As has been the tradition in recent years, the Bruins are on the lookout for an impact winger. They’ve added Charlie Coyle, Marcus Johansson and Rick Nash over the last two seasons and are known to have interest in Rangers winger Chris Kreider. If nothing materializes there, their focus could turn to Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson as Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports Boston reports that they are very interested in the 25-year-old.
Anderson is having a particularly rough 2019-20 season as he has just a goal and four assists in 26 games this season and is currently dealing with a shoulder injury that has kept him out for the last two months. He is nearing a return, and Haggerty notes that Boston would like to see him back in action before potentially pulling the trigger on any deal.
Nevertheless, the appeal with Anderson isn’t hard to see. Just last season, he put up 27 goals with the Blue Jackets along with 214 hits. Young power forwards with offensive upside are hard to come by, and there will undoubtedly be other suitors for him as well.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen faces an interesting decision when it comes to Anderson. The price that Tampa Bay paid to land Blake Coleman on Sunday suggests that teams will pay up to land a player who is not a rental and can contribute at five-on-five; 22 of his tallies last season came in that situation. In Anderson’s case, he’s a restricted free agent this summer so while his price tag will go up from his current $1.85 million average annual value next season; he’ll be around for at least one more season. Landing a possible package such as that one – Haggerty suggests Boston’s first-round pick and defense prospect Urho Vaakanainen as an offer structured similar to the Coleman trade – has to be appealing, even if the Blue Jackets are in the thick of the playoff picture.
On the other hand, Coleman is in the midst of his second straight 20-goal campaign while Anderson is nowhere near that. Will his reputation be enough to overcome that, or will Boston and others offer up less? If that’s the case, Kekalainen would be wise to hold onto Anderson and hope that a strong stretch run could help increase his value over the summer if the Blue Jackets are open to moving him.
Between Kreider, Anderson and even Tyler Toffoli, who was linked to Boston at times as well before his trade to Vancouver, Bruins GM Don Sweeney has cast a wide net to try to bring in some help on the wing. At this point, it seems like a matter of when, not if, he’s able to bring one in.
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