NHL Notebook: Taking a deeper look at Bruins’ potential trade targets

Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The NHL trade deadline is now less than a month away, and as expected, the Bruins are going to be active in search of key cogs up front. Boston’s search for a reliable top-six wing and a third-line center has been an ongoing saga for most of the 2018-19 season, but thankfully for Don Sweeney and Co., there looks to be plenty of worthy candidates out on the trade market.

Let’s take a look at a few potential trade targets for Boston, especially in terms of what they can bring to the Bruins when it comes to solving the club’s 5v5 scoring woes.

(All stats are courtesy of Corsica and Sean Tierney of @ChartingHockey.)

Brayden Schenn

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 201 lbs
Age: 27
Current Team: St. Louis Blues
Contract Status: $5.125 million AAV / Under contract through 2020
Stats: 45 games played, 9 goals, 18 assists

Is he a fit? The search for a viable third-line center has been an ongoing issue all season long for the Bruins in wake of Riley Nash’s departure via free agency this summer. A number of players have earned reps at the pivot so far this year — including Sean Kuraly, David Backes, Colby Cave and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.

While the “Kid Line” of Forsbacka Karlsson, Danton Heinen and Ryan Donato has shown some progress together, you’d have to think another playoff club with plenty of forward depth such as Tampa Bay would feast against a trio that has been relatively sheltered in terms of minutes and starts outside of the defensive zone.

If Boston indeed makes upgrading its third line a priority over say, another top-six winger, you certainly can’t go wrong with Schenn. While he’s having a bit of a down year on a struggling St. Louis squad, the skilled playmaker is coming off of a 70-point campaign in 2017-18 — and has averaged 26 goals and 61 points over the past three seasons. Along with giving a club versatility as both a center and a wing, Schenn offers some security, with the 27-year-old skater under contract for another season at a fair value of $5.125 million.

If you’re looking to give Boston’s third line a shot in the arm — and hopefully get someone like Danton Heinen going as a result, you can’t go wrong with Schenn, who’d give the Bruins three pretty great centers to work with.

Deeper Dive: While Schenn may be slumping a bit in terms of production in his second year with the Blues, the case could be made that Schenn has been horribly unlucky, especially when looking at his shot preferences and expected goals calculated.

(Expected goals are essentially shot attempts that have been weighed for shot quality — which include the type of shot taken, angle, distance and situation. While it’s not a perfect tool when it comes to evaluating a player — it can shed some light on a skater that’s a bit snakebit despite generating quality looks, while also predicting better play down the road.)

Schenn certainly loves his wrister, but the pivot does a great job of saving his shots for high-quality chances — averaging much closer than the league average for shot distance at around 24 feet. When you look at the quality of his shot attempts, plus the amount of attempts he has coming off of rebounds (16), you’d have to think that Schenn has been a bit unlucky in the scoring department.

In fact, Schenn’s individual expected goals totals out to 15.07 — meaning that the center should have at least seven more goals that he currently has, given the amount of quality chances he generates in the offensive zone. Not too shabby, especially for a player that has generated 20 of his 27 points this season at even strength, something that Boston would especially value.

What will it cost?

You’d have to think that a deal for Schenn would be similar what Pittsburgh had to give up to pry another center with term away from his club in Derick Brassard last season — a first, third and fourth-round draft pick, goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson, Ian Cole and Ryan Reaves (sent to Vegas in the three-team deal).

A first-rounder and likely another draft pick or two would likely have to be on the table in a deal for Schenn, while an NHL-level talent like Ryan Donato or JFK could also go. While you’d have to think a prospect like Urho Vaakanainen and Jack Studnicka would only go for a substantial trade target, perhaps prospects like Trent Frederic or Zach Senyshyn could be in play.

Kevin Hayes