What the Hampus Lindholm trade means to the Bruins
Don Sweeney didn’t have the best assets to put on his trade block heading into the trade deadline. But the seventh-year general manager of the Boston Bruins managed to fill a need and pulled off a big splash.
On Saturday, the Bruins landed one of the top left-shot defensemen on the open market in Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm. The Ducks receive a trio of draft picks — a 2022 first-round selection and a pair of second-rounders in 2023 and 2024 — along with defensemen Urho Vaakanainen and John Moore. The Bruins also added AHL defenseman Kodie Curran in the transaction.
The Ducks will retain half of Lindholm’s remaining cap hit of over $2.6 million. The Sweeney and Lindholm camps are also reportedly working on a contract extension, according to Rogers Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman.
The cap hits roughly even out with Moore’s $1.625 million salary and Vaakanainen’s earnings of $894,167.
Indeed, the Bruins paid a solid price to land the 28-year-old defenseman. And his potential long-term contract extension could present them with potential long-term ramifications. Yet, Sweeney fulfilled the team’s top priority with less than 48 hours remaining of the NHL’s trading period.
The Bruins add some needed size on the blue-line with the 6-4, 216 lb. Lindholm. At times, they’ve struggled in matchups against heavier teams. Lindholm’s arrival gives the Bruins a minutes-eating big body blue-liner to use on the penalty kill and in late-game 5v5 situations.
The Bruins will have themselves one of the better top-four blue-line units in the league with Lindholm, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk. McAvoy (with a $9.5 million cap hit beginning next season through 2029-30) and Carlo (signed at $4.1 million through 2026-27) each signed contract extensions before the 2021-22 season. Grzelcyk has a $3.6875 million cap hit through 2023-24. Locking up Lindholm will undoubtedly solidify Boston’s long-term situation on the back end.
Lindholm’s defensive skillsets undoubtedly stand out, yet his offensive traits hardly go unnoticed. The Swede notched at least 20 points in all but one of his nine seasons in a Ducks uniform. Lindholm was second among Anaheim defensemen in shots on net with 119, trailing only Kevin Shattenkirk.
With another two-way blue-liner in the fold, Bruce Cassidy would likely suit Lindholm with McAvoy or Carlo. Mike Reilly, who skated with McAvoy over the last several games, would likely move to the third defensive pair next to Derek Forbort or Connor Clifton.
The Bruins had high hopes for Moore after inking him to a five-year deal in the 2018 off-season. But Moore’s injury history hardly allowed him to settle into a defined role with the big club. He spent most of the 2021-22 campaign in Providence after clearing waivers following training camp.
Vaakanainen, Boston’s 2017 first-round selection, finally showed signs of progression during his fourth year in the organization, even amid a couple of stints on injured reserve. He’s inching closer toward becoming a regular in the NHL lineup. Yet the Bruins are in win-now mode in the twilight of the Patrice Bergeron era. Adding a proven commodity like Lindholm only improves their chances of making another deep postseason run.
Parting with Vaakananinen wasn’t the most ideal of circumstances. Yet, the Bruins kept their two prized prospects of their relatively thin pipeline in the fold with Fabian Lysell and Mason Lohrei.
Yet, the tightening arms race in the Atlantic Division will only intensify in the coming days. The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning each added significant help after respective trades for Claude Giroux and Brandon Hagel.
The Bruins reportedly had an offer for Giroux, but the former Flyers captain opted to waive his no-trade clause to head down to South Florida. Tomas Hertl, another marquee talent, recently came off the board after signing an eight-year contract extension with the San Jose Sharks.
Yet, the Bruins still have some intriguing options to pursue on the open market. A trio of wingers, including former Bruin Phil Kessel (Arizona), Scituate’s own Connor Garland (Vancouver), Max Domi (Columbus) and Rikard Rakell (Anaheim) are among the top remaining available forwards.