A poor start by the Boston Bruins is giving rise to early-season trade speculation.

Bruins gauging trade value of Chara and Marchand.

The Boston Bruins are reportedly gauging the trade value of veterans like Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara.

The Boston Bruins are reportedly gauging the trade value of veterans like Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara.

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty reports sources claim the struggling Boston Bruins are working on contingency plans in case their fortunes fail to improve in the coming weeks. They’re quietly engaged in exploratory trade discussions with several teams regarding some of their high-priced veterans, including captain Zdeno Chara and winger Brad Marchand, if they decide to further overhaul their lineup this season. Haggerty notes there are “no-trade clauses and other road blocks before deals can be made.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s interesting to note that Chara and Marchand were mentioned, and not David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron or Tuukka Rask. It’s understandable why Chara is popping up in the rumor mill, as he’ll turn 39 in March, has lost a step or two and is carrying a cap hit of over $6.9 million annually through 2017-18. Marchand, currently sidelined by a concussion, is a skilled shift disturber earning $4.5 million annually through 2016-17, but his long-term future in Boston seems in doubt.

If the Bruins shop these guys, they could face picking up part of their respective salary-cap hits or taking back a toxic contract in return. Chara’s trade value is declining, but Marchand could fetch a good return.

Krecji, Bergeron and Rask are unquestionably the Bruins’ top players, signed to long-term deals and necessary as foundation players upon which to rebuild. Unless any of them start demanding trades, I doubt the Bruins will put them on the block.

As Haggerty points out, such significant moves won’t happen right away, but I suspect they could come by midseason if the Bruins continue to struggle. Such deals probably won’t be of the season-saving, quick-fix type, but rather the kind necessary to rebuild for the long term. That means promising and affordable young players, draft picks and prospects in return.