Report: Bruins tried to land Vrbata, Kulikov before deadline

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The Boston Bruins have made a surge up the standings since firing Claude Julien and replacing him with Bruce Cassidy.

GM Don Sweeney tried to reward his team’s effort by making deals for a couple of key rentals, but in the end, he made one trade with Winnipeg for Drew Stafford.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Bruins were interested in Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata and Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.

Both players are on teams that likely won’t make the playoffs and they’re both set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. But Arizona and Buffalo decided it was better to keep them than trade them for whatever was on the table.

“They were in on Radim Vrbata, and, at one point, some of the other teams in that bidding thought the Bruins would get him,” wrote Friedman.

‘Yotes general manager John Chayka was reportedly asking for a second-round pick in return for the veteran winger, who’s on pace to hit the 20-goal and 60-point marks. When Chayka’s price wasn’t met, he decided he’d prefer to hold on to Vrbata.

As for Kulikov, he’s been limited to 38 games because of a lower-body injury. Because the Sabres gave up Mark Pysyk, a ’16 second-round pick and a ’16 third-round pick to get Kulikov and a ’16 second-round pick from Florida at the draft, they likely weren’t willing to give him away either.

Even though they appear to have turned their season around, the Bruins still aren’t a lock to make the playoffs. Sweeney was criticized for giving away multiple draft picks at last year’s deadline (he gave up a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick for Lee Stempniak, and a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick for John-Michael Liles) only to see the Bruins miss the playoffs.

If they fall short this season, all they really lost was a sixth-round pick.

Heading into Saturday’s game against the Devils, here’s how they stack up in the East:

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