(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe)
By Mike Cratty Twitter: @Mike_Cratty
The NHL free agency pool is interesting this year and may force the Boston Bruins to build a roster within the organization for this upcoming season. Some free-agent names include former Bruin Joe Thornton, former St. Louis Blues, Kevin Shattenkirk and T.J. Oshie, as well as other players like Patrick Sharp, Justin Williams, Jaromir Jagr, Alexander Radulov and Dmitry Kulikov. Some of those guys may sound like promising fits, but the Bruins might not have enough space to accommodate them.
Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported in late May that Oshie’s new deal with the Capitals is ‘all but done.’ There is the possibility of their discussions going south, but it doesn’t sound likely at this point.
Don Sweeney chased defensemen Dmitry Kulikov and Kevin Shattenkirk hard in the past, to no avail. Personally, I’m not interested in either of them anymore. It sounds like with Kevin Klein’s possible NHL retirement and with Dan Girardi being bought out, the New York Rangers are making room to accommodate Shattenkirk.
Some other free-agent defensemen include Andrei Markov, who is 38-years-old and will undoubtedly re-sign in Montreal, former Bruin Dennis Wideman, Mark Streit, Dan Girardi, Francois Beauchemin, Michael Stone, Trevor Daley, Johnny Oduya and Karl Alzner.
Karl Alzner might make sense, but will probably look for a raise from his $2.8 million cap hit. Michael Stone would make sense if Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy weren’t players vouching for top-four ice time on the right side.
The other free-agent names are just aging and not what the Bruins need right now on their back end. Dan Girardi and Francois Beauchemin were just bought out, which should be a telling sign to stay away from them in free agency.
Patrick Sharp or Mr. Game 7, Justin Williams, might make sense on the right wing if you can get one of them on a reasonable deal. Maybe Sweeney drops Stafford to free agency and replaces him with Sharp or Williams. Stafford and Sharp put up similar numbers last year and have both seen scoring prowess in the past.
Justin Williams, on the other hand, had 24 goals and 48 points in the regular season at age 35. He would probably cost the most to obtain of the three due to his recent production and playoff success.
The other guys listed really just don’t make a lot of sense and will likely re-sign with their current teams. Guys like Sharp, Williams, Thornton, and Jagr are aging veterans that might not make sense in a Bruins lineup that is working on a youth movement. I think it’s safe to say the Bruins won’t make much noise in free agency. Looking at it from a different perspective, a veteran that could help bridge the gap for some of the young, rising Bruins forwards could be beneficial.
( Above Photo Credit: TSN .ca )
It has been speculated that the Boston Bruins could invest in a backup goaltender via free agency. I’m gonna put it out there and say I just don’t see it happening. Anton Khudobin still has a year left on his deal and came together towards the end of the season. Zane McInytre is still an option as well, even though he struggled at the NHL level last season.
Realistic unrestricted free-agent goaltender options include a member of the Calgary Flames goaltender tandem, Brian Elliott or former Bruins backup, Chad Johnson, Darcy Keumper, Keith Kinkaid, Peter Budaj, Anders Nilsson, or Massachusetts Native, Mike Condon.
Bringing in another goaltender could impact the confidence of Zane McIntyre, and it’s doubtful that anyone wants that.
If anything, the verdict here is, the Bruins could pick up a right-winger via free agency. That right-winger would be one of the names that I mentioned, Patrick Sharp or Justin Williams. They could also just re-sign Drew Stafford and be done in that department. The defense and goaltender free-agent market will be one that the Bruins will have no involvement with.