With the Bruins in Vancouver for NHL Draft weekend, the next few days will be one of those big opportunities for the B’s to make any significant improvements to their roster.
The Bruins will obviously bring in some young talent with their draft picks starting with the 30th overall pick in Friday night’s first round, but NHL Draft weekend is also a time for big trades and roster shake-ups right after the season. It’s already known that the Bruins will head into this weekend looking to find a veteran top-6 forward willing to shoot the puck, score some goals and hopefully bring added size and strength to Boston’s group up front.
Could New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider be that guy?
The whispers are getting louder that the 28-year-old Kreider is going to be available this summer with the Rangers deep into their rebuilding efforts, and the former Boston College standout headed into the final year of his contract with the Blueshirts.
Per hockey sources, there is strong interest from the Bruins when it comes to the big, speedy and physical winger if he’s available at the right price. Kreider is exactly the kind of big power forward that the Bruins desperately need of up front with a small group that’s had trouble breaking through big defensemen groups over the last few seasons.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Kreider is coming off 28 goals and 52 points despite playing for a Rangers team that clearly packed it in during the second half of the regular season.
Kreider has topped 20 goals four times in his career and gone past the 50-point mark twice in his six full seasons and is coming off a career-high 201 shots on net. He also checks off many of the boxes for Bruins management as a swift-moving skater, a Massachusetts-born and bred player and a former college hockey player after skating for the BC Eagles. It’s clear at this point that the Bruins aren’t shying away from bringing the locals back to play for the Black and Gold, particularly if they can fit a scoring need for the Bruins.
Kreider has one year remaining at a shade under $5 million ($4.625 million) on his contract, and he’ll be due a big raise in the $6-7 million per season range on a contract extension for the 2020-21 season and beyond.
“What do we need moving forward or next year? Yeah, well, obviously I know it’s been talked about at length about another top-six forward, so we’ll see where that ends up. We’re obviously going to need to have some strong centermen coming through the system, as we talked about with where [David] Krejci and [Patrice] Bergeron are,” said Cam Neely. “Our back end, I’m pretty comfortable obviously with [Brandon] Carlo, [Charlie] McAvoy. [Matt] Grzelcyk played really well for us this year.
“Torey [Krug] had a strong year. You know, obviously Zdeno’s [Chara] another year older, but we’ve got a couple good, young lefthanded prospects coming. I think our bottom six was pretty strong this year, so if we can strengthen in the immediate future our top six, you know, that’s something we’d like to try and do. We’ve talked about that for a couple years now.”
There’s clearly an interest and a need for a player like Kreider in trade, but what is it going to cost? If the Bruins are willing to part with their 2019 first round pick and a prospect (Anders Bjork, perhaps?) that might be enough to get it done ahead of tonight’s draft. If not then perhaps the Bruins can offer one of their prospects and their 2020 first round pick while once again betting their pick will be toward the end of the first round as it is with the 30th overall pick in tonight’s first round.
But one can bet on the talks heating up this weekend between Bruins and Rangers GMs that have done their share of trades over the last couple of seasons.
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