Winnipeg Jets Trade Deadline: Best Buys From the Bruins

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 21: Winnipeg Jets Right Wing Joel Armia (40) tries to get a position on Boston Bruins Defenceman Brandon Carlo (25) in front of the net. During the Winnipeg Jets game against the Boston Bruins on December 21, 2017 at TD Bank Garden in Boston, MA. (Photo by Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 21: Winnipeg Jets Right Wing Joel Armia (40) tries to get a position on Boston Bruins Defenceman Brandon Carlo (25) in front of the net. During the Winnipeg Jets game against the Boston Bruins on December 21, 2017 at TD Bank Garden in Boston, MA. (Photo by Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The pre-season pundits predicted the Boston Bruins out of the playoffs this season. The retooling franchise has quickly become the Beasts of the East. The Winnipeg Jets have similarly stunned analysts by surpassing expectations. Why would two of the NHL’s best and possible Stanley Cup Final adversaries have any trade options? They call it “a hockey trade.”

The Winnipeg Jets are flying high in the west. Pushing through a revolving door of injuries to stay in a dogfight for the central crown with the Nashville Predators. It has become clear that the Jets are a legitimate cup contender this season. It has also become clear that the west is once again wide open and the other teams are looking to make trades to put themselves over their rivals. The Los Angeles Kings has started the arms race with the acquisition of Dion Phaneuf. Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff cannot afford to let the teams around him improve and get an edge on his team.

Why Boston?

Boston has two regulation losses since Dec. 14th going 20-2-4 and sporting an NHL best 18 game point streak along the way. When your players have that kind of chemistry going you don’t mess with it. So don’t expect to see big names like David PastrnakBrad Marchand, Brandon Carlo, or Charlie McAvoy. That’s not gonna happen. However, the Bruins are stocked with good prospects and can afford to move some to improve. The Winnipeg Jets need roster players to improve the team now for the cup run, but getting young roster players will set up the team for more than just this season. There are in fact some trades that can go down between these two teams that would benefit both. Let’s take a look at some of the targets Kevin Cheveldayoff might look at:

Ryan Spooner

Ryan Spooner is that one puzzle piece in the box that never quite fits with where you put it but seemingly almost fits everywhere. The natural center keeps getting pushed to the wing because of his face-off percentage (38% last year, improved to 50% this year) and his uncanny ability off the half wall during power plays to set up goals. Spooner has had a bad wrap in Boston without much reason and could be a player that blossoms on another team. Ryan is 9-15-24 and +11 in 35 games played this season. He would be a boost on the PP along with adding speed and offensive skill to the Jets line-up.

Given that Spooner is playing 2nd line RW at the moment next to David Krejci he is the biggest candidate to be moved in favor of a forward acquisition like Rick Nash or Patrick Maroon. The good news is that the cost would not be harsh, a 2nd rounder and a medium prospect could get it done. This would be a cheap upgrade option for the team at forward and PP while getting a guy who can play in both top 6 and bottom 6 roles.

Ryan Spooner would add speed and depth scoring to the Winnipeg Jets
NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 07: Ryan Spooner /

Riley Nash

Boston’s 3rd line of Danton Heinen, Riley Nash, and David Backes has size, skill, and scoring. They get both gritty and skill goals consistently and are one of the big reasons Boston is tied for 2nd in the league in points with Vegas. The former Carolina Hurricane has blossomed in Boston going from a 4th line grinding center energy role to a two-way center on the 3rd. Nash would be an upgrade over Matt Hendricks while playing the same role. He also has the ability and skill to move up the line-up if injuries continue and could be one of those low-key acquisitions that cup winners tend to have on their runs. Nash would also be cheap to acquire with a mid pick and prospect. But they would have to sweeten the pot to pry him out of Boston.

Matt Grzelcyk

Matt Grzelcyk broke into the Bruins line-up early this season during their injury hobbled months of October and November. The undersized rookie showed his trademark transition flair with speed and long passes through the neutral zone. Since then he has bloomed into a solid offensive left side blueliner that has been surprisingly solid defensively. He has a good hockey IQ and can jumpstart offensive transition from defense lightning quick. While still on his ELC he would be costly to acquire. However, he is already showing signs of being a solid NHL player early and exceeding expectations. He would look fantastic in a Jets uniform springing players like Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers.

So why would the Bruins let go of such a player? Their cupboard is too stocked. Grzelcyk is not good enough to replace Torey Krug and would be the odd man out if the Bruins bring in anyone at the trade deadline at LHD. They also have plenty of defenseman in their prospect pool that will need room to move up as soon as next season. That means that Matt may be the odd man out as talent begins to rise in Boston. If the Bruins go all in on Ryan McDonagh or nab a depth LHD veteran to take the minutes weight off of Zdeno Chara, look to Don Sweeney to try to recoup his costs by dealing this guy.

Frank Vatrano

DETROIT, MI – FEBRUARY 06: Frank Vatrano
DETROIT, MI – FEBRUARY 06: Frank Vatrano /

The Bruins signed Frank Vatrano as an undrafted player from the US college system in 2015. The local Massachusetts boy rewarded Bruins management the next year with 10 goals in his first 10 games in AHL Providence. Since then Frank has played over 100 NHL games with the Bruins in the last three seasons. However, The talented sniper has not been able to break into the line-up this season over rookies Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen. Vatrano has been a healthy scratch for several games already this year and could use a change of scenery on a new team that has room to play him. He is decent defensively and can play a bottom 6 role as well as a 2nd line scoring role. He has a doozy of a shot and good offensive instincts.

Since being benched for his early defensive miscues by former Bruins coach Claude Julien, Frank has shelled a bit and worked on his 200 ft game. This has reduced his scoring touch and he has since been passed over for other prospects that are more consistent. Vatrano is the prime example of a gamble. His ceiling is still pretty good and a team taking a chance on him could be rewarded quickly. Since he is currently the odd man out as extra forward the Bruins would love to move him to free up a roster spot. The cost would be very reasonable. If Kevin Cheveldayoff wants a cheap gamble that could prove to be a solid depth scoring option, look no further.

NOTE: Frank Vatrano is currently on IR with a lower-body injury but is expected to return soon. This should not affect his trade value.

Paul Postma

The familiar name could be a cheap veteran depth defense option for the Winnipeg Jets. Paul Postma was picked up by the Bruins last summer to fit into a bottom pairing role while their D prospects matured. Turns out that was not necessary. Boston is now running with 2 rookie defensemen in McAvoy and Grzelcyk and sophomore Brandon Carlo who have been solid all season. Postma has thus been the 7th D only getting ice time when two of the top 6 get hurt (He is behind Adam McQuaid on their depth chart now.)

Winnipeg knows exactly what they are getting in Postma better than anyone. Injuries are always lurking, especially in the playoffs. A loss of defense can sink a team in the playoffs fast(See Bos/Ott last year.) Postma could be had easily for a lower pick as Boston has players that can take over his spot immediately. While this may not a popular acquisition, it is a smart one for Cheveldayoff to consider.

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The cupboard can only be so full. Right now the Bruins look to be in the midst of an embarrassment of riches in that area. If Cheveldayoff wants to make a larger deal and move a big named from the Jets in a cost-cutting measure(which he will have to do here soon) the Bruins have some very intriguing prospects to look at in trade:

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At LD they have two first-rounders in Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen. They also have two second-rounders in Jeremy Lauzon and Ryan Lindgren. At center, they have first-rounder Trent Frederic and two second-round pivots in Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Jack Studnicka. At wing, there’s a first-rounder Zach Senyshyn and second-rounder Ryan Donato (Who is currently burning it up for the US at the Winter Olympics.)

Obviously, a trade for any of these prospects will not help the Jets now. However, talks could be established for a later deal this summer. Winnipeg has several contracts to sign this postseason and not enough cap room to get it done. If a big name has to go to make room to pay Connor Hellebuyck and eventually Patrik Laine then they should get the biggest bang for their buck. A trade for some of Boston’s prime prospects not only makes short-term sense for both teams but long-term sense as well.