Since the Boston Bruins likely are done with the free agent market — and they still have a lot of the same team at forward — it seems likely there’s a trade on the horizon.
They likely are at a standstill overall until they sign their restricted free agents, the trio of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen. With just over $10 million in cap space to keep them all, there’s a salary crunch.
There’s been plenty of speculation — for years, in some cases — about how the Bruins might use a trade or two to build their roster for the next season and beyond. The popular conversation these days revolves around Torey Krug, and clearing the final year of his $5.2 million annual contract off the books.
The Bruins are plenty deep on the blue line, especially after extending Connor Clifton for three more years.
Krug, though, was an integral part of the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Final as a top-four defenseman and the quarterback of the power play. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has been on the record saying it would take something big in return coming back to trade him.
The other player potentially on the move is David Backes.
The B’s didn’t buy out Backes, who counts $6 million against the cap for the next two seasons. He didn’t play the final three games in the Cup Final, and his future as a regular contributor with the team seems grim.
The Bruins would have saved $1.3 million over the term of the contract — and only $333,333 next season — if they bought him out, so they opted to keep him. But given how some teams around the league have been able to ship out bad contracts, there is a glimmer of hope for the Bruins finding the right deal.
The Maple Leafs dumped Patrick Marleau’s contract to Carolina before the Hurricanes bought him out, but had to attach a conditional first-round pick to the deal.
The Bruins have all the ingredients to indicate that an offseason of wheeling and dealing, at least from a trade perspective, isn’t over yet.
Since the Bruins still have needs that went unaddressed in free agency, the door is wide open to acquire talent from somewhere else in the league.
One likely target is the Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi, a pending RFA who wants — and probably needs — to get out of Edmonton. The 6-foot-4 former fourth overall pick checks a lot of boxes for the Bruins, and the Oilers should be motivated to deal him.
Puljujarvi is a right wing, too, so he might stand out as a low-risk trade target with the ultimate high reward in a new spot.
Edmonton has just $3 million in projected cap space as well, so that could take some juggling, and it might not even be the exact move in which the Bruins are interested.
It’s at least a blueprint of what other action may happen this summer. Whether they’re done with free agency beyond their own restricted free agents or not, there’s still work to be done.