By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins have made plenty of draft picks in recent years and have ended up with one of the NHL’s more impressive crop of talented young prospects. But this summer, GM Don Sweeney appears poised not to draft another player but to flip the Bruins’ first-rounder for a more established player.
Help could be on the way for the Bruins’ still-rebuilding defense.
Fortunately for the Bruins, it appears that they have their No. 1 defenseman of the future in Charlie McAvoy, whom they can transition to over the next year (or more) as Zdeno Chara’s career winds down. Chara and young Brandon Carlo are virtually locked in as a pairing next season, but the Bruins do have a fairly large question mark next to McAvoy, a right-shot defenseman. Sweeney doesn’t want to put Torey Krug next to McAvoy and would almost certainly prefer to pair the 2016 first-round pick with a left-shot defenseman who has some experience under his belt, rather than another green young prospect like Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, or Matt Grzelcyk.
That’s why the name Jonas Brodin has popped up in a fresh trade rumor involving the Bruins and Wild. The 6-foot-1, left-shooting Brodin already has five years of NHL experience and would be a solid, steady two-way option for the B’s. He won’t wow you with anything in particular, but he lacks glaring weaknesses. He’d be responsible in his own end and hold his own on offense enough to be a nice complement on a pairing with McAvoy.
A “hockey source” reportedly told CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty that “attention should be paid” to trade talks between Boston and Minnesota Wild for Brodin’s services. On the surface, it doesn’t look like an attractive option for the Wild to trade the 23-year-old Brodin, who is under team control for the next four seasons at $4.166 million.
But the Wild also have a glut of defensemen that they have to choose to protect ahead of the expansion draft and may have to go with the 7-3-1 format, meaning three defensemen would be protected. They would then likely opt to protect 22-year-old former first-round pick Matthew Dumba over Brodin, a move that would urge them to facilitate a trade in order to get stuck losing the latter for nothing. (Former ESPN hockey writer Pierre LeBrun wrote a nice breakdown of the Wild’s situation in December.)
That being said, would a package of the Bruins’ 2018 first-round pick (No. 18) and the rights to restricted free agent Ryan Spooner be enough to land Brodin? Probably not, as the Wild may also ask for one of the aforementioned left-shot defensive prospects and/or another pick. But Sweeney, who previously tried to trade up in the 2015 NHL Draft before striking out and selecting three players in a row, sure sounds like he’s exploring that possibility.
“The right deal didn’t take place [in 2015],” said Sweeney at last week’s NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. “I can’t say that it’s going to at this time as well, but it’s certainly an area I’ve looked at that if we can improve, then we would move it.”
Considering the deep pool of prospects the Bruins have already assembled in just the last two years, especially on defense, Sweeney could package this year’s first-rounder for Brodin without significantly impacting the long-term outlook of the team. Brodin would also markedly improve the Bruins’ blue line in the short-term and potentially fit very well with McAvoy. It’s also worth considering that 2018 isn’t one of the stronger drafts in recent memory, which could ultimately force the Bruins to offer a larger package than what’s been speculated in a trade.
But Sweeney certainly looks ready to move the pick for the right deal, and there’s a chance that the Bruins could land a solid partner for McAvoy in the process.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.