Haggerty: Could trade talks be cooking between the B's and Oilers?

Joe Haggerty
NBC Sports Boston

With the Stanley Cup Final soon to be over, trade talks will be kicking up across the NHL very soon with free agency just a few weeks away. 

The Boston Bruins will be no different given some of the improvements that clearly need to be made after a second-round exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs, an exit that highlighted areas of the B's roster that need to be better. It will be perhaps too much of a challenge for B's general manager Don Sweeney to accomplish everything on the "to do" list and uncover both a second line right wing sniper and a top-4, left-shot defenseman over the next few months.

Clearly the D-man is the priority given that Zdeno Chara is going to be 42 years old next season, and it is now two postseasons in a row where the smaller Krug has suffered a serious injury that knocked him out of the playoffs.  

Sweeney said during last week's NHL scouting combine that he thinks trade activity is going to pick up around the draft in a couple of weeks, and that gives him plenty of time to either lay new groundwork or revisit talks from the past. 

"There's a sense that there will be some activity. I think in around the draft, there are several teams with multiple picks, say in the top 50, so I think there will be some jockeying. There are some teams that have made some coaching changes. I think there's opportunity to explore player transactions at this time," said Sweeney. "Everybody is sort of anticipating what the cap and how much it's going to go up, and whether that will dramatically affect anybody's decision making. There's some big numbers and some players that teams are going to look to sign that could impact. 

"We've got players that we may look at our earlier stage, so those all could be impactful things and decision in planning of your own player movement, plus outside player movement…but there has been some chatter."

There are potential trade partners out there in teams looking for fresh starts, different directions or a shakeup to the personnel. The most obvious target is Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin given that he's a Massachusetts kid, and given that the Bruins tried to trade up in the first round of the 2015 draft in order to pick him. There would be a significant cost for a young player like that, of course, and the Canes might not be the best match with the Bruins in terms of moveable pieces involved with a possible trade. 

But how about the Edmonton Oilers and old friend Peter Chiarelli as a trade partner with the Boston Bruins? 

Oilers radio play-by-play man Bob Stauffer had an interesting tweet on Wednesday indicating that the Edmonton wasn't going to deal their No. 10 pick in the first round. Instead, they could be shopping for a "different ingredient" for their NHL roster while also willing to deal a veteran player with term on their contract. Given some of the talent on the Edmonton roster, that's something that should pique the interest of the Black and Gold. 

Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom would be at the top of the list of available Edmonton players that fit the criteria Stauffer mentioned, and the 24-year-old would definitely fit Boston's longstanding need on the back end. Sure he had a down season with five goals and 21 points in 66 games along with a minus-12 rating, but he still was an absolute horse with 22:51 of ice time per game at an ideal 6-foot-3, 220-pound size. Klefbom is also just a single year removed from 12 goals and 38 points while playing in all 82 games, and clearly he has the pedigree as a former first-round pick. There's also the fact that he's signed for four more years at just $4.167 million, and would become a major salary cap bargain if he can bounce back and continue to be a reliable top-4 D-man. 

Even more intriguingly, the Oilers are also desperately looking for a power play quarterback and the Bruins just so happen to have one of those in 27-year-old Torey Krug. Krug is at the apex of his value around the league after amassing a whopping 110 points over the last two seasons, and his QB skills on Boston's top power-play unit have a key part of the B's special teams' success. But the Bruins have a budding, young power play QB in Charlie McAvoy ready to take on more responsibility, and they have a young, small left shot puck-moving D-man in Matt Grzelcyk that brings some Krug-like qualities to the table minus some of the high-end offensive finish. 

So there is definitely a plausible scenario where Klefbom and Krug could be at the center of a potential deal between the Bruins and the Oilers if Chiarelli and Sweeney are willing to make a deal. Would it be a 1-for-1 swap of defensemen for defensemen? It probably would not as Chiarelli and Edmonton assistant GM Keith Gretzky have plenty of inside knowledge on many of the young prospects still flowing through the Bruins system, and it would be good business to try to recoup one of them given Klefbom's relative youth and significant contract term.    

It remains to be seen which scenarios will truly gain steam for the Bruins as the hockey calendar heads toward NHL draft weekend in Dallas, but the situation in Edmonton bears watching for all the Bruins fans out there.

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