john-michael-liles-nhl-boston-bruins-tampa-bay-lightning-827x560By Andrew Thompson                                              Twitter:@godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins have three unrestricted free agents going into the 2017-18 season. How should the Black and Gold handle them?

Going into the 2017-18 season, the Boston Bruins have three impending unrestricted free agents (UFA).  The B’s now need to decide what to do with forwards Dominic Moore and Drew Stafford, and defenceman John-Michael Liles.

How should the B’s handle their UFAs? Who should stay and who should leave?

Dominic Moore should stick around. He’s a low-cost bottom-six forward. He played in all 82 games last season, and in all six playoff games. He put up 25 points (11 goals) for the B’s and was an effective all-around player for the Bruins, especially on special teams.

The Bruins are in the middle of a youth movement, but this is one veteran who should stick around. Moore helped make the fourth line relevant again. While it wasn’t the Merlot line of 2010-11, it was a dependable line that provided supplemental scoring for the B’s.

“It was a very enjoyable season for me to be a part of this group,” said Moore of his time with Boston. “Good group of players, great leadership – especially with this group between Zee and Bergy and Krech and Marchy. I mean, these guys are as good as it gets when it comes to leadership.”

 “So it was an honor to be a part of that and we’ll see what happens going forward, but I enjoyed my time for sure and we’ll see what happens.”

Stafford came over at the trade deadline from the Winnipeg Jets. The 31-year old forward moved up and down the lines during the 18 games he played in the regular season. While he only put up 8 points for the B’s(which was more than Matt Beleskey or Jimmy Hayes), he was a solid player for the team.

Drew Stafford is the UFA on the fence for Boston. If the Bruins exercise their buyouts (and get rid of players like Beleskey and Hayes), than Stafford will end up staying.  If the B’s don’t choose to use a buyout than Stafford will likely be left adrift in free agency.

“Overall, extremely positive,” shared Stafford with the Bruins staff on his time in the Black and Gold. “Everyone in here, it’s a lot of great people here and teammates, management, coaching staff, everything is definitely positive.”

“If there’s any kind of a chance, that’s something that I’m definitely into. I know my wife wasn’t able to make it out, but we had talked about it a little bit as a possibility and that’s something that obviously Sweens and my agent, if they feel like moving forward, it could be a good fit, then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

“But I know the business side of things kind of works itself out that way, but me personally,” continued Stafford. “I loved my experience here and that would be great, but we’ll see what happens.”

Defenceman John-Michael Liles was brought over at the 2016 trade deadline. He had a rough go of it this season, just putting up five points for the Black and Gold. He suffered a serious concussion early in the season, limiting him to 36 games.

It’s highly unlikely that Liles will be coming back for another year in Boston. Even with impending departure of Kevan Miller/Colin Miller/Adam McQuaid to Las Vegas, the Bruins are more than set for defencemen. Charlie McAvoy’s strong entrance (and the B’s continued plan to find a use for Joe Morrow) mean that there won’t be any room for Liles on the roster next season.

“We’ll see. I’ve kind of taken it a year at a time. I’m not going to get too concerned with what’s going to happen here in the next few months,” said Liles of impending free agency. “It was great to get back into the playoffs.”

 “Obviously, the circumstances for me getting in weren’t what you’re looking for, guys going down to injury, especially a number of guys going down due to injury,” he said. “But, for me, it was just trying to do whatever I could to help the team and I felt good playing there.”

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