For the past several seasons, the Bruins have headed into the trade deadline with an eye on upgrading their situation on the wing and it appears this year will be no exception. With that in mind, NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty mentions that Rangers winger Chris Kreider appears to be their top target between now and next month’s deadline.
While the interest certainly makes sense on the surface – a contending team looking at an impact power forward – the fit could be a bit tricky. Boston’s weakness up front is on the right wing while Kreider is a natural left winger where the team has some depth at that position in Brad Marchand, Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, and Danton Heinen. The latter two have shifted to the right side in the past and acquiring someone like Kreider could certainly have one of them making that switch again.
The Bruins also find themselves with limited cap space. They’re currently using LTIR on defenseman Kevan Miller but he has resumed skating and is expected back this season so they’ll already need to ensure that they’re in cap compliance when he returns. Per CapFriendly, the team is projected to have $712 in cap room; even with a player getting sent down when Miller comes back, that’s far from enough space to add Kreider and his $4.625MM AAV, even if they were to retain the maximum 50% in any deal.
GM Don Sweeney will also have to be mindful of the potential for a bonus overage. Zdeno Chara has already reached $1.25MM of his bonuses while he’ll earn another $250K if the team makes the playoffs which is a safe assumption at this point. Making a move for Kreider (or a similarly-priced player) will basically guarantee an overage which will carry over onto the 2020-21 cap.
The Rangers aren’t entirely out of the playoff picture themselves and it’s quite possible that if they go on a run themselves, they could opt to hold onto Kreider. Having said that, it doesn’t appear as if they’ve had any discussions about an extension as of yet so a trade at this time still seems like the likelier scenario. Of course, there will be plenty of other teams vying for his services as he may wind up being the top rental player that’s moved over the next month.
It was only two seasons ago that the Bruins and Rangers made a rental deal of significance just before the trade deadline, one that saw Rick Nash go to Boston for a collection of picks, prospects, and players to help make the finances work. They may have to make a similarly-structured deal in order for Boston to land their top target this time around.