BOSTON – The wheels are beginning to be set in motion for the conversations, negotiations and game-playing that will lead up to the NHL trade deadline that’s little more than two weeks away, and the Bruins are absolutely in the mix.
The Bruins are eyeing a number of options on the wing with a real deep pool of talent expected to be available leading up to Feb. 26, and have had a longstanding desire to acquire a frontline left shot defenseman as well. The B’s have keen interest in Edmonton Oilers power forward Patrick Maroon, per multiple hockey sources, and it’s clear at this point the Oil are going to be a seller leading up to the deadline with their power forward as one of the big trade pieces.
Edmonton VP of hockey operations Craig MacTavish was in Boston last night at the Bruins/Sabres game to get a look at Boston’s NHL group, and word is that Bruins executive director of player personnel John Ferguson has been scouting Edmonton for each of the last couple of games. Add all of that up and it sounds like a deal may be brewing between the Bruins and the Oilers, a notion that might not have seemed possible three years ago when the Bruins President Cam Neely fired current Edmonton general manager Peter Chiarelli.
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It would appear things have thawed to the point now where Edmonton and Boston would do a deal if it makes sense for both sides. In this case Maroon would be a good fit for a Bruins team looking for some veteran help on the wing, and the Oilers looking to stock up on young forwards and draft picks during a frustrating, lost season.
The 29-year-old Maroon has 13 goals and 27 points in 52 games this season, and would be a straight rental for the Black and Gold as he’s set to hit unrestricted free agency at the end of the season. For a Bruins team that’s pretty young and fairly small on the wing this season, the 6-foot-3, 227-pounder has the ability to put the puck in the net and also play the kind of snarling, strong that the B’s could always use a little more of up front.
Certainly David Backes has brought some of that as well as a third line power forward on the right side, but he’s really the only B’s player among the top-3 forward lines that’s ever going to protect his teammates or throw any board-rattling hits. Maroon would be a guy that could do that as well and has been a prime time Bruins killer potting six goals against the Black and Gold in his last three games played against them.
Maroon is coming off a career-high 27 goals and 42 points last season with the Oilers, and should be in line to get a pretty good contract this summer if he once again reaches the 20-goal plateau that he’s currently on pace for. While Maroon would be a solid rental acquisition for the Bruins, the expectation is that it wouldn’t cost the Bruins any of their top young players or even a first round pick in order to land the player.
The Bruins are taking a pretty open-minded approach to the deadline. They’re more than willing to improve their team, but they also rightfully don’t want to mess too much with a hockey club that’s been the best team in the NHL over the last three months.
“We can always get better. That’s essentially up to Donnie [Sweeney] to decide what’s available and what’s not, but there’s always going to be areas of improvement,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “I’m happy with our club. I love our guys’ togetherness and the fact that they pull for one another. We’ve won a lot of hockey games with some different guys in and out of the lineup.
“We’ll probably get a little bit more of a test as the degree of difficulty goes up on the schedule. We can better assess [potential trade needs]. The long and short of it is ‘I love my team. I love the way they compete. And you can always get better.”
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In that regard, Bruins GM Don Sweeney is in a pretty good spot with a B’s team looking dominant this season before they even consider any trade upgrades, and with a plethora of trade options on the wing that includes Rick Nash, Michael Grabner and Evander Kane. That should keep the acquisition costs down for any of these players, including a guy like Maroon that the Bruins are clearly keeping tabs on right now.