The NHL Trade Deadline is Monday and the Boston Bruins are already wheeling and dealing.
The team already made their first move by acquiring Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for David Backes, a first-round pick, and defenseman prospect Axel Andersson.
Kase has seven goals and 16 assists in 49 games, and will likely fill in on either David Krejci’s right or Charlie Coyle’s left. However, he shouldn’t be (and likely isn’t) the only acquisition Don Sweeney will make.
There is a trend in the general manager’s moves during his tenure; he either makes one large move or two smaller moves. While the Czech winger is certainly a nice player, he falls into the realm of a smaller move. This means another depth move is likely following suit, and who better to acquire than former Bruin and longtime Sharks great Joe Thornton?
Thornton, 40, is likely in the middle of his final season in the NHL. While he’s far from the same player he was when the Bruins traded him in 2005-06, he still serves a great purpose to the team. Being 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Thornton would fill the void of a big-bodied forward that Boston’s been coveting since the Cup Final last year.
The St. Louis Blues wore the highly-skilled Bruins down last May, culminating in a Game 7 win at TD Garden.
While the Sharks center has just 25 points this season, that could be thanks in large part to his primary line-mates being Marcus Sorensen (12 points) and Kevin Labanc (31 points).
Adding Thornton, albeit a shell of his former self, fills an immediate void on the Bruins.
On top of that, upon trading Backes, the Bruins free up a grand total of $2.7 million. Thornton’s cap-hit is just $2 million.
The one question that remains is where exactly would Thornton play on the Bruins?
Ideally, Thornton would garner primarily fourth-line minutes. He wouldn’t play every night, largely due to his age and declining ability. However, in certain matchups, he could play a crucial role as a net-front presence that’s hard to move off the puck.
A Stanley Cup is the last thing the future Hall of Famer needs to cement his legacy. With the San Jose Sharks 12 points out of the second wild-card spot with 22 games left, it’s likely in their best interest to part ways with assets in exchange for draft capital. Even at 40, Joe Thornton is a serviceable asset that the Sharks can move, and Boston should be one of those teams calling to ask.