DAB Trade Series: Boston Bruins

Overview

Following a disappointing 2018-19 season, the New Jersey Devils are poised for a big off-season and fans have reason for hope, optimism, and excitement. The Devils hold the first overall pick in June’s NHL Entry Draft, which will most likely be used to select USA Hockey National Development Program phenom, Jack Hughes. In addition to strong draft positioning, the Devils are also set up very nicely in terms of cap space as they have the second-most of any team in the league right now. Therefore, New Jersey can select some of the highest-ranked prospects in each round of the Draft, and just a few days later, they can pitch big contracts to unrestricted free agents. The DAB Trade Series explores the trade market to find the best value or hidden gems that general manager Ray Shero may be interested in bringing in to New Jersey over the off-season.

The Criteria

There are many factors that our editorial team evaluates when compiling our list of players that the Devils could, and should, call about. These factors include…

  • Contract Expiration – The Devils will not be looking for a “rental” player. They’ll be looking for a player that has at least 2-3 years left on their contract, which gives the team total control of the player (and their cap situation) for the foreseeable future.
  • Contract Clauses – These include No-Trade Clauses (NTC) and No-Movement Clauses (NMC), which a player would have to waive to be dealt to the Devils.
  • The Average Annual Value (AAV) or cap hit of each player’s contract.
  • The age of the player (mid-20s is what we are assuming Shero is targeting).
  • Salary Retention – It is possible that the Devils could ask potential trade partners to retain salary if a player’s contract has not lived up to their value on their current team.
  • Position – The Devils will likely be looking to acquire a top-six winger and a top-four defenseman via trade. Any additional depth acquisitions can be satisfied on the free agent market.
  • The Devils’ future Salary Cap situation
    • Players who will be UFAs this summer: Kenny Agostino, Egor Yakovlev, Drew Stafford
    • Players who will be RFAs this summer: Pavel Zacha, Connor Carrick, Will Butcher, Mirco Mueller, Stefan Noesen
    • Players who will be UFAs if no extension before the end of next season: Taylor Hall, Sami Vatanen, Andy Greene, Kevin Rooney
    • Players who will be RFAs if no extension before the end of next season: Nico Hischier, Mackenzie Blackwood, Jesper Bratt, Joey Anderson, Brett Seney
  • The value of each pick in this year’s draft and the organization’s willingness to move that asset.
  • Will the player fit into the system coach John Hynes and the Devils are trying to run (fast, attacking, supportive)?
  • Analyzing trades that Ray Shero has previously made during the off-seasons as Devils GM.

The Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins will look to advance to the Eastern Conference Final with a win tonight over the Columbus Blue Jackets. If the Bruins can accomplish this feat, they’ll be adding even more playoff experience to a roster that’s already loaded with it. NHL playoff experience is an area that the Devils’ roster is sorely lacking in, which may make a couple of Bs attractive targets for the Devils. In addition, the Bruins are rather tight to the cap, with just over $2.8 million available to them today. They will, however, have to sign three UFAs (former Devil Marcus Johansson being one of them) and three RFAs (like defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo) before July 1, which will certainly eat into the Bruins’ cap space and will almost definitely put them over the cap.

Enter the New Jersey Devils. It should be noted immediately that after evaluating the Bruins’ roster to meet the aforementioned criteria, the pickings are pretty slim.

Charlie Coyle

The 27-year-old can play both center and right wing. After being acquired by the Bruins around the 2019 Trade Deadline, Coyle didn’t impress much during the remainder of the regular season but has five goals and seven points during his 12 playoff games so far — which is actually more than the six points (2g, 4a) he put up through 21 regular season games with the Bs. After struggling to mesh with the Bruins, it is possible that they’ll look to deal him and use that extra $3.2 million cap hit to re-sign one of their young defenders like McAvoy or Carlo.

Despite his poor showing with the Bruins, Coyle has a few impressive seasons under his belt with the Minnesota Wild, including a 56-point season in 2016-17 and a 42-point season in 2015-16. In the 2018-19 campaign combined (Wild + Bruins regular season + playoffs), he has posted 17 goals and 24 assists – good for 41 points thus far.

Coyle’s real value, and the main reason the Devils should consider acquiring him, is more for his stature than his point production. At 6’3″ and 220 lbs, he’s Coyle is a power forward that is strong on the puck and still has a good pair of hands. He’s similar to former Devil Pat Maroon in that he can plant himself in front of the net in the offensive zone and on power plays and not be moved by opposing defensemen. He can also drive the crease to collect rebounds or create scoring opportunities from the dirty areas. All things that the Devils are lacking. He’s also not shown hesitation to drop the mitts if needed, which could play to his advantage if he plays alongside Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier on the top line, or next to potential Devil Jack Hughes on the second line.

He could be had for one of the Devils’ second-round picks – likely trading the Bruins’ pick back to them after it was acquired in the Marcus Johansson trade.

Kevan Miller

Similar to Coyle, Miller possesses something the Devils are lacking on the defensive end – physicality and grit. They don’t have a single player on their blue line that can lay a big check or that is willing to stand up for their goaltender, and the latter is a major issue. Miller would do good at addressing both of these areas. He missed the majority of the 2018-19 season due to various injuries, and he doesn’t exactly impress with his point production, either.

He’s got a year left worth $2.5 million, which the Bruins may be happy to send off for a mid-round pick or two. If the Devils are willing to eat the salary for a year, Miller could slot onto the bottom pair and can play penalty minutes or late in the game when the Devils are defending a lead and need to keep their crease clear. Or even if they just need him to land a big hit or drop the mitts to get the energy going. These are things that playoff teams consider, and it’s worthwhile for New Jersey to pick up the phone and potentially take a flyer on Miller if the price is reasonable. Not to mention, the Bruins may be desperate to move him because they really just don’t have a slot for him on their roster next season.

The Devils need to add grit to their lineup, and consulting the Bruins is a good place to start. Whether they target Coyle, Miller, or someone else, they’re sure to get a player that can play physical and drive energy into the lineup.

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1 comment on “DAB Trade Series: Boston Bruins”

  1. Vincois Reply

    Couldn’t agree more on the grit issue with us. I also thought about Ferland (Canes) but I heard rumblings (from a beat writer in N.C.) that he might’ve/could’ve played through recent injury? Being a pussy? Don’t know. He is physical & can contribute offensively. Both those guys would fit nicely. But Coyle is from bean town and doubt he’ll sign elsewhere.

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