On Wednesday, I wrote an article about potential Bruins trade targets at forward ahead of this year’s deadline, which you can find here. However, the more pressing need is a veteran defenseman in my opinion. If they could get a defenseman and a forward for a reasonable price, that’d be wonderful. But, if they’re forced to choose, I hope (and think) that they’ll go after a defender. Here are some defensemen that I think the Bruins should target this year (and one they should steer clear of).
Mattias Ekholm, LD, Nashville Predators
I am in the minority here in that I don’t think the Bruins should go out and get Ekholm. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player, and would likely be a big help. He’s an excellent top-four, left-shot defenseman who has a very reasonable contract (making just $3.75 million through next season). That kind of player doesn’t become available every day.
However, there are several reasons why this is not the smartest option. Ekholm appeared at the top of TSN’s March trade bait board. There will undoubtedly be a bidding war for him. That’s precisely what the Bruins want to avoid. You always end up overpaying for those players.
Even if there by some miracle wasn’t a bidding war, Ekholm will not come cheap. You can say goodbye to at least one young left-shot defenseman such as Zboril or Lauzon, as well as your first-round pick, and there will almost certainly have to be more than that involved. That’s a lot to give up for anyone, especially when you consider the biggest problem you’ll have with him: the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
Yes, I know many people say that you can’t think about that and need to just focus on winning now this year. But, I strongly disagree. I don’t think the Bruins need to make a big move on defense. I think they need to find a reliable veteran to help out the young guys come playoff time. But, you don’t need someone of Ekholm’s caliber. So, why would you mortgage the future, and create a scenario where you will either lose him or Matt Grzelcyk for nothing, when you don’t have to? It just doesn’t make sense to me. So, for that reason, I really hope Sweeney does the smart thing and stays away here.
David Savard, RD, Columbus Blue Jackets
David Savard is another potential option for the Bruins, who creates fewer headaches than Ekholm would. The biggest reason for that is he’ll be a UFA at the end of the season, thus eliminating the expansion draft issue. However, he too will be rather expensive to acquire (although not as expensive as Ekholm). He currently sits at number two on the trade bait board. So, there could easily be a bidding war over him too. But, it won’t be as much of one, because teams will go after Ekholm first and then turn to him if they strikeout. So, if the Bruins were to get in early, they could potentially get him for less.
Savard is a physical right-shot defenseman who’s easily capable of playing 20 minutes a night. While the Bruins have a greater need for a left-shot defenseman, if there is concern about Miller’s long-term status, Savard would be a smart acquisition. He’s a better version of Miller. The Bruins don’t have much grit to speak of on defense outside of Miller and Clifton, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get another gritty guy.
On top of that, from my understanding Savard is capable of playing his off-side if necessary (although obviously, it’s not ideal), so that would be an option too. But, all that being said, if Miller is likely to be fine, I would rather the Bruins look towards a left-shot defenseman. Savard’s cost will be high, especially since the Blue Jackets are not likely to be full sellers. So, if you aren’t certain there’s a need on the right side, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
Vince Dunn, LD, St. Louis Blues
While the Bruins are looking for more a veteran presence, I do think they’ll be taking a look at Dunn. He’s just 24 years old, but he was a big part of the 2019 championship team. He played well during that run though, especially considering it was his first taste of the playoffs. The Bruins need a guy with playoff experience, and he could fill that role.
However, Dunn has struggled in his own zone this season. Part of that could be due to the fact that there appears to be friction between him and either Berube or the team’s upper management. There were pretty significant trade talks before he signed his one-year, $1.875 million deal this offseason, and now they’re shopping him again. That has to weigh on you, especially as a young guy who hasn’t had to deal with anything like that before. So, a change of scenery could do wonders for him.
The only question is what his price will be. The Blues are reportedly asking for a first-round pick for him, which seems about right. But I don’t think Sweeney will be willing to do that, because if he’s giving up a first-rounder, he’s going to be getting a sure bet, which Dunn isn’t necessarily. He’s also an RFA at the end of the season, so he’ll create an expansion draft headache. If the Blues are willing to come way down from their asking price, then Dunn could be worth the gamble and it wouldn’t hurt too much to lose him to Seattle. But, if they don’t, then I don’t think it’s worth it at all.
Alex Edler, LD, Vancouver Canucks
Edler is yet another potential option for the Bruins at this deadline. But, he is seemingly the longest shot of the bunch. Why is that? Well, it’s hard to say whether or not he’ll be available. He has a full no-move clause and seems to want to stay in Vancouver. But, now there are rumors that he’d be willing to waive that if it meant he could chase a Stanely Cup. He could do that in Boston, so if that rumor’s true, he would most likely accept a trade to the Bruins.
The Canucks are going nowhere this year, so even though Edler is their longest-tenured player and playing big minutes for them, they need to consider trading him. His contract expires at the end of the year and his value is high right now. So, it should be a no-brainer if he’s willing. Which, considering the rumors and the fact that he could just go back to Vancouver next season if he really wanted to, he’d be stupid not to be.
So, that brings us to the next question: what would the Bruins be getting with Edler? Well, they’d be getting pretty much exactly what they need. A left-shot, veteran defenseman on an expiring deal. He’s a smooth skater who consistently plays 20+ minutes a night, and at 34 years old, brings a lot of both regular-season and playoff experience to a very young Bruins defense. He could potentially be somewhat expensive given his status with the Canucks, and ideally, you’d want Vancouver to retain some salary, which only jacks up the price. But, he’d be cheaper than Ekholm and Savard. If he’s in fact available, the Bruins should absolutely try to get him. He’d seemingly be a great fit.
Alex Goligoski, LD, Arizona Coyotes
Last but not least, we have Alex Goligoski. His contract is up at the end of the season, and he’s unlikely to re-sign in Arizona, so they’re looking to trade him. Given this, he shouldn’t be too expensive to acquire. The Coyotes are facing an uphill battle if they want to make the playoffs this year, with it looking more likely than not that they’ll miss. So, it makes sense for them to take whatever they can get for him instead of letting him walk for nothing.
As for what Goligoski would bring to the Bruins, they’d get a minute-munching (he averages 22 minutes a game), physical, shot-blocking, left-shot, veteran defenseman. That fits the bill for what the Bruins need most right now pretty perfectly if you ask me. He’s also historically good offensively, putting up 32 points in 70 games just last year (although he has just one in 22 this year). So, he might be 35, but he can certainly still play. His experience and playing style would be a big help to this Bruins defense.
Out of everyone on this list, he’s my pick for the Bruins to really target at the deadline. The biggest problem the Bruins will face in acquiring him is making the salary work. He makes $5.875 million and the Bruins only have $2.5 million available, and would likely just send a draft pick or two back to Arizona. Luckily, it seems likely that the Coyotes will agree to retain some of it because it doesn’t seem as though they’ll be looking to add in anticipation of a playoff run. So, while he isn’t being talked about much as a potential option, I think he’d be a great fit in Boston.
I know I’ve probably angered many of you with this article. I’m definitely in the minority that I don’t think the Bruins need to add a great defenseman if they hope to make a long playoff run. I think adding a lower-cost veteran who’s physical and can eat some big minutes is the best course of action. We’ve seen that the Bruins defense as it is now is really good (especially when it’s healthy). But, the physicality and heightened pressure of the playoffs is likely to be a bit difficult for the likes of Zboril and maybe even Lauzon. If they have a veteran to fall back on and learn from though, it’ll be a lot easier.
So, that’s why I think Edler and Goligoski are the Bruins’ best options here. Both are veteran defensemen who will bring a lot of experience to the lineup at what could be a relatively low cost. However, since it’s not certain that Edler will be available, I’d say Goligoski is the best bet here. Plus, he’d bring more physicality than Edler, which, in the playoffs, is never a bad thing.
Again, I know my opinion is going to be unpopular, so feel free to yell at me accordingly on Twitter. But, I truly believe this is what would be best for the Bruins. Who do you think the Bruins should target at the deadline? Let us know over on Twitter or in the comments below!
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images.
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