Could Boston Bruins forwards Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano be playing for new teams before Christmas?
During the first intermission of the NBC Rivalry Night game Wednesday, in which the Boston Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in overtime, NHL insider Darren Dreger said he believes “it’s likely” that forward Matt Beleskey — who has two years at $3.8 million per left on his current contract — will be “waived within the next week”. As Dreger pointed out and as sources have previously told Murphy’s Hockey Law, the Bruins would prefer to trade the 29-year-old veteran, who for whatever reason has lost his game and more importantly his gritty mojo, but to this point, as expected, there’s been no dance partners.
Numerous sources continue to tell Murphy’s Hockey Law that the 23-year-old Vatrano has been the subject of multiple trade talks over the last month with one source confirming the Edmonton Oilers were one of the teams to express interest, shedding even more light on why Oilers and former Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has scouted his old team in person for a confirmed three occasions and maybe even more in the last month. As reported here just over two weeks ago, Chiarelli also likes Bruins rookie forwards Danton Heinen and Peter Cehlárik.
The Bruins, as said in that same piece, did express interest in Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but Chiarelli said he’s not ready just yet to entertain serious offers for the top pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, one of the reasons likely being, Nugent-Hopkins has been one of the Oilers’ better players with 22 points (7g; 15a) in 31 games this season.
Bruins GM Don Sweeney, his staff and head coach Bruce Cassidy have also been extremely happy with the recent growth and play of Heinen, who has 15 points in 23 games since being recalled from Providence (AHL) October 26. With Heinen also finding chemistry with David Backes and Riley Nash on what has become a formidable third line recently, it’s unlikely he’d be involved in any trade right now unless it was a blockbuster type for a player like Nugent-Hopkins or better.
With the NHL Holiday Trade Freeze (December 19-27) a week away, trade chatter across the NHL has been picking up again. Whether there are any major trades like the ones that took place in the beginning of and end of November is yet to be seen. The chance however of some lesser transactions — whether through trades or the waiver wire — is definitely there and the Bruins could be active. With healthy and more productive bodies already back and still coming back to the lineup, Beleskey and Vatrano may no longer be the frequent healthy scratches they’ve been in Boston this season and playing elsewhere soon.
As mentioned above though and as Dreger pointed out, it’s definitely likely that Beleskey will be waived and if a miracle occurs and another team will take on what now looks like a vast overpayment, he could be playing elsewhere, but more likely in Providence. As for Vatrano, the fact he’s younger, only making $792,500 and headed for restricted free agency, makes it much more likely he is eventually traded from Boston if the Bruins can get at least some value or include him in a bigger deal down the road.