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Who are the Bruins talking about, and what would they cost?

02.18.09 at 3:54 pm ET
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With the NHL trade deadline looming exactly two weeks away, hockey’s version of the hot stove is sparking up with rumors and whispers involving the Bruins, and an expected move or two in the coming 14 days. The Boston Herald tossed out a quick aside recently that Edmonton Oilers right wing Erik Cole is telling friends he expects to be traded to Boston soon, but there doesn’t seem to be anything immediately substantial or concrete in place at this point.

Towering forward Nik Antropov is sure to be dealt by hard-line Toronto GM Brian Burke prior to the deadline, and could be an asset before he departs for free agency following the season. Injuries to Chris Neil (leg injury) and Doug Weight (knee injury) have either lessened or extinguished the possibilities of each skater getting traded by the deadline — a shame, given that Weight would have been a pretty affordable fit for the B’s and has already experienced life as an NHL rent-a-player.

The best remaining round peg in a round hole for what the Bruins are lacking? (power play scoring ability, intimidating size and a left-handed shot) That would be none other than Bay State native Keith Tkachuk, who provides all of the above in one offensively-skilled package that could/should available at the trade deadline.

Here’s a snapshot of what Cole, Antropov and Tkachuk have done for their teams in the last few weeks, and what it might cost the Bruins to pry each of these “rental players” away from their respective teams during the walk years of their contracts.

Nik Antropov: The 29-year-old has collected 5 goals and 2 assists in the 10 games following the NHL All-Star break, and has used his imposing 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame more frequently in front of the net since he was called out by Burke last week. Antropov also has five power play strikes for the Leafs this season. The Leafs GM said the following about Antropov to a Toronto radio station last week: “I have not had a chance to talk to his agent about a future here. From my take at this point, I don’t see any reason to put a new contract offer on the table here … I think it just might be time for a change of scenery for Nik Antropov. I’m going to sit down with him in the next week or so and we’ll talk about that and see. I have a harder time with that because I don’t think his play has merited that discussion to this point, where some of the other players have.” Cost for Antropov: A second- or third-round pick in the 2009 NHL draft.

Dominic Moore: Another son of Toronto — who holds the proper Harvard pedigree — is another asset that Burke might be interested in dealing in the coming weeks. The 28-year-old is also a lefty shot and can play center or the wing, and is making only $900,000 this season before entering free agency. The Leafs and Moore have, according to sources, had some preliminary discussions on a contract extension, but Toronto may instead sell high on a player that’s collected 2 goals and 11 assists while playing at a +4 in 10 games since the NHL All-Star break. Moore has 4 power play goals and 9 total power play points in what’s amounting to a career year for him. Cost for Moore: A mid-round draft pick in the 2009 draft.

Erik Cole: The odds-on favorite to land with the Bruins if you subscribe to the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” philosophy, but the physical right wing hasn’t had the most productive season while playing in Edmonton this year. Since the All-Star break, Cole has managed only two goals and zero assists in 11 games and has been a -2 while really not making much of an impact for the Oil. He does have five power-play goals and has plenty of playoff experience, which are skills that could benefit the B’s. The chatter in Edmonton has been the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Cole hasn’t been a “good fit” for the Oilers, and he’s averaged less than two shots a game since the All-Star break. So exactly what kind of fit would that make him in Boston? Cost for Cole: A mid-level prospect and a third- or fourth-round draft pick. Perhaps a good landing spot for a defenseman like restricted free agent to be Matt Lashoff, who has struggled to break the Bruins roster over the last two seasons.

Keith Tkachuk: Sources close to Tkachuk recently told a St. Louis radio station reporter that Boston was his top choice if he waived the “no movement” clause in his contract, and his home city is obviously a natural draw for the 36-year-old bruising forward. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Tkachuk can play either center or wing, but hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in the second half with two goals and an assist along with a +1 rating in 10 games since the All-Star break. The three big factors with Tkachuk: his 11 power play goals and his clear ability on the man advantage, his potential contract extension demands in exchange for waiving his “no movement” clause (which would effectively kill any interest Boston would have in Tkachuk) and St. Louis’s indecision as to whether they’re buyers or sellers with the deadline loomingCost for Tkachuk: A young player capable of making the Blues roster (think Vladimir Sobotka, Matt Hunwick or Lashoff) and a lower-to-mid round draft pick.

Jordan Leopold: Several reports from the Rocky Mountain State had a bevy of Bruins scouts watching the Colorado Avalanche, and the 28-year-old from Golden Valley, Minnesota seemed a natural fit to fortify and add depth to Boston’s blue line. Leopold has a goal and an assist in 11 games with Colorado since the All-Star break and has a -3 rating during that time. Not exactly the sexiest choice for a trade, but he could be invaluable depth-wise if anything were to happen to Dennis Wideman, Aaron Ward or Andrew Ference over the final few months. Cost for Leopold: A mid-level draft pick and a prospect for a rebuilding Colorado team.

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