With their 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday (Jan. 24), the Boston Bruins have improved to a remarkable 38-5-4 record. Due to their immense success, the Bruins are expected to be major buyers at the trade deadline and have been linked to several big-name players because of it. The Vancouver Canucks, on the other hand, sport a 19-25-3 record and will be one of the league’s most active sellers because of it. Therefore, these two clubs could very well become trading partners before the deadline passes.
The Bruins are currently one of the teams heavily linked to Bo Horvat, and it ultimately makes sense when noting that they have “Stanley Cup or bust” expectations. There’s no question that adding Horvat would be massive, but if Vancouver’s asking price becomes too much for the Bruins to reach, they have another star forward from the Canucks worth considering. Let’s dive into why now.
Andrei Kuzmenko Becoming a Rental Candidate
Last offseason, Andrei Kuzmenko received a plethora of interest on the free-agent market. It made sense, as he had just recorded a 53-point campaign in 45 games with St. Petersburg SKA of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The Canucks of course would end up being the lucky team to acquire him, and he has lived up to the hype since joining them. His offensive production has translated over to the NHL beautifully, as he has 21 goals and 43 points in 46 games with Vancouver so far.
With Kuzmenko having a fantastic start to his NHL career, it makes sense that the Canucks are currently aiming to sign him to an extension. However, if talks do not result in a new contract being finalized by March 3, there’s a real chance that we will see the skilled forward deal at the deadline. After all, he is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA), and the struggling Canucks cannot afford to lose a player of this ability for nothing during the summer.
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If Kuzmenko is officially made available by the Canucks, he would receive a ton of interest around the league from playoff teams. I would not be surprised if the Bruins entered the sweepstakes, either, as he has all the tools to be a fantastic fit for them.
Why the Bruins Could Use Kuzmenko
Although the Bruins have been firing on all cylinders this campaign, there’s no question that they could still use another star like Kuzmenko in their lineup. When looking at a potential fit for him, I could see him slotting in perfectly on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Taylor Hall. This would allow Trent Frederic to take over AJ Greer’s spot at the fourth-line right wing role. Overall, the Bruins’ forward group would become significantly deeper by adding a player like Kuzmenko.
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Furthermore, with Kuzmenko showing this season that he can score quite often, he would be an amazing addition to the Bruins’ power play. At times this season, Boston’s power play has looked somewhat stale, so adding a star like Kuzmenko to their second unit could be extremely beneficial.
Yet, the most appealing aspect about Kuzmenko is that he carries an easily affordable $950,000 cap hit. The Bruins simply will not find a player of his caliber available at such a low price, so that should only heighten Boston’s interest in him. Furthermore, he would have the opportunity to play with far better players on the Bruins, so his offensive production would also likely increase in the process.
Potential Trade Between Boston & Vancouver
With Kuzmenko having such a good season, it is clear that his trade value has risen. As a result, the Bruins would need to give up a good amount to successfully acquire the sniper. The Bruins’ 2023 first-round pick, 2024 third-round pick, and a prospect like Brett Harrison could be enough to make this deal go through. Overall, that would be a pretty hefty price, but with the Bruins going all-in this campaign, it is at least worth some consideration.
I could see the Canucks being interested in a promising prospect like Harrison. Although he does not have as much hype as Bruins prospects like Fabian Lysell and Mason Lohrei, he still has the potential to become a top-nine forward at the NHL level later down the road. In 36 games this campaign between the Oshawa Generals and Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he has 24 goals to go along with 48 points. Overall, the 6-foot-2 forward is clearly heading in the right direction with his development, so he could be a great fit for a retooling club like the Canucks.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Kuzmenko is a trade target that the Bruins should be considering making a push for. He has shown this season that he has point-per-game potential, and he would be a major addition to Boston’s forward group as they prepare for their postseason run. Meanwhile, the Canucks would land themselves some quality assets for the future, so this deal would have the potential to be a win-win for both clubs. Alas, let’s see if the 2011 Stanley Cup Final opponents strike a deal centering around Kuzmenko from here.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he has written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.