With a Cup window dwindling and evident flaws in need of addressing, the Bruins were expected to be one of the more aggressive teams this fall when it came to navigating an active trade market across the NHL.
So far, Don Sweeney has apparently made good on such sentiment, given that the Bruins continue to be linked to one of the more intriguing — if not one of riskiest — trade targets available.
For as much as the optics are concerning when it comes to surrendering assets to acquire Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (and primarily the remaining seven years and close to $58 million remaining on his salary), it doesn't seem like the rumors of the veteran defenseman's links to the Bruins are dissipating any time soon.
After Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported two weeks ago that the Bruins were one of the teams that reportedly "checked in" on the 29-year-old skater's availability, further reports this week have fueled even more speculation that Boston is one of the primary contenders vying for Ekman-Larsson's services — with their reported interest apparently being mutual.
TSN’s Darren Dreger noted on Thursday afternoon that "things are believed to be intensifying” on the Ekman-Larsson (OEL, for short) front, adding that the veteran would not accept a trade to the Oilers — one of the clubs linked to him — by way of his no-movement clause. Friedman noted shortly thereafter that OEL's short list of clubs he's accept a trade to would include the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks — with longtime Coyotes reporter Craig Morgan of AZ Coyotes Insider adding that Boston has been a favored landing spot for OEL if he is indeed moved.
What was once viewed as a long-shot blockbuster usually tossed out on message boards, rather than struck on the transaction wire, suddenly feels very, very real.
"(Arizona GM) Bill Armstrong is actively working with both Boston and Vancouver," Dreger said on TSN. "He’s trying to get something done. There is a bit of pressure from the player perspective."
Back when the Ekman-Larsson rumors first sprouted up, we did a deep dive on what the veteran blueliner could bring this Bruin club. While we noted that the Swedish skater would likely slot into a top-pairing role in this lineup and stabilize the left side of a B's D corps likely moving forward without Torey Krug and perhaps Zdeno Chara in a lesser role, there are plenty of concerns with a deal of this magnitude.
When it comes to potential peril, most of that is tied into the fact that Boston would be on the hook for the rest of Ekman-Larsson's mega-deal if such a trade was struck without salary retention — with the B's tagged with an $8.25 million cap hit through the 2026-27 season. Add in the worrying metrics when it comes to the veteran's declining play (especially during 5v5 action) over the last few years, and it makes plenty of sense for fans to approach a move like this with plenty of caution.
And yet, while it might seem like Arizona holds all the cards here, the fact of the matter is that the 'Yotes may not hold nearly as much leverage as one would think here, making a potential deal more palatable from the perspective of the Bruins.
So, after stomping out everyone's hopes of a Jack Eichel blockbuster earlier this week and pointing out the risks of an OEL deal, let's look at the ways in which Boston could capitalize as winners of the Ekman-Larsson sweepstakes: