Welcome to another edition of the ESPNBoston.com Bruins mailbag. With the NHL trade deadline upon us, we have plenty of trade rumors to address as many Bruins fans try to figure out what the Bruins need most to gear up for a playoff run. Will Ryan Whitney become a Bruins defenseman or will Jaromir Jagr get dealt to the Bruins and boost their power play?
Those are just a few of the topics addressed:
Q: I know it's almost impossible, but if you had to pick one player who will be on the Bruins by Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET, who is it? Or maybe it's nobody? -- Bill J. (Boston)
A: I'd really keep an eye on Stars forward and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr. According to a source close to the situation on Monday, the Stars were still trying to decide whether they would deal Jagr, who is the team's leading scorer with 26 points (14 goals and 12 assists). If they decide to trade him, then Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli should be on the phone immediately with former Bruin and current Stars adviser to hockey operations Mark Recchi, who is close to Jagr and could help sway a deal to Boston.
Jagr would be a rental, as he is an unrestricted agent in July, but he'd be worth it even if the reports that it would cost a high pick and a prospect are true. I realize that the Stars still have a chance to make the playoffs, but they also want to keep building for the future, and with a deep draft this June, would love to get another first-round pick. Jagr and David Krejci would be a great combo. Krejci gre up idolizing Jagr in the Czech Republic and has played with him on the national team.
Q: I know a lot of the focus has been on the forwards and the lack of scoring, but to me, the Bruins need just as much help (if not more) on the blue line at the trade deadline? Thoughts? Is there anyone available (and likely to be traded) who might help? -- RJ (Pittsfield, Mass.)
A: Edmonton defenseman and Boston native Ryan Whitney is available, and I do know the Bruins and Oilers have been talking. But the Oilers' sudden playoff contention could change things. Of course, another Boston native, Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle, will be linked to the Bruins as he is every year at this time and in the offseason. That actually may be more of a possibility, though, considering the Coyotes' unstable ownership situation and the rise of young blueliners such as Oliver Ekman-Larsson and others in their system. But Yandle will cost a lot -- a top-six forward on the roster plus a pick and/or a prospect.
Someone who may cost less is Yandle's teammate and fellow rear guard Derek Morris, who played with the Bruins in the 2009-10 season until the 2010 trade deadline, when the Bruins traded him to Phoenix for a 2011 third-round pick. Morris has one year remaining on his contract, with a $2.7 million cap hit.
I'd also keep an eye on Avalanche defenseman Ryan O'Byrne, who is a UFA in July, as well as Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, though he still has one year left with a $6.6 million cap hit. Boyle would obviously be a great addition to the blue line of any team, but the price will be high -- similar to the one the Blues just paid for Jay Bouwmeester, a first round pick and prospects. Boyle (36) is older, but he has much better playoff credentials than Bouwmeester (29), Boyle has a Stanley Cup ring with the Sharks while Bouwmeester has never played in a playoff game in his nine-plus year NHL career.
By the way, I agree with you: I think the defense needs more help than the forward group.
Q: I think the struggles on some of the forwards (Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic, Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly before he got hurt) have made people not focus on the fact that the B's are struggling on the back end, too. Zdeno Chara is still one of the best in the NHL, but he looks a little bit sluggish to me lately. He just doesn't look the same. And Dennis Seidenberg has struggled all season. We've seen those two particularly step up in the playoffs when Claude Julien pairs them together, so maybe that will happen again this year. But I'm a little leery based on what I've seen so far. What's your take on the D? -- Paul (Rhode Island)
A: As I said above, I think the defense is a major issue that needs to be addressed and if I was Chiarelli, I'd focus more on that. The transition game coming out of their zone has been average at best this season, and they have made way too many turnovers. They also seem to be leaving too many forwards open in front of the net and scrambling around. I honestly feel for Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin because this has not been the Bruins defense that any of us are used to.
Q: I'm sure the Sabres would rather help out another team, but could you see Jason Pominville being an option for the B's? He's unrestricted at the end of the year, so really, if they're not going to extend him, Buffalo should just looking for the best deal regardless of where it's from. I don't really know what the price would be, but he'd definitely help the B's, that's for sure. -- Vern T. (New Haven, Conn.)
A: You're right that it's rare to see rivals such as the Bruins and Sabres deal with each other in trades and especially one that could see as good a player as Pominville dealt. But stranger things have happened. Still, though, I don't see Darcy Regier helping the Bruins. With the Sabres possibly about to undergo a major overhaul, they don't want to make any mistakes in the process, like allowing their captain to come back to haunt them in the coming years. I'd look for Pominville to go out west if and when he is dealt.
Q: After the Jarome Iginla fiasco, if the price is too high for mediocre players should the Bruins just bite the bullet and stay as-is? If the Bruins are not planning on re-signing Horton, should he be traded to get something? -- John (Montréal, Québec)
As for your question about mediocre players being overpriced, you're exactly right, and that is why there hasn't been as much movement this season. This is a byproduct of the standings and the parity in the league as well as the shortened season. The Jarome Iginla debacle did not help and also will not help Flames GM Jay Feaster going forward.
Q: With the Bruins losing out on Iginla, can you see them going after someone like Derek Roy, Jaromir Jagr or Dan Boyle? -- Kyle (Peabody, MA)
A: As I said at the top of the mailbag, I really think there's a strong chance that Jagr ends up a Bruin if the Stars trade him. The Bruins aren't interested in Roy, from what I am told, because they have enough depth and know for sure he would be a rental who would cost too much. Boyle, as I said above, is another candidate (which basically any Sharks player is at this point).
Q: Murph, do you think Chiarelli should trade the kind of current player who would send a message to the remaining team? Or should the fatigue that every team is going through in this condensed season factor into maybe just sending picks and prospects out of town? In any case, we gotta get a goal-scorer and a D-man, no? Thanks and keep up the good work! -- Dave R. (Lowell, Mass.)
A: It's funny you ask that, because I have been pondering if such a move would work as well. But based on his desire to for now to keep the current core intact, I think we'll see role players from the roster such as Matt Bartkowski and/or Jordan Caron dealt along with picks and prospects. I think your reasoning is good, though. You can't really judge this team too fully on a shortened season like this, but after last season, I was very surprised to see Milan Lucic get the deal he got. I think if Lucic or other core, highly paid players have mediocre seasons again, then you might see that kind of shakeup at the 2014 trade deadline. Personally, I think this team needs such a shakeup that I'm not sure it will make a run in the playoffs this spring.