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If everything remains in place, the Boston Bruins will make their first selection of the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Fla. with the 14th overall pick. But things rarely remain in place on Draft Night. And given the undeniable air of uncertainty regarding the Bruins, specifically in regards to their cap flexibility and their not-so-subtle need to dump a contract or two off their books, it’s fair to assume that ‘the Bruins are now on the clock’ won’t be the first time you hear the Bruins’ name thrown around the draft floor.
Top-line forward Milan Lucic
($6 million cap-hit) has garnered some interest around the league, while Loui Eriksson
($4.25 million cap-hit) and Dennis Seidenberg
($4 million cap-hit) have become go-to options for armchair general managers in search of the right answers for the cap-strung B’s. Teams have inquired on the negotiation rights to pending unrestricted free agent Carl Soderberg
. And even Marc Savard
’s contract -- which carries a $4.007 million cap-hit but an actual salary just north of $500,000 -- has appeal to a team that needs to add salary.
So, here’s a crazy question I’m asking on a Wednesday (I had to check my phone to make sure it’s Wednesday. This offseason is going to be terrible, man.): Could general manager Don Sweeney and the B’s make a real pitch for the third overall pick, currently held by the (Still-in-Glendale) Arizona Coyotes?
Coyotes general manager Don Maloney
has already admitted that teams are coming at him with trade offers to take that third-overall pick off their hands. He’s also admitted that those offers have made him reconsider his initial decision of basically ignoring trade offers and simply keeping the pick.
It would take a lot for the Bruins to pry that No. 3 pick away from the ‘Yotes, and that goes without saying. But something working in the B’s favor on Friday could be Arizona’s interest in Lucic. And their need to add over $18 million in salary to their cap in order to reach the salary cap floor, too.
“There’s been so many different things kind of pushed my way of late I can honestly sit here and say I don’t know (what I’ll do),” Maloney told Sportsnet
on Tuesday. “There’s one team really aggressively trying to get No. 3, and we’d trade down a bit.
“I’ve had two offers outright for that pick.”
It’s believed that any team that trades for that No. 3 pick would use it to draft 6-foot-3 defenseman Noah Hanifin
, which would a potential trade with Boston all the more plausible. By now, it’s become obvious that the Bruins have regained their love of drafting local kids for a number of reasons. They believe that it gives the players a greater push to drive themselves to the NHL level and play for their hometown club, and it also allows them to keep a close eye on them in their own backyard.
And at 6-foot-3, Hanifin, a Norwood, Mass. native, is a face of the franchise type defenseman. The 18-year-old recorded five goals and 23 points in 37 games in his freshman year at Boston College this past season, and has been ranked as the Draft’s third-best piece behind McDavid/Eichel since the start.
Boston’s interest in Hanifin would make sense beyond the local ties, too.
Beyond Hamilton, whom the Bruins still need to sign, the Black and Gold do not necessarily have a high-ceiling defenseman in their pipeline. Torey Krug
, Joe Morrow
, and Zach Trotman
all skate with solid resumes and futures to their name, but none are projected to be a No. 1 or No. 2 defenseman anytime soon. And Sweeney, a defenseman that skated alongside Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, would definitely know the value of a potential two-headed monster on the blue line.
But again, what would the Bruins have to give up to get the pick from the ‘Yotes?
The package would have to begin with the B’s 14th overall pick. You could package that pick, Lucic, Savard’s contract, and maybe prospect Malcolm Subban
to the Coyotes. That’d allow the Coyotes to pick in the Top-15 still (although Maloney has noted that there’s 12 players they feel could be superstars, so maybe that’s a bit out of his range), add a solid goaltending prospect in Subban, and add $10 million in salary between Lucic and Savard. The Savard contract would be a perfect fit for the Coyotes, too, given the aforementioned cap-hit versus actual salary the club would be paying.
With that trade, the Bruins would clear $10 million off their books, giving them more than enough to re-sign Hamilton (along with Brett Connolly and Ryan Spooner), make a decision on either Matt Bartkowski or Adam McQuaid, a backup goaltender, and maybe even add another piece via trade.
At the same time, the B’s depth would take an obvious hit with the loss of Lucic, and with the B’s front office still unsure if they want to move on from Lucic (Sweeney called him a ‘foundational’ player), that could and would likely be the biggest roadblock that’d keep the club from a huge splash like this.
Ty Anderson has been covering the Boston Bruins for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, is a member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association's Boston Chapter, and can be contacted on Twitter, or emailed at Ty.AndersonHB[at]gmail.com