Scoring is a problem this season for the Boston Bruins. In their last dozen game stretching back to November 12, the Bruins tallied three-or-more goals in only three games and won only five games over that period.
The Bruins began this week 21st overall in goals per game (2.50). That's a considerable decline from last season, when they finished third (3.15) in that category.
Injuries to first-line center David Krejci and top defenseman Zdeno Chara have contributed to this offensive decline. Another is management's inability to find a suitable replacement for first-line right wing Jarome Iginla, who departed last summer via free agency. Right wings Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith have struggled to fill the void.
Their sputtering offense is partially to blame for the Bruins sitting seventh overall in the Eastern Conference, only three points ahead of the ninth-overall Washington Capitals. It also explains why the Bruins are linked to several players in the trade rumor mill.
Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart and Edmonton Oilers winger Jordan Eberle have been mentioned as possible options. TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports the Sabres are eager to move the 27-year-old Stewart sooner rather than near the March trade deadline, with the Bruins among those reportedly interested. As for Eberle, Oilers GM Craig MacTavish claims he's not interested in moving his core players.
LeBrun also reports Bruins management scouted two recent St. Louis Blues games to watch a “certain forward”. No word on that player's identity but it could be Patrik Berglund, who's also been the subject of trade chatter this season and plays left wing and center. Berglund won't address the Bruins need for a top-six right wing, but the 26-year-old could be used at center if Krejci is sidelined longer than expected.
It's believed the Sabres want a top prospect or a good young player for Stewart. With only four points in 27 games and a $4.15-million cap hit, Stewart's trade value is very low right now. The Blues currently have just over $1.3 million in cap space. If they move Berglund's $3.7-million annual cap hit, they probably won't take much salary back in order to leave room for other moves.
While Bruins fans would love to see Eriksson dealt, his $4.25-million per season cap hit is a major stumbling block. The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa doubts Bruins prospects Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev have much trade value. He speculates second-line center Carl Soderberg would be more attractive to teams willing to part with a “shoot-first” winger, while Smith and defenseman Torey Krug could also attract attention.
The Bruins must ensure they don't take back too much salary via trade. While Chara is on long-term injured reserve, they must ensure sufficient cap space for his eventual return.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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