By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Across the NHL, the Bruins have one of the more intriguing offseasons ahead. Primarily because they hold the fate of one of the league’s top unrestricted free agents, Torey Krug.
Krug’s decision ultimately leaves Bruins general manager Don Sweeney with a variety of options. If he stays, the Bruins retain their power play quarterback for the near future, and things are peachy. If he leaves, decisions have to be made. Do you try and trade his negotiating rights, or do just move forward and decide on what to do with the extra cap space?
The Bruins currently don’t have their first or fourth round picks. If a deal can’t be reached with Krug, Sweeney could try and deal his negotiating rights for some draft capital. Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell did this recently with UFA defenseman Joel Edmundson.
If Krug walks in free agency, Don Sweeney is tasked with making use of that cap space. Does he add on defense, add up front, both? Oddly enough, Krug’s defensive partner, Brandon Carlo has popped up in trade rumors as of late. His name was most recently due to the Athletic’s Craig Custance’s NHL Trade Big Board, published earlier today.
Carlo is an interesting trade chip. Regardless of whether Krug re-signs or not, Carlo could be leveraged in a trade for a legitimate top-six scorer. He is set to hit restricted free agency in the summer of 2021, and holds a pretty reasonable $2.85 million cap hit at just 23-years-old. He has plenty of trade value. But, as mentioned by Custance, trading him is a bit of a longshot.
Another potential trade chip that I have mentioned in the past is Jake DeBrusk. I think the case to move DeBrusk is to upgrade at the second-line left wing position with someone like Nikolaj Ehlers, or someone else. Other than that, I don’t see much of a reason to move him. Like I have also said in the past, I’m not campaigning to trade DeBrusk, but it’s possible that he is moved.
Not many people may be thinking about pending UFA winger and blocked shot machine, Joakim Nordstrom, but he has an interesting offseason ahead of him. In a world where the Bruins have more cap space and don’t have Trent Frederic knocking at the door for NHL fourth line duty, I think Sweeney would love to keep Nordstrom around. There’s a chance he re-signs here, but it’s looking more likely that he signs elsewhere.
His relentless, bullet train style is going to make him an attractive free agent option for a team with a bad penalty kill. Nashville, Ottawa, and Detroit are a few teams that come to mind. He had an excellent postseason especially, always being one of the more noticeable players on ice, flying around and hitting everyone in sight. I anticipate a big market for him in free agency.
While there are other matters to take care of with the team, those are the big decisions to make for Sweeney, in my eyes. This is the most important offseason of his career. This veteran core isn’t going to be around forever. It’s up to Sweeney to put a team that can make some noise together for the 2020-2021 season.