The Boston Bruins desperately need help on the blue line with the April 12 NHL trade deadline quickly approaching.Injuries are a huge reason why the Bruins must add a defenseman. Kevan Miller and Brandon Carlo are both out of the lineup, leaving the B's with only two healthy top-four defenseman -- Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk. Inexperience also is a concern for the Bruins' defensive corps.Let's take a look at the top five defensemen the Bruins should target at the trade deadline. (All salary information via CapFriendly)
Contract: $4.1M salary cap hit, UFA in 2021
2020-21 Stats: 1 G, 1 A, 12 SOG, 13 GP
The Northeastern product would be a good upgrade for the B's blue line with his excellent size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) and the physicality he brings to the ice. He's also a good penalty killer and averages 2:16 of shorthanded ice time per game.
Manson isn't an offensive dynamo by any means, but he did tally 34 points in 2017-18, so there is some skill in his game.
Another important note on Manson is he has a modified no-trade clause. He can submit a 12-team no-trade list,
The Ducks and Bruins made two trades before last year's deadline, so it would appear Anaheim GM Bob Murray and Boston GM Don Sweeney have a strong working relationship.
Contract: $5.475M cap hit, UFA in 2021
2020-21 Stats: 1 G, 9 A, 49 SOG, 39 GP
Goligoski could play a top-four role for the Bruins given his experience and savvy play. He's not an offensive juggernaut, but he did tally 30-plus points in six of the previous seven seasons.
Goligoski also skates well and can help the B's transition game with a good first pass out of the defensive zone.
The Coyotes are still in the mix for a playoff spot, but if they decide to sell, Goligoski is the perfect player to move given his upcoming free agent status and contending teams needing blue line help.
Contract: $1.15M cap hit, UFA in 2021
2020-21 Stats: 0 G, 2 A, 39 SOG, 35 GP
Kulikov is ideally a solid third-pairing defenseman but would likely play a shut down role on the second pairing if traded to the Bruins. The Devils have a plus-59 edge in shot attempts and a plus-40 advantage in scoring chances during 5-on-5 play with Kulikov on the ice this season. The veteran d-man also would give the B's much-needed experience on the left side of their blue line. He can also kill penalties and ranks second on the Devils with 2:31 of shorthanded ice time per game.
Kulikov is a rental as an upcoming UFA, and his cap hit of just $1.15 million could easily be absorbed by the Bruins.
Contract: $4.25M cap hit, UFA in 2021
2020-21 Stats: 1 G, 5 A, 48 SOG, 39 GP
Savard is another defensive defenseman who would add physicality, shot blocking and much-needed experience to Boston's blue line. He can eat up a lot of minutes (20 to 25 per game) and take on tough defensive assignments as well. Overall, Savard would make the B's tougher to play against.
Savard is a rental target given his upcoming UFA status, and you can bet several contenders will inquire about him, especially if the Predators decide to keep Ekholm past the trade deadline.
The Blue Jackets are unlikely to make the playoffs and should capitalize on Savard's value and get an asset or two for him before he can potentially leave for nothing as a free agent.
Contract: $3.75M cap hit, UFA in 2022
2020-21 Stats: 5 G, 15 A, 78 SOG, 32 GP
Landing Ekholm would be a home run for the Bruins. He's a legit top-four defenseman who drives puck possession, defends well against top-six forwards and can excel on special teams. He'd also fill Boston's need for a left-sided defenseman. Ekholm also has 65 games of playoff experience.
The veteran d-man would not be a rental because he's signed through next season at a very team-friendly cap hit, so the B's could get two playoff runs out of him if acquired before the April 12 deadline.
The problem here is cost and availability. TSN's Pierre LeBrun has reported that the Predators would want a first-round pick, an elite prospect and a third asset" for Ekholm. This would be a very steep price for a Bruins organization that lacks elite prospects (31st ranked prospect pool) and has traded two of its last three first-rounders.
Nashville also might not even be interested in trading Ekholm until the offseason because it now occupies a playoff spot in the Central Division after winning eight of the last 10 games. Trading a star d-man when the playoffs are in sight wouldn't send the best message to the locker room.
The Bruins should make a push for Ekholm, but getting a deal done could prove quite difficult.