One team that immediately stands out as a buyer: the Boston Bruins. They lead the Carolina Hurricanes by 8 points for the top record in the NHL – with two fewer games played. With an aging core, the Bruins seem like a team that should be all in for this year.
They have most of their draft capital to make a trade, owning all of their draft picks this year except for a 2nd rounder, plus an extra 7th from the LA Kings. The only downside for Boston is that they’re hurting for cap space, which means the Jackets would almost certainly need to find a broker team to make this deal work. Or, take money back the other way.
There is one trade that could work for both sides however, even avoiding a third broker team. But the price for Nyquist likely goes up if they try to work this one out, so it’s probably not likely to happen.
The Bruins get a middle-six scoring winger, who fits into their style of play and can play in all situations. They also offload a contract they don’t want, as Reilly has passed through waivers and is currently in the AHL – but his contract requires them to have a cap penalty on the books. They avoid trading their 2023 first rounder, but it does cost them a future first rounder to make a deal like this.
The Jackets, meanwhile, get an above market value return for an expiring contract, and all it costs them is another year of Mike Reilly’s palatable contract. Is a $3 million dollar cap hit worth an extra first round pick?
New York Rangers
Trade deadline conversations rarely go too far without bringing up the New York Rangers. They’re seemingly in on every big name player that hits the market, and it’s always been that way. This year they’re the rumored destination for pending Blackhawks UFA Patrick Kane – but if they don’t land the big fish, maybe they’ll be looking to add some depth in a trade with the Blue Jackets.
The Rangers have plenty of draft capital as well; they even own an extra first round pick at this summer’s draft. But don’t get too excited, because I don’t see them trading either one of those picks. More likely, a trade here involves one of their second or third round picks.
But this one is tough to work out as well – the Rangers also find themselves in a battle with the salary cap, with just $866k projected available. A broker team would be vital to making something happen here, it seems. Still, for a shot at the Cup, teams will try.
The Rangers have the luxury of having that extra first round pick, so they can up their offer to a 2nd round pick to the Jackets for Nyquist if they do miss out on Patrick Kane. This might persuade the Jackets to send an asset to a “broker team” (say, a 3rd or 4th round pick) to get this deal done. It won’t be an easy one, but the Rangers have a history of making these things happen.