Mark Stuart draws interest on trade front

Hockey sources here indicated to that there’s strong interest on the trade front in defenseman Mark Stuart, and that dealing the rugged defenseman might be an option for the Bruins over the next four weeks if the team needs to clear salary cap space for a roster move.

Stuart has served as a healthy scratch for the Bruins in each of the last three games leading up to theNHL All-Star break, and hasn’t played since a Jan. 20 loss to the Buffalo Sabres — only his second game back from a broken right hand that kept Stuart out for a month. Adam McQuaid has played in Stuart’s place while the Bruins defenseman has sat on the bench, and represents a similarly physical defenseman for less than a third of Stuart’s cap hit ($1.675 million).

If Stuart is dealt before the Feb. 28 trade deadline, it will be purely for salary cap reasons as Stuart heads into unrestricted free agency after the current season is over. His leadership and toughness around the net are valued assets, and the reason he’s garnering interesting around the NHL — including an Atlanta team that listened to a package involving Stuart for Ilya Kovalchuk at last year’s trade deadline.