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NHL trade deadline fact or fiction, Bruins style

03.04.09 at 11:37 am ET

With the trade deadline bearing down on us at 3 p.m. and Bruins people telling me not to expect anything monumental,  here’s a quick version of NHL trade deadline “Fact or Fiction” to tide people over until the deadline. There seems to be a few different choices out there for a Bruins organization that could clearly utilize a shot in the arm — or a swift kick to the backside depending on your views parenting a wayward hockey club.

The team continues to look for help in two key areas: a puck-moving defenseman that can offer depth at the back end of the blueline corps during a hotly-contested playoff series when teams really begin to bang guys like Dennis Wideman, Andrew Ference and Aaron Ward. The second area: a veteran left-handed shot with some size, grit and offensive skill is also a need given Boston’s set of personnel on the top two power play units, and their lack of physical size in spots through the lineup.

With that in mind, along with a real lack of Dickens-style “Great Expectations” at who is going to be wearing a Spoked B sweater when the Bruins suit up against the Phoenix Coyotes tomorrow night — here’s a rundown on what’s going on with the “Fact or Fiction” department:

*Chris Pronger and Travis Moen to Boston for either A) Patrice Bergeron, Mark Stuart, Joe Colborne and a draft pick or B) Phil Kessel, Mark Stuart, Joe Colborne and a draft pick.  The Ducks said this morning that they’ve told Big Bad Pronger that he won’t be dealt unless they’re blown away by an offer, which — by using my handy, dandy NHL jargon decoder ring — means that the Bruins won’t be getting Pronger unless they deal Kessel. Some believe that it makes sense to do this deal when it’s still in question how much money Kessel, a potential 40-50 goal scorer, is going to seek as a restricted free agent this summer. Add that to how much of an issue motivation might be once he’s locked in with a comfortable two or three-year deal, and how difficult it will be to sign Krejci, Kessel, Hunwick, Thomas, Lucic, Wheeler and Savard over the next two years. It’s clear somebody won’t be staying. Pronger coming to Boston? Fiction, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out.

*Defenseman Derek Morris to Boston, Manny Fernandez, Vladimir Sobotka and a draft pick to Phoenix, and then Fernandez is flipped to Buffalo: With Philip Kuba signed to an extension in Ottawa and real doubt as to whether Pronger or Jay Bouwmeester will actually be dealt, guys like Morris and Jordan Leopold really gain in value as the only available blueliners on the market. The New Jersey Devils seem to be getting involved with Scott Clemmensen as well, but there’s a real danger that this is just to keep raising the price that the Bruins or Caps will eventually pay. The Sabres are looking for a potential place-holder in net with Ryan Miller still battling an ankle injury. Will Morris come to Boston, and will Manny Fernandez — known as the “Quiet Man” around the Boston media corps after ducking out following his loss Tuesday night — be shipped out of town. I’m going Fact on this one.

*Oilers winger Erik Cole to the Bruins for Vladimir Sobotka and a draft pick: This trade has really been pushed to the back burner while B’s GM Peter Chiarelli goes out hunting for that depth defenseman. Cole hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire this season, but he does bring a degree of toughness and scoring touch for that first power play unit. He’s also got the Cup experience, and the price shouldn’t be all that high for the big Banger. The Oilers reportedly want a roster player, and Sobokta would be a roster player for the Oil. Cole hasn’t been the same player since undergoing neck surgery with the Canes several years ago, so the expectations shouldn’t be sky high if he does end up in the Hub. Will Cole come to Boston? I’m going Fact on this one as well.

*Blues winger Keith Tkachuk to Boston for Matt Lashoff and a draft pick: The Blues want their young guys to taste the playoffs and sit only four games back for a playoff spot. Tkachuk’s agent is with the big power forward today as the deadline comes to pass, but it looks as if “Walt” isn’t going anywhere. Will Tkachuk be headed to his Boston hometown? I say Fiction.

*Either A) Leafs forward Dominic Moore for a high draft pick or B) Nik Antropov for a 2010 second round pick. Both Leafs forwards are out there for the taking, but the Bruins don’t appear interested in Antropov despite the 6-foot-6 frame and obvious offensive skill around the net. If Antropov had a bit more consistent grit to his game he’d be a Bruin, but then again if he had a bit more consistent grit he wouldn’t be on the trade market. It’s also worth mentioning that Tomas Kaberle is off the board after injuring his hand against the New Jersey Devils last night.  Moore seems like a good fit and could still come to Boston, but it appears the B’s are looking in a different direction at forward. Will Moore or Antropov be headed to Boston? I say Fiction on both.

*Avalanche defenseman Jordan Leopold to the Bruins for Vladimir Sobotka and a draft pick. Another rumor that has subsided after it was gaining traction in earlier weeks. Leopold is believed to be a fall-back option if Chiarelli loses out on the Morris sweepstakes. Is Leopold headed to Boston? Fiction, but he could quickly change to a Fact if things don’t fall Boston’s way. Edit: Scratch all that Leopold gone to the Flames for a player, prospect and pick.

*Ottawa tough guy Chris Neil for Matt Lashoff and draft pick. The agitating Neil can’t come to a money agreement on a contract extension with the Senators, and is just the kind of mischevious force that could be a spark for the B’s going forward. Will Neil come to the Bruins? Fiction, but it could happen if — as Bob Barker used to say — the price is right. Edit: Nokelainen not present at Bruins practice, and could be involved in a deal for Neil.

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