A look at possible changes for the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins, while Dan Boyle and Martin Havlat won’t return with the Sharks next season.
BOSTON GLOBE/BOSTON HERALD/CSNNE.COM: Fluto Shinzawa believes the Bruins need speed and puck-moving skill on defense, like Phoenix’s Keith Yandle or Vancouver’s Alex Edler. To acquire such a defenseman, Shinzawa suggests winger Brad Marchand or blueliner Johnny Boychuk as trade bait. Prospects like Ryan Spooner, Alexander Khokhlachev, Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky, and Malcolm Subban could also attract interest. Shinzawa also believes Jarome Iginla could return if he’s willing to accept another one-year, bonus-laden contract. RFA defenseman Matt Bartkowski could also be traded. Steve Conroy believes the Bruins “to-do list” isn’t that drastic. He recommends re-signing Iginla, Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, plus rediscover the right fourth-line mix. Joe Haggarty concurs regarding that last point, noting speculation the Bruins could be ready to move on from Shawn Thornton, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins don’t need to blow up their roster but they do need to make a couple of changes to their defense and fourth line. I’ve heard suggestions they should also trade Milan Lucic, especially after his childish antics in this year’s playoffs, but that’s not going to happen. When he’s focused, Lucic is among the best power forwards in the game, and you don’t trade a guy like that. Marchand, however, is another matter, as he really seemed lost this season after the Bruins dealt away his good friend Tyler Seguin last summer. He still has trade value and this might be the best time to take advantage of it. Not sure about trading Boychuk, who I feel is still a solid contributor to the Bruins’ blueline. I agree it’ll take a significant pitch to land a skilled puck-moving defenseman like Yandle or Edler. And no, I don’t believe they’ll have interest in Penguins’ defenseman Kris Letang. Hey, speaking of the Penguins…
SPORTSNET/POST-GAZETTE: Pat Pickens lists four options for the Pittsburgh Penguins this summer to improve their team. Among them is swinging a blockbuster trade, suggesting they offer up Kris Letang to the Vancouver Canucks for center Ryan Kesler. He also expects the Penguins to lose Matt Niskanen to free agency and believes they should bolster their goaltending. Dave Molinari points out the Penguins don’t have much wiggle room in trade assets or cap space. While he doesn’t believe the Penguins need to tear the roster down to the ground, he doesn’t expect it’ll be rebuilt to championship caliber in a matter of months.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Penguins can find a GM willing to take on Letang, an overpaid blueliner who struggles defensively and has a history of health issues, then by all means do it, especially before his new contract (with its limited no-trade clause) kicks in on July 1. However, I’m skeptical such a GM exists. And Letang for Kesler does nothing to address the Canucks lack of scoring forwards, which is a serious problem.
MERCURYNEW.COM/BAYAREA.COM: San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson announced yesterday he won’t be re-signing pending UFA blueliner Dan Boyle. He also said winger Martin Havlat won’t be returning next season and Brent Burns will be moved back to the blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You could see these moves coming for weeks. Boyle is coming to the end of his career, and while still an effective defenseman, they have sufficient depth in younger blueliners to replace him. Havlat could be bought out but Wilson will probably try to trade him first, though it could take picking up half of his remaining $6 million salary or $5 million cap hit to make the deal work. Even then, they’ll have trouble finding some takers.