With the retirement of Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, the team faces the challenge of replacing his on-ice production and leadership. The trade market emerges as a potential solution, with Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets and Elias Lindholm of the Calgary Flames entering the final year of their contracts and their futures uncertain in both Winnipeg and Calgary. Are either realistic options? If not, are there other options the Bruins can explore?
The Rumors Surrounding Mark Scheifele
Over the past couple of months, Scheifele’s trade availability has been uncertain, but the if the Bruins think he’s their guy, the Jets are open to listening. Boston could make a compelling offer and Elliotte Friedman from the NHL Network speculated a couple of weeks ago that GM Don Sweeney may be interested in Scheifele, given the then uncertainty surrounding Bergeron’s departure and David Krejci’s potential retirement.
Scheifele, who scored an impressive 42 goals last season and has averaged 31.8 goals over the past five years, brings a high offensive ceiling, although his defensive game is not as strong as our second candidate. He’s the closest thing the Bruins might find to a top-line scoring threat down the middle.
Do the Bruins Like Elias Lindholm Better?
On the other hand, Elias Lindholm, a two-way star, is a better fit for the Bruins with his all-around skill set. He netted 42 goals in the 2021-22 season and finished second in Selke voting behind Bergeron. Lindholm, at 28 years old, fits with the age group of the team’s other top stars, David Pastrnak (27) and Charlie McAvoy (25).
As per Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun:
While moving on from Scheifele, who was attached at the hip with Wheeler for much of their time together in Winnipeg, still seems likely, it may have to wait as well. It’s possible Boston could enter the picture at some point. They likely have their eyes focused on what Elias Lindholm decides in Calgary first.
Other Less Likely Options
With Bergeron’s absence, the Bruins face a significant void, potentially leading them to explore trades with rebuilding teams like the San Jose Sharks or the Philadelphia Flyers. Or, the Bruins could target clubs that are cap-strapped and always making moves.
Boston’s projected $30.9 million in salary cap space next offseason opens opportunities to re-tool their depth and talent, especially down the center position for the post-Bergeron era. In the case of San Jose, Boston could look at a player like Logan Couture. He’s got a modified no-trade that limits potential landing spots to three teams, but if the Sharks are going full-scorched earth and trying to completely rebuild, they might be inclined to move the center.
In Philadelphia, there is still a lot of talk surrounding Scott Laughton. He’s not a top-line center, but perhaps the Bruins can fill the middle of the ice by committee.
What about in Vegas where the Golden Knights are constantly dumping players and working on their salary cap situation? Would someone like William Karlsson be available? He’s got four seasons remaining on a contract that pays him $5.9 million per season. He finished the season with 53 points, but he’s had a couple of down years and Vegas might be open to a move after winning the Stanley Cup.
Will Be Nearly Impossible to Replace Bergeron
Replacing Bergeron will prove nearly impossible, as he brought not only impressive stats but also intangibles like leadership and versatility that impacted the game beyond the score sheet. As one of the top players in Bruins history, Bergeron’s legacy will likely see him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with his No. 37 retired in the TD Garden rafters.
The fact that the Bruins currently lack strong internal candidates — Pavel Zacha is a possibility for the top-line center role — isn’t helping matters.
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