The rental Bruins should be targeting & more NHL trade deadline thoughts


Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Tuesday that David Pastrnak’s injury hasn’t changed the GM’s approach to the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline. On, Wednesday Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that that might be true, but that the Bruins had already returned to scouring the rental market before Pastrnak was injury.

“Maybe they go for someone with term or team control, but they are looking to add,” Friedman wrote.

With that in mind here are some quick hits while the Bruins prepare for three games in California:

Stone’s worth a ransom

Friedman also wrote that a lot of the trade market is waiting on what Ottawa decides to do with rentals Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel, and potential restricted free agent Cody Ceci.

There’s a chance Stone re-signs with the Senators, but if he becomes available in a trade he might be the only high-end rental the Bruins should acquire at all costs because of Columbus’ Artemi Panarin’s declaration that he’s going to test the UFA market no matter what July 1. Stone, 26, is a two-way force and the type of player the Bruins should want to re-sign long-term and a guy the core and management could convince to stay. Assuming they get the idea they could retain him beyond this year, they should go for it.

Now paying Stone upwards of $9 million after this season would be tough, but trading for him in the first place would probably remove Jake DeBrusk from the Bruins’ roster and payroll. Stone’s the only rental, and maybe only available player on the trade market, that would make it palatable to trade DeBrusk. Although DeBrusk has shown the potential of a future star, Stone is the ready-made thing and at his age would make the Bruins instantly improved and set them up for the future.

In fact, Stone is also the only rental worthy of giving up the Bruins’ first-round pick. Would a package of DeBrusk and the first be enough? Maybe not, but the Bruins really shouldn’t be expected to sweeten their package too much unless they somehow get assurances Stone’s going to be in Boston for the long haul. A second-tier prospect like Jeremy Lauzon or Jakub Lauko should be enough to tantalize Ottawa.

Second-tier wings

Larry Brooks at the New York Post reported Wednesday that the New York Rangers haven’t had any contract talks with Mats Zuccarello or Kevin Hayes. So Brooks draws the conclusion that both pending UFAs are getting traded.

The price for the 26-year-old Hayes will be too steep for the Bruins to take a chance that he could come home and continue to round into a consistent top-six center. But Zuccarello should be getable for less than the likes of Panarin and Stone. The 31-year-old wing would be a strong fit on the Bruins’ second or third line, and if he came at the expense of Peter Cehlarik and a mid-round draft pick, that would at least keep the Bruins’ offense humming without Pastrnak.

Of course the question is: if the Bruins were shopping for forward help before Pastrnak’s injury, will they add two forwards to cover themselves if Pastrnak doesn’t heal as quickly as they’re hoping.

In that case, how about they pick up Zuccarello and Dzingel without touching their first-round pick, their high-end roster players or their top two prospects (Urho Vaakanainen and Jack Studnicka). They could go this route and then worry about where everyone fits when/if Pastrnak returns. They'd diminish their organizational depth, but put them in position to at least have a puncher's chance against Tampa Bay.

Crazy to get Kovy

Twice Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos has pointed out that the Bruins were the runners-up in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes last summer and that he would probably waive his no-trade clause to come to Boston. But the reason the Bruins lost the bidding was because going to a third year with the 35-year-old would clog up their future budget. Now that’s he produced 11 goals, even at a reduced rate (Kypreos said the Kings could retain up to 25 percent of Kovalchuk’s salary, reducing his cap hit to about $4.75 million) it makes even les sense to bring in a diminished Kovalchuk and have him take up so much cap space, even if somehow the Kings were willing to take back David Backes’ cap hit.

At least a diminished Backes is willing to work hard and provide leadership, there’s no telling what Kovalchuk would be like around the dressing room if his play continues to slide.