Sizing Up An Oilers/Bruins Trade

Boston Bruins v Ottawa Senators - Game Five

Edmonton Oilers insider Bob Stauffer dropped an interesting bit of information on Sunday night during Edmonton’s battle with the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place. Stauffer made note that Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney was in the house watching the contest.

Sweeney, of course, took over as GM of the Bruins when the club fired Peter Chiarelli in the spring of 2015. Sweeney was assistant GM under Chiarelli for a few years prior to taking the job, and from all indications the two have a good relationship. Chiarelli and Bruins President of Hockey Operations Cam Neely, however, did not have a great relationship when Chiarelli left the club.

As a result, the sides have yet to hook up on a deal since the management shuffle in both cities. That’s pretty rare, considering the Edmonton-Boston trade line goes back to the 1980’s. These sides haven’t made an impact deal since the 2006 trade deadline (Sergei Samsonov to Edmonton) but the line is certainly there.

The Obvious Trade:

There are two players, one on each team, that stick out like sore thumbs here. They are Milan Lucic and David Backes. Backes was a favorite of Ken Hitchcock’s in St. Louis and has struggled since signing a five year contract in Boston.

Lucic, meanwhile, has struggled mightily in Edmonton after his first season with the club. One could argue that Lucic simply has not been an effective five-on-five forward since arriving in town, and you’d be in tough to find a good argument against that point.

Lucic was a fan-favorite in Boston and one of the most symbolic Bruins of their recent glory run. He was a huge part of their 2011 Stanley Cup victory and a core member of the team that made the final two years later. He’s struggled in Edmonton, but don’t rule out what a return to Boston could do for him.

Lucic loves the city of Boston and took a level of pride in being a Bruin that I’m not sure he’s been able to replicate since leaving months after Chiarelli was let go.

I tend to believe that Lucic, heading back to Boston tasked with protecting a B’s team that has had liberties taken against it, would thrive returning to Beantown. Will that bring the offense back? Maybe not, but he’d be reunited with old pal David Krejci and I think would be rejuvenated with Boston’s core of veterans.

Backes, meanwhile, was one of Hitchcock’s most trusted players in St. Louis. The pressure of his contract would be off in Edmonton, as the Oil didn’t sign him to the deal and people could allow him to just be what he is as a player. You really wouldn’t lose much in the physicality department, and I’d argue Backes is a better five-on-five player at this stage of their respective careers.

I could easily see Backes sliding onto the ‘identity’ line and having just as much success as Lucic has to this point.

Both players are making $6,000,000 per season, while Lucic carries a NMC currently. I don’t think Milan would need any convincing to waive for Boston, although I’m sure the Bruins will be leery about the fact that Lucic’s contract runs for an extra two years.

Other Possibilities:

The Bruins are arguably the most banged up team in hockey right now, and need help in a few different spots. There were ample Oscar Klefbom/Torey Krug rumors in the summer, but Klefbom is the number one defender under Ken Hitchcock and I can’t see the Oilers moving him during the season. He looks back to form.

Matt Benning, a former Bruin draft pick and Northeastern product, could be of interest. I’m not sure Edmonton has the defensive depth to make a trade from that spot right now, but Benning makes sense for the B’s as a mobile defender with a nasty side that can jump into the lineup with Zdeno Chara out and injury concerns with Charlie McAvoy.

Boston has long had interest in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but he too is a Hitch favorite and I doubt Edmonton has the depth to handle dealing him without another impact forward coming back.

The Bruins are frustrated with their injuries right now, and internally they believe they need to get tougher. They aren’t willing to go the enforcer route, but a player like Lucic certainly has appeal to the club right now.

It would take an equal contract coming back, but this trade does make sense for both sides and for both players. We’ll see if anything like this materializes over the next little while.

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