Bruins trade targets: Five forwards B’s should pursue before deadline

Bruins trade targets: Five forwards B’s should pursue before deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins are in first place in the Eastern Conference, so even though they aren’t stocked with lots of valuable trade assets, it would still be smart of general manager Don Sweeney to make a small move or two to improve his team’s depth for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Bruins could use another middle-six forward, particularly with rookie center Matthew Poitras ruled out for the rest of the season after having shoulder surgery earlier this week. Boston’s bottom-six group could use a little more toughness, too. A third- or fourth-liner who can play a heavy game, take on tough defensive minutes and help out on the penalty kill would be ideal.

In addition to a lack of high-end trade assets, the B’s also have less than $1 million in salary cap space, per CapFriendly. The Bruins will have to get creative to acquire a player with a cap hit of $3 million or more.

Here are five forwards the Bruins should consider pursuing before the trade deadline.

Adam Henrique, C/LW, Ducks

2023-24 Stats: 49 games, 15 goals, 18 assists

Contract status: $5.825 million cap hit, UFA in 2024

Henrique is probably the best center who could be available now that Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan have already been dealt.

The 33-year-old veteran is a good offensive player who likely will hit the 20-goal mark for the seventh time in his career. Henrique is capable of playing 15-18 minutes per game, he’s reliable in the faceoff dot (53.4 win percentage) and can contribute to both special teams. He’s actually on pace to finish above 50 percent on faceoffs for the sixth consecutive campaign.

Henrique is also a versatile forward capable of playing left wing or center, and play on the top line or third line — the classic plug-and-play guy.

One of the biggest obstacles in the Bruins acquiring Henrique is his cap hit. The Bruins have just under $1 million in cap space right now, so even if the Ducks retain some of Henrique’s salary, Boston still might need to send out some salary to make a trade work.

Another thing to note here is the fact that the Ducks and Bruins have made several deals in recent years. They made two deals before the 2020 deadline, and then in 2022 the B’s acquired defenseman Hampus Lindholm in a large trade involving multiple players and picks. The Lindholm trade came a little over a month after Pat Verbeek became Ducks general manager. So these teams, by all accounts, have a good working relationship.

Brandon Duhaime, LW/RW

2023-24 Stats: 50 games, 4 goals, 2 assists

Contract status: $1.1 million cap hit, UFA in 2024

Duhaime is a very physical player with good size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) who loves to throw hard hits and fight whenever needed. His 117 hits are the second-most on the Wild and would lead the Bruins (Trent Frederic has 111). Duhaime is also a reliable penalty killer, averaging 1:54 of shorthanded ice time per game.

He isn’t going to bring a ton of offense, but his heavy play style and ability to kill penalties would make him a nice addition to a playoff team’s fourth line.

Anthony Duclair, LW/RW, Sharks

2023-24 Stats: 46 games, 9 goals, 8 assists

Contract status: $3 million cap hit, UFA in 2024

Duclair would bring speed and offensive skill to the Bruins in a third-line role. He’s on pace to score 16 goals, which isn’t bad considering the lack of talent surrounding him in San Jose. He’s also just two years removed from a 31-goal season with the Panthers.

Duclair isn’t afraid of going to the tough areas around the net to score goals. He plays with the type of physical edge that would make him a good fit with the B’s. The 28-year-old veteran has a decent playoff resume, too, including last season’s run to the Stanley Cup Final with the Panthers during which he tallied 11 points in 20 games.

Liam O’Brien, C/LW, Coyotes

2023-24 Stats: 48 games, 3 goals, 5 assists

Contract status: $775,000 cap hit, UFA in 2024

O’Brien won’t be expected to provide a ton of scoring. He’s a classic fourth-line brawler, and he would certainly give the Bruins a lot more toughness and snarl on the fourth line. O’Brien isn’t one to turn down a fight, either — just ask Trent Frederic. The Bruins forward has fought O’Brien twice in the last three years, most recently last month in Arizona.

The Bruins should look for a bottom-six forward with more offensive skill than O’Brien. But if Sweeney really wants extra truculence in his lineup, O’Brien wouldn’t be a bad acquisition.

Nic Dowd, C/RW, Capitals

2023-24 Stats: 39 games, 7 goals, 6 assists

Contract status: $1.3 million cap hit, UFA in 2025

Dowd has enough versatility to play center or right wing and also could provide some decent scoring depth. He’s on pace to score double-digit goals for the fourth straight season. The 33-year-old veteran starts most of his shifts in the defensive zone, wins more than 50 percent of his faceoffs and has 26 games of playoff experience. Those are the kind of attributes you want in a potential fourth-line center for the postseason.

Dowd wouldn’t be a rental, either. He’s signed through the 2024-25 season at a very reasonable $1.3 million cap hit, which would be pretty valuable for a Bruins team that often spends pretty close to the cap.

With Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan off the board after being traded over the last week, there aren’t a ton of good centers rumored to be available, which could drive up the price on players such as Dowd. While Dowd likely would be a very good fit in Boston, he’s not worth giving up a first- or second-round pick to acquire.