The Vancouver Canucks are interested in defenseman Matt Bartkowski, according to Darren Dreger of TSN.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning, former assistant general manager of the Bruins, is looking for some help at the blue line after losing Kevin Bieksa to a hand injury that could see him out six to eight weeks. The Bruins have been searching for a winger since the start of the season, and it’s been rumored that GM Peter Chiarelli has had his eyes set on Zack Kassian.
Ben Kuzma of The Province reported that two Bruins scouts were at the Canucks’ 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, fueling the trade rumors. While Chiarelli and scouts have made appearances at several games this season, nothing has come to fruition.
Bartkowski signed a one-year contract for $1.25 million at the start of the season. While still searching for his first NHL goal, he’s recorded four assists in 20 games, but has been a healthy scratch often for long intervals of time. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Kassian, who makes $2 million per season and has one year left on his contract, has recorded two goals and three assists in 25 games.
A multitude of issues at the start of the season has forced the Bruins to pick up the pace for the second half of their season. While they jumped from 16th to 7th in goals-against per game, they’re still laying low at 22nd in offensive production. With the Bruins close to the cap ceiling, options are limited for the team in terms of improving offensive production while not depleting a blue line that is already lacking in depth.
Swapping Bartkowski for Kassian, on the surface, is seen as a trade that would be beneficial to both teams. Both teams are looking for playoff appearances - the Bruins are in the second Wild Card spot with 57 points, and the Canucks are third in the Pacific with 55 - and need exactly what the other team has to offer. However, Bartkowski has never been given the time or the chance to shine on the Bruins, as his appearance in the lineup has always been compromised due to the immediate need of the team and Bartkowski’s own shakiness. Giving away a skilled, speedy skater who - despite most Bruins fans saying otherwise - isn’t an awful player, for a player like Kassian who won’t improve the offensive production of the Bruins by a wide margin doesn’t seem like a trade that will help the Bruins in the long-term.
The rumor mill will keep churning as the Bruins face a daunting road ahead, searching to clinch a playoff spot. Whether Chiarelli and friends decide to make a move or not will most likely depend on whether or not the Bruins have any bite left in them during the second half of the season.