The Boston Bruins find themselves in a familiar position as the NHL trade deadline approaches.The B's have a great first line. They are playing well defensively, and the goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak remains one of the league's best. The problem is secondary scoring. It's been an Achilles' heel for the Bruins in recent playoff runs, and it's likely to be a fatal flaw again unless changes to the roster are made.Here's a look at 10 players the Bruins should target before the April 12 trade deadline to bolster their scoring depth and blue line.
This season has been a disaster for the Sabres, who sit at the bottom of the East Division standings with a historic 18-game losing streak entering Tuesday.
Hall was the team's marquee offseason addition and expected to team with No. 1 center Jack Eichel to lift Buffalo's offense to new heights.
But the veteran winger has struggled mightily so far. He has scored only two goals in 34 games.
A change of scenery, combined with the excitement of playing for a contender, could be enough to rejuvenate Hall. Still, the Bruins should not pay more than a second-rounder for Hall, who has not been very productive since winning the Hart Trophy in 2017-18 and having knee surgery in 2019.
Goligoski is a 13-year veteran with 43 games of playoff experience. He's not going to provide much offense -- just five points in 35 games for the Coyotes this season -- but he's capable of taking on tough defensive assignments. He leads the Coyotes in defensive zone starts at 5-on-5 and ranks second on the team in penalty kill ice time per game at 3:22. Goligoski also can play on the left side of the blue line, which is an area the Bruins need to address.
TSN reported in early March that Arizona was
listening to offers on Goligoski. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Granlund is another versatile bottom-six forward target for contending teams with his ability to play center or left wing.
The 28-year-old veteran is a skilled playmaker with 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 32 games for the Predators this season. He's been particularly hot of late with three goals in his last four games entering Tuesday.
Granlund is in the last year of his contract and eligible for unrestricted free agency over the summer.
The Blue Jackets are only three points out of a playoff spot and have shown a willingness to be aggressive at the trade deadline to improve their team -- see 2019, for example.
But if Columbus becomes a seller, Savard is a nice option for contenders to pursue.
Savard is a tough, defensive defenseman who has played 23 to 25 minutes per game in the playoffs for the Blue Jackets in recent seasons. His imposing size at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds would add even more physicality to Boston's blue line.
The 30-year-old veteran will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
Rakell's ability to play center or left wing would add some nice versatility to Boston's forward group.
He has tallied 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 32 games for Anaheim. Rakell scored 30-plus goals in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
The 27-year-old veteran is signed through next season at a team-friendly cap hit of $3.8 million, so he's not a rental.
The Ducks are in last place in the West Division and could be sellers at the trade deadline. If Rakell is available, the Bruins should pursue a deal.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and Ducks general manager Bob Murray worked out two deals before last season's trade deadline, so there seems to be a good working relationship between them.
Something has to give in Nashville, where a loaded blue line likely will create some hard expansion draft protection decisions.
That said, Nashville has won five consecutive games and all of a sudden occupies the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.
It might be pretty hard for Nashville to sell at the deadline given its position in the standings, but if one player from the team's crowded blue line is going to be moved, Ekholm is someone who contenders should covet.
He's a two-way defenseman who excels in a top-four role against quality competition. Nashville has accounted for nearly 54 percent of all shot attempts and 66 percent of all goals with Ekholm on the ice during 5-on-5 action this season. This would help a Bruins team that ranks 30th in 5-on-5 goals.
Ekholm would address another pressing need for the Bruins -- a steady veteran presence for the left side of the blue line. The 30-year-old d-man also brings excellent size at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. He has 65 games of playoff experience, too.
One of the best reasons to acquire Ekholm is his contract. He's signed through the 2021-22 season with a very team-friendly $3.75 million salary cap hit.
UPDATE (Wednesday, April 7 at 8:16 p.m. ET): The Devils traded Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the Islanders for multiple players and draft picks.
--End of Update--
Palmieri has struggled most of the season with seven goals in 32 games. He's also shooting just 8.8 percent, well below his career rate of 12.7 percent.
So, why target the 29-year-old winger? Well, entering 2021 he had scored 20-plus goals in five consecutive seasons. He's also started to play better of late with six points (three goals, three assists) in his last 10 games, including a game-winning goal versus the Bruins on Sunday. Palmieri's eight 5-on-5 points would rank tied for fifth among B's forward.
A change of scenery and playing with better players could be enough for Palmieri to rediscover his goal-scoring form. He'd be a nice third-line addition for the B's.
Palmieri is set for unrestricted free agency in the summer.
Pearson is a middle-six winger with good size (6-foot-1 and 220 pounds) and 51 games of postseason experience. He played in 24 games and won a Stanley Cup title with the Kings in 2014.
Pearson scored 21 goals in 69 games for the Canucks last season, and while he's not scoring at the same rate in 2021 -- six goals in 33 games -- his offensive skill set would definitely upgrade the Bruins' third line.
Pearson suffered an ankle injury a few weeks ago and hasn't yet returned to game action, which complicates matters. However, Sportsnet's Chris Johnston
reported last weekend that Pearson is expected to resume skating soon and could still be traded if the Canucks don't work out a contract extension with him.
The 28-year-old forward is set for unrestricted free agency in the offseason, so he'd be a rental acquisition.
Garland would help the Bruins' 5-on-5 scoring woes. His 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) during 5-on-5 play are more any B's player. Despite shooting a career-low 9.8 percent, he's finding ways to contribute offensively as a much-improved playmaker. His 17 assists in 34 games match last season's total set in 64 games.
Garland also is a local kid from Scituate, Mass., and he's eligible for restricted free agency after the season.
The real question is if the Coyotes will even trade him. He's tied with Phil Kessel as the team's second-leading scorer and the Coyotes are only one point out of a playoff spot in the West Division after winning three consecutive games entering Tuesday.
The Predators' recent surge up the standings likely would make it very difficult to trade away their best forward, especially when he's signed through the 2020-21 season with just a $6 million salary cap hit.
Forsberg leads Nashville with 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 34 games. He has 12 more points than the next highest-scoring Preds forward.
Scoring depth is a significant concern for the Bruins. They rely way too much on the top line. If the B's want to make a meaningful upgrade to their top-six, Forsberg is one of the best players to pursue at the trade deadline.
The cost to acquire him might be too significant for the Bruins, though, especially if they continue to struggle. Forsberg is the type of player a top Stanley Cup contender acquires. You could argue the B's are more than just a Forsberg-type player away from competing at that level.