By Jesse Jiminez                     Follow Me On Twitter @Jessemedscience 

It’s sure getting a little dark out there, and I don’t mean the unpredictable New England weather. Rather, the calm before the storm that quietly sits above our heads just mere hours ahead of free agency. We’ve already seen a lightning strike with the Chicago Blackhawks trading Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets, re-acquiring Brandon Saad in the process. We also saw Pittsburgh make an interesting move by nabbing Ryan Reaves from the St. Louis Blues, who will undoubtedly serve as Sydney Crosby’s new body guard for the foreseeable future.

This year’s free agency class, as a whole, is not very strong  — Perhaps pushing clubs to fill their respective holes via trade. This doesn’t mean there are not intriguing names on the FA market. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Kevin Shattenkirk headline the list of available targets. While Karl Alzner, Alexander Radulov, and Justin William provide viable plan ‘B’ options. Plenty of speculation has started to bubble on the surface of many rumors, many of them involving the Boston Bruins. NHL analyst Pierre McGuire recently told TSN radio in Canada that he feels Shattenkirk eventually ends up with the black and gold. “I think Boston…He’s a specialist player and his specialty is the powerplay, he’s really good at the powerplay.”

**I interrupt this blog post to bring you some NHL breaking news**

Various sources, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie, indicating Minnesota has traded Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville to Buffalo in exchange for Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, and a pick — 11:50am (6/30/2017)

**Now back to our original scheduled blog post, thanks for reading**

Another interesting scenario would be signing Joe Thornton to a short-term deal, perhaps bringing full circle what has turned out to be a tremendous statistical career. There are definitely miles on the tires but the 37-year old center has put up at least 50-pts each of the last four seasons and still possess one of the games most elite skill-sets. Of course, this would be contingent on Boston moving a body or two to offset the $7mill+ price tag Thornton’s camp would command. However, with David Pastrnak’s extension still in the works Don Sweeney would have to put his Harvard degree to good use and make things work financially.

According to Sweeney’s pre-FA presser this morning it does not sound like he would be too active on the market — Although he did state that he’s committed to icing a competitive team. Which begs the question, are the Bruins in a position to improve their hockey club via trade? With a plethora of talent in the system and some cap space to play with (roughly $14.5mill after Hayes buyout) Don Sweeney and company have ample options in regards to what type of moves they can make. Let’s not sugarcoat this, Bruins fans have been salivating for a blockbuster, and they’re well aware Boston is in a position to pull something off, something big.

Prominent names like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Jonas Brodin continue to circle the halls of TD Garden. Rumors are quite speculative in nature, even fabricated, but there are also ones that tend to hang around just enough to add some dramatic effect and story lines. How the saying goes, “Where there’s smoke, there is fire, ” and when it comes to Duchene, Landeskog, and Brodin, here are a few embers giving fuel to the fumes. At this year’s trade deadline, there was a general feeling around the league that Joe Sakic and Don Sweeney were close on a deal for either Landeskog or Duchene — A package that would include young promising 20-yr old defensemen Brandon Carlo. There were mix reactions, depending who’d you asked. Some scouts feel Carlo is a future top-pair defensemen while others say he’s a top 3 at best with limited offensive upside. It was quite obvious how the Bruins felt at the time as a deal never materialized.

With an apparent need for a top-6 forward, would Sweeney and company re-consider trading Brandon Carlo if it meant getting back a young dynamic forward? For what its worth, the defensemen position is that hardest position in hockey to project as it takes time for players to adjust to the speed and how to read the game at a high level. Is it worth taking the chance with an established player, one that has had success? Would it be a gamble to give up a traditional stay-at-home defensemen who may have more tools in the box than initially projected? Time is ticking and there are decisions to be made with this group. There’s no doubt this Bruins team will be younger, faster, and more skilled come opening night — But whose names will we be hearing being called for the first game of the season four months from now…?

Signing off,

Jesse ” The Dominican PuckHead”

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