space at the deadline. Not nearly enough to make a move unless they look to offload salary in any deal. In all likelihood the salary dump would have to come from the defense, as eight different blueliners have skated in at least 20 games.

Matt Grzelcyk and Derek Forbort both have expiring contracts counting at least $3m against the cap. If either moves Grzelcyk is more likely, as Mason Lohrei plays a comparable game with room to grow. HockeyStatCards also grades Forbort much higher than Grzelcyk and dealing Forbort would have a bigger impact on the defense.

If Boston is able to create cap space, who do they trade for?

Arthur Staple of The Athletic compiled a list of the biggest names to look for on the market. While the list is geared towards the New York Rangers, there’s a strong overlap with the Bruins needs as well. Staple named Adam Henrique, Jack Roslovic, Alex Wennberg and Yanni Gourde among available Centers.

Adam Henrique – Henrique is a natural center currently playing top-line left wing for the Anaheim Ducks. He has 15 goals and 33 points in 49 games, with 17 points coming at even strength. He’s an effective penalty killer, shot blocker and wins 53.4% of his faceoffs. Henrique has some playoff experience, having gone to the 2012 Cup Finals with New Jersey as a rookie. Henrique would surely be an upgrade over Morgan Geekie as the third line center, or start up top with Marchand and Pastrnak.

Boston has a history with Anaheim at the deadline, having dealt for Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, and Hampus Lindholm since 2020. Henrique’s $5.8m cap hit poses a big challenge to fit and Anaheim will surely want a large sum in return.

Jack Roslovic – Roslovic is a third line C/RW who’s having a tough season for his hometown Blue Jackets. He currently has just 2 goals and 10 points on the season at a -13 rate. His underlying numbers imply better performance than his counting stats, but the $4m cap hit is a turn off. It’s possible he could flourish on the B’s third line, but only at a low cost and retained salary.

Alex Wennberg – Wennberg is currently the second line Center for a Seattle team on the fringe of wild card contention. He has 8 goals and 20 points in 50 games, which is a slight down pace from last season. He’s a penalty kill specialist and has played the most PK minutes of any Seattle forward. He’s one of the most prolific shot blocking forwards in the league, but analytically compares to a more expensive Morgan Geekie. In this case the B’s are better off standing pat.

Yanni Gourde – Gourde is a name Boston should be all too familiar with from his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning. His prowess as a defensive center made him a thorn in the Bruins side for years. Like Wennberg, he also comes from Seattle and  is one of their most important penalty killers.

Gourde offers a little more scoring punch than Wennberg but his defensive analytics are exceptional. He would not come cheap at a $5.2m cap hit, but he would solidify a Bruins PK that is just 27th in the NHL since New Years.

The NHL Trade Deadline is March 8th, so there’s plenty of time for Don Sweeney & Co to prep before making a move, if they choose to at all.

 

Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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