On Tuesday night Bob McKenzie of NBC and TSN reported on “Insider Trading” that the Boston Bruins are interested in rugged Buffalo Sabres forward Chris Stewart who is an unrestricted free agent next July. This makes loads of sense as the Bruins could use another forward of Stewart’s ilk to fit in on the first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
Stewart probably wouldn’t cost much (maybe a lower tier roster player and either a prospect or pick) and with Boston having only $3.7 million in cap space they could deal away veteran center Chris Kelly ($3 million) to absorb Stewart’s cap hit of $4.1 million. Factor in that Stewart is a potential UFA and Kelly is a Stanley Cup winner who could mentor the young Sabres squad and there is definitely a fit here. But do the Bruins want to try for a quick fix or shoot for the stars here and possibly secure that right wing slot for at least four more seasons, shutting what has been a revolving door the last two seasons with the departures of Nathan Horton and Jarome Iginla?
On Monday while on The Fan 590 in Toronto, legendary hockey analyst Don Cherry suggested it’s time for the Edmonton Oilers to trade away one of their lottery pick young guns if they want to finally get out of rebuild stage and be competitive. With forwards Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent Hopkins likely set to be mainstays or as close to untouchables as you can get, that leaves fellow young forwards Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle as the likely trade bait. As Cherry pointed out with Yakupov having some character issues and underachieving to this point, Eberle likely has the most value and could net the Oilers the assets they need to finally take the next step back to respectability.
“You can’t trade (Nail) Yakupov, because nobody’s going to take him,” Cherry said. “(Jordan) Eberle or one of those guys have got to go. It’s a tough deal giving one of (the young players) away, but something’s gotta go.”
Cherry is exactly right. It’s now or never for the Oilers to finally fix their situation that has seen the team out of the postseason since 2006 when they lost to the Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup finals. As colleague and good friend Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com pointed out Tuesday, the Boston Bruins may have just the remedy for the dismal Oilers and Eberle could be the remedy for the Bruins’ first line scoring void on the right wing:
While it’s a bit of hyperbole to say nobody would take the No. 1 overall pick in Yakupov, there’s no question that Eberle has significant value on the trade market and is exactly the kind of player the Bruins are seeking to answer their right wing questions along the top line. The Bruins and Oilers have conducted an ongoing trade conversation going back to the beginning of summer involving Johnny Boychuk, and again right before this season’s opening with Chris Kelly on Edmonton’s radar.
Eberle, who has averaged 24 goals and 55 points along with six power play goals over the last four seasons, is the righty shooting goal scorer that the Bruins have been searching for to replace the gaping hole left by the exit of Jarome Iginla, and Nathan Horton before him. Eberle is a little smaller than those players at 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds, but he’s also just 24 years old and signed for four more seasons beyond the current one at $6 million per season.
So the Bruins would have their right wing solution for the foreseeable future if they brought him into the fold. Boston will have to fight through a dysfunctional offense until they find a proper solution on the right side of David Krejci and Milan Lucic, and that means going outside the organization for the answer.
As Haggerty went on to say though, the key for Boston would be meeting the asking price for Eberle. I’d have to slightly disagree with his proposed package of center Chris Kelly, defenseman Matt Bartkowski, and a prospect/draft pick package that Haggerty would offer Malcolm Subban in. First off, as I told ‘Haggs’ on Top Shelf Tuesday, I think the Oilers would start by asking for Brad Marchand and Dougie Hamilton and then if I was them, I’d rather rookie and current Bruins back-up goaltender Nicklas Svedberg over Subban. Svedberg already has an NHL shutout under his belt and appears to be more NHL ready than Subban. I do agree with ‘Haggs’ point on my show that the Bruins will not include Hamilton in any offer though so Bartkowski or McQuaid make sense. But with just one goal in eight games, Marchand can likely be had and holds more value than Kelly.
But no matter who could be involved there seems to be a good fit here and Cherry is exactly right, the Oilers need to shake things up and dealing one of their young guns is the best and probably only way to do it.
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