The dominos are starting to fall. Days before the trade deadline hits, the Boston Bruins have secured one of the premier defenders on the market in Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks. The price consists of defenders Urho Vaakanainen and John Moore, plus a first-round draft pick, and two separate second-round selections. Boston also brought in defender Kodie Curran.
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Impact of the Deal
Not only is this not the first trade between these two teams in recent years, it is not the first time where the Bruins acquired an impact player while also dumping a contract to the Ducks. It happened in February 2020 when Boston got Ondrej Kase while unloading David Backes in the process. The undesirable salary, in this case, is Moore, who has a $2.75 million cap hit on a contract that expires after next season. The second of the two second-rounders is just the price to offload Moore.
The lowly Ducks were unlikely to re-sign Lindholm, who is an unrestricted free agent following this season. For a two-defender who has also struggled a bit in recent seasons, the return is very good. To maximize that, Anaheim retained half of Lindholm’s salary, which helps Boston’s salary cap situation
The prime player coming to the Ducks is Vaakanainen, who was selected 18th overall in the 2017 draft. The 23-year-old has played in just 31 NHL games, 15 of which have come this year. Vaakanainen has been an AHL regular over the past few seasons. He has eight points in 23 games for the Providence Bruins this season. Moore has over 500 NHL games to his name, with seven of them coming this season. He also has six points in 11 AHL games, so he can help the team.
Boston’s Big Gamble
At one point, Lindholm was one of the NHL’s bright young defenders. Injuries have played a role in his slow down. Still, he is an effective second-pairing defenseman. The question is actually whether Boston needs him. Mike Reilly is solid in that role and Matt Grzelcyk is a great partner to Charlie McAvoy. Still, Boston has added a player who will help them down the line. Curran is just a contract to offset the two players going to Anaheim. He is 32-years-old with no NHL experience, although has had amazing numbers in Sweden.
Now we have to look to a possible extension for Lindholm in Boston. Since the trade, it has been rumored that the sides are close to a long-term deal. This would give Boston a left side of Grzelcyk, Lindholm, and Reilly through 2023-2024 when both Grzelcyk and Reilly are set to be free agents. While none of the three are elite players, all are solid and will make up one of the best left sides on defense in the league. Add McAvoy to that equation and the defensive core is in a good place.
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