Simply put, there’s plenty of demand for quality defensemen, but teams aren’t especially anxious to supply them.
CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports that the Boston Bruins are hoping to trade for Florida Panthers blueliner Dmitri Kulikov. They’re being proactive yet could also be described as merely “kicking the tires.”
There are two pretty big bumps in the road, however.
First, the price would probably be pretty difficult to stomach:
The sticking point with Kulikov is that he’s essentially a rental with one year to go until unrestricted free agency, and the cost would something in the neighborhood of Boston’s 29th pick in the first round and a Frank Vatrano-level prospect. That’s a stiff cost, and it should give everybody the kind of premium price tags associated with defensemen on the trade market for the next few months.
The other consideration is that Kulikov might not even be on the rental shelves, according to the Miami Herald’s George Richards:
As this video illustrates, the Bruins might just be stuck.
The Bruins say they’re being aggressive to improve in this area, but it could really be a sellers’ trade market this summer, especially with the list of targets shrinking with each day.
The Boston Bruins have plenty of work to do this summer. They’ll need to work out new contracts with potential UFA Loui Eriksson and RFA Torey Krug. There’s also another important contract they’ll need try to tackle in the coming weeks.
Brad Marchand, who led the Bruins in goals with 37, has one year remaining on his contract at $4.5 million. After scoring a career-high 61 points in 77 games in 2015-16, Marchand will certainly be in line for a significant raise.
The Bruins don’t want to waste any time when it comes to working out an extension with a player of Marchand’s importance.
“We’re going to look at Brad right away…early on here in the process once we get past that first wave in July,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, per CSN New England. “We’ll have some good discussions. We’d prefer that we’re tracking on the earlier side of things. He’s a big part of our hockey club.”
Here’s an excerpt from Joe Haggerty’s story:
A 6-7 year contract north of $6 million per season would seem the starting point for a guy that’s been better than an “OK player” while serving productively as Patrice Bergeron’s partner-in-crime for the last six seasons.
One thing there’s no doubt about: Marchand had a career-changing year while scoring a career-high 37 goals, taking a step up in the leadership department and bringing the effort, focus and intensity every single game. Marchand also showed a developing maturity to his game when he apologized publicly for a hit that got him suspended for the Winter Classic against the Canadiens, and was always accountable in the postgame dressing room whether it was win, lose or shootout.
It’ll be interesting to see if the two sides can work out a deal prior to the start of training camp.
With the opening of free agency less than a month away, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has said he’s had discussions with agent J.P. Barry about Loui Eriksson, the team’s pending unrestricted free agent coming off a 30-goal season.
Given his production in the regular season — in addition to his 30 goals, he also recorded 63 points — the soon-to-be 31-year-old Eriksson could attract plenty of attention on the open market. If he gets there.
“I met with J.P. and his group this week, and we’ve continued to have discussions to see if we can find common ground. We’re getting closer to July 1. Does he feel the itch [to test free agency]? Maybe. But I’ve said all along I respect what Loui brings to our hockey club,” Sweeney told CSNNE.com. “If we don’t find common ground with Loui then we’re going to have to replace him.
“There have been some good discussions. The onus is on us to display what level we’re willing to commit to Loui, and as he knows on the door to free agency that is important to him. It comes down to how far we want to stretch.”
Despite his contract status, the Bruins didn’t move Eriksson at the trade deadline, meaning there was the possibility they could lose him for nothing if he decides to test the market in the summer.
That was the risk at the end of February. The beginning of free agency looms closer now.
There was also a nugget of info on Bruins’ forward Brad Marchand and his future in Boston.
From the Boston Herald:
The Bruins intend to begin efforts in July on a contract extension for Brad Marchand, who can be a UFA after next season.
Alexander Khokhlachev’s time with the Boston Bruins is up, according to a report out of Russia that has the 22-year-old forward signing with SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL.
The deal reportedly won’t be announced until after June 30; Khokhlachev is under contract with the B’s until then. But the fact he’s apparently decided to depart for the KHL should come as no surprise.
A second-round draft pick in 2011, Khokhlachev has spent the last three seasons piling up points in the AHL; however, he’s only appeared in nine NHL games.
Earlier this month, his agent told CBS Boston, “Alexander did not really get a chance for all the years that he signed a deal, for four years, the deals he signed with Boston, didn’t really get a chance to play in the National Hockey League, so he won’t stay in the organization.”
SKA acquired Khokhlachev’s KHL rights last summer.
Related: Khokhlachev just wants a chance
Bruins forward Brad Marchand had a fantastic 2015-16 NHL campaign. He set new career-highs in goals (37) and points (61), but some were still surprised to see his name added to his country’s World Cup roster on Friday evening.
Team Canada always has an embarrassment of riches to pick from when assembling their teams, so when players like Taylor Hall and Corey Perry are left off the roster, it leaves some people scratching their heads.
It was clear from the beginning that GM Doug Armstrong’s decisions wouldn’t be unanimous with fans and media personalities. When there’s that much talent to chose from, several great players will be excluded from the roster. But one thing is clear about the Marchand selection, he’s on the team because he can play.
“It’s an incredible honor to play for Team Canada. It’s something that I think we all take a lot of pride in, and something that is…it’s not an easy accomplishment,” said Marchand, per CSN New England.
“I think being part of a team like this is on a different level, and people may give a little more respect to that fact and may look at more of the kind of player I am, other than just the stuff they’ve seen in the past, with the hits and being a pest and stuff like that. Maybe those people will realize that I’m an OK hockey player, and I do play the game as well.”
Marchand likely won’t figure into a top-six role with Canada, but a partnership with teammate Patrice Bergeron on the third or fourth line definitely isn’t out of the question.
The Bruins forward has represented his country on five different occasions. Most recently, he helped Canada win gold at the World Hockey Championship in Russia earlier this month. Marchand had four goals and seven points in 10 games for Canada during the tournament.