The Boston Bruins should be looking to upgrade their roster as we get closer to the trade deadline. Their Stanley Cup window is closing, as core members like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Tuukka Rask are in the back half of their careers. If Bruins expect to go on a run, they will have to become buyers – the Atlantic Division is stacked, after all – and management should be contacting their 2021 postseason rivals, the New York Islanders.
At this point, the Islanders have a 15-14-6 record and are sixth in the Metropolitan Division. They trail the Bruins by 15 points for the second wild-card spot but have five games in hand. They aren’t out of the playoff picture entirely, but they will need to make a big push to get there. But if they continue to lag behind as the season progresses, the Islanders will be sellers this spring, and here are the four players the Bruins should target.
It would feel weird not to include Zdeno Chara on this list. The 44-year-old defenseman captained the Bruins throughout his 14-year tenure with the club, and Boston is where he cemented himself as an elite shutdown defenseman during his prime seasons, including a Norris Trophy win in 2009. After the team decided not to re-sign him during the 2020 offseason, it’s been strange watching him play elsewhere. If the Islanders are out of playoff contention, it would be worth bringing him back.
Now late in his career, Chara is better-suited for the bottom pairing and, considering the Bruins’ defense, there’s a good chance he would be used as the seventh defenseman. Yet, adding him for depth wouldn’t be a bad thing. Even at his age, he’s still a dominant force physically, and it would be great to have another leader in the locker room. He also only has a $750,000 cap hit.
Josh Bailey continues to come up in rumors, so his long tenure with the Islanders may be coming to an end. However, for the Bruins, he would be more than just a rental. The 32-year-winger’s contract doesn’t expire until after the 2023-24 season, and, at this point in his career, he hasn’t shown any real signs of regression. In fact, over these last few seasons, he has picked up his play and emerged as an offensive threat.
In 30 games this season, Bailey has three goals and 16 assists. He’s known to be a pass-first player, so his low goal totals aren’t concerning. He is also capable of playing both left and right-wing, so the Bruins would have options with him. However, given Boston’s weakness on the right, Bailey could compete for a spot in their top six with Craig Smith. Furthermore, he could be utilized on both the power play and penalty kill; he’s an all-around solid player worth considering.
Many Bruins fans focus on adding a top-six center and big-name defenseman. Although the Bruins would benefit immensely from doing this, it wouldn’t hurt to acquire a bottom-pairing defenseman for the right side. After Jakub Zboril’s season-ending injury, Connor Clifton won his job back. However, adding a little internal competition would be very good for the Bruins, and Scott Mayfield is a very appealing option for that.
Like Bailey, Mayfield’s name has turned up in the rumor mill since last offseason, and he would be an upgrade over Clifton. In 35 games this season, he has two goals and eight assists, so he could chip in a little offense from the back end. He also has an affordable $1.45 million cap hit until the end of 2022-23, which is a bonus. If the Islanders drop off again and he’s available, the Bruins should jump on that opportunity.
Every playoff team needs depth, and Zach Parise would provide just that. His best days are behind him, but he still could be a serviceable bottom-six or extra forward. In 35 games this season, the 37-year-old has three goals, nine assists, and an even plus/minus rating. He also has shown signs of improvement, with two goals and two assists over his last four contests. Perhaps he’s on the verge of becoming more of an offensive threat.
Parise wouldn’t be a monstrous splash, but he would give the Bruins another decent option upfront. Also, Nick Foligno has been dealing with serious injury trouble all season, so adding another bottom-six left-winger might be wise. With that, the Minnesota native only has a $750,000 cap hit, making him very affordable.
It would be great if the Bruins and Islanders could strike a deal before season’s end. However, for that to happen, the latter will have to completely fall out of the playoff race. They have a lot of catching up to do, but considering how good they were just last season, New York shouldn’t be counted out yet. However, if they do become sellers at the deadline, any of these four players would be great to have in Boston.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.
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