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Boston Bruins' Top Targets After Trading Tim Thomas

Christopher LeoneSenior Analyst IFebruary 11, 2013

Boston Bruins' Top Targets After Trading Tim Thomas

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    Now that Tim Thomas is off the books, Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is in one of the best positions in the NHL.

    At 8-1-1 through their first 10 games of the season, the Bruins are already one of the hottest teams in the league despite playing fewer games than the majority of the league. The only concerns so far have been injuries to the team's forwards—Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton have all been affected—and occasionally shaky defensive play.

    But the stoic play of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin in net rendered Thomas, who remains resolute in his decision to sit out this season, expendable. And after acquiring a second-round pick from the New York Islanders, Chiarelli accomplished two goals: Move a still-valuable asset, and free up cap space to add something at the end of the season.

    The only question is, what can Chiarelli add?

    With the trade deadline not coming until April 3, the Bruins have plenty of time to let the season shake out. For now, they appear to be buyers if anything, especially given the aforementioned injuries to their forwards.

    With two months to figure it out, expect this list to change as other teams' playoff hopes fluctuate, but here are some names you can expect to hear in the mix.

Bobby Ryan

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    A David Krejci-for-Ryan deal came up more than once in the Boston rumor mill last year. The Bruins' first line, currently comprised of Milan Lucic at left wing, Krejci at center and Tyler Seguin at right wing, would turn into Lucic-Seguin-Ryan, potentially causing the Eastern Conference the world's biggest headache.

    Meanwhile, the Ducks, who have to re-sign their top two centers in Ryan Getzlaf and Saku Koivu this offseason, would have some insurance in Krejci if both walked, as Chiarelli locked up Krejci through 2014-15.

Jarome Iginla

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    Bruins fans have been calling for this for a while, and they're not alone around the league. Simply put, Iginla is a popular player because he plays the game the right way.

    His best chance at winning a Stanley Cup with the Flames came in 2004, and at age 35 he may run out of time before Calgary makes it that far again. Loyal as he's been to the organization for years, he'll probably ask for a trade one of these years.

    As an experienced power forward, but with a little more speed than ex-Bruin Mark Recchi, he could be a great fit in black and gold.

Stephen Weiss

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    Now 29, Weiss has spent his entire career with the Panthers, but is bound to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. A consistent 60-point performer, he'll probably walk, leaving Florida with nothing unless it makes a move.

    Currently giving up an average of over three goals per game and in the bottom third of the league on the penalty kill, the Bruins' acquisition of Weiss would probably require them to give up a defenseman and/or a solid draft pick, meaning this won't likely happen unless Weiss agrees to an extension quickly.

    But joining a team in a true hockey market might pique his interest enough to forgo the free-agent market.

Nino Niederreiter

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    After an intense struggle with the Islanders last season, SLAM Sports reports that the Swiss-born Niederreiter wants a trade after being left off of the team's training camp roster despite tearing up the AHL.

    A second deal with the Islanders after the Thomas trade is unlikely, but were the Bruins to convince New York GM Garth Snow to make a move, it could shore up the Bruins' forward depth after injuries have given both Lane MacDermid and Jamie Tardif extended NHL looks.

Jay Beagle

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    After signing a three-year, $2.7 million deal with Washington in the offseason, Beagle only has two assists in 12 games with a struggling Capitals squad this year. A big, grinding center, he could help GM George McPhee bring in a decent return.

    While the Bruins wrote the book on toughness in the Northeast Division and forced other teams to catch up, acquiring Beagle would allow Daniel Paille to move up to the third line with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly.

    Imagine Beagle playing with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Scary.

Ryan Whitney

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    Whitney, a veteran defenseman now in his eighth season, has been plagued by injury in recent years, and his play has suffered as a result. But he remains a valuable asset as a third-pairing defenseman if he can start to compensate for his loss of mobility.

    He'd be a huge upgrade over Aaron Johnson in the seventh-defenseman role. Yet even with Tim Thomas' cap hit gone, unless he supplanted Adam McQuaid or Johnny Boychuk, how do you justify trading for what could become a $4 million depth defenseman?

Keith Yandle

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    With Thomas off the Bruins' books, Boston native Yandle would be an attractive—but not cheap—option for Chiarelli to pursue as a top-pairing defenseman and power-play quarterback.

    The Coyotes are chasing Anaheim, San Jose and Dallas in the Pacific Division, and with defending Stanley Cup winner Los Angeles bound to figure it out eventually, there's a good chance that Phoenix's playoff hopes fall off, which might open up a chance at a deal. 

    If so, perhaps David Krejci, long rumored to be heading west someday, goes for Yandle.

    That move might leave Boston with a hole up front, but with the opportunity to finally fix the team's disastrous power play, this might be the only big move that makes sense for the Bruins.

     

    For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.

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