Don Sweeney said at the NHL combine that he’s willing to trade the 18th overall selection in this month’s draft. It’s something a GM should say, as it benefits no one to rule out all options this early.
Yet should the Bruins actually move the pick? They’ve drafted well and they haven’t exactly crushed it in the trade market. Then again, the team has needs and plays in a bad (and therefore up-for-grabs) conference.
Michael Felger expressed concerns over a possible trade involving the pick on Sports Sunday, which were warranted, but the Bruins shouldn’t necessarily be hell-bent on keeping the pick. Some things to consider:
WHY THEY SHOULD TRADE THE PICK
- The Eastern Conference kind of sucks these days. The Senators made it to overtime of Game 7 of the conference finals. Plus, the Capitals won’t be able to keep the best roster in the conference together.
So even though the Bruins are far away from where they once were, this conference might be there for the taking for a mediocre team. You’ve got to imagine the Lightning will bounce back, but adding another legitimate piece might actually make the B’s a contender in a very weak conference.
- There are two obvious needs on the roster: Left wing and left-shot defenseman. If one is out there that’s at a reasonable age and price, the B’s would be wise to explore it.
- Are they trying to contend or not? Zdeno Chara is in the final year of his contract, and although there’s a decent shot he’ll stick around on an extension, he’s 40. That he’s still a very good No. 1 defenseman is impressive, but there’s a whiz-or-get-off-the-pot element to the Chara window.
WHY THEY SHOULDN’T
- The obvious question: What are they going to get? Sweeney has made three trades for first-round picks, but he’s never traded a first-rounder himself. His track record of NHL moves is suspect, as his biggest moves in trade and free agency have netted the Bruins Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey and David Backes, all of whom have been overpays.
A move involving Boston’s first-rounder would present Sweeney to make a potentially significant addition via trade and correct past missteps. It could also add to the list, however.
- What does a first-rounder get you? Excluding deals made by the Bruins, some recent trades at the draft have seen teams acquire Griffin Reinhart, Bobby Ryan and Robin Lehner. In the case of the Ryan trade, the Senators also had to add prospects. So what could No. 18 get the Bruins given their needs?
Two names that come to mind: Gabriel Landeskog, who is signed for four more years at a bad cap hit of $5.5 million and Cam Fowler, who is still 25 and has one year left on his deal. Fowler could be an interesting pickup for the Bruins given that he's a skilled left-shot defenseman and won't cost them big against the cap ($4 million). Plus, Anaheim doesn't have a first-round pick. If the Bruins set out to acquire Landeskog, they should aim to have the Avalanche eat at least $1 million a year of that cap hit.
- As Felger pointed out, spending the pick plays to this group’s strengths. Charlie McAvoy was not the surefire consensus pick at No. 13 last year -- Jakob Chychrun and Dante Fabbro could have been the pick and nobody would have batted an eye -- but Sweeney and his group made a home run of a selection. Same goes for 2015 second-rounder Brandon Carlo. When you’re good at drafting and the jury’s still out on your trading, why not just draft?
- With the buyout charge to Dennis Seidenberg bumping up by $1 million and David Pastrnak set to get something like $6 million a year as a restricted free agent, the Bruins are looking at already being in the upper $60 millions range with a $73 million salary cap ceiling. Perhaps the B’s can shed a pricy contract via trade or by the Knights taking one off their hands in the expansion draft, but it’s not like the Bruins can afford to add a ton of salary this offseason.