By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge
The 2020 NHL Free Agency has only been open a little over a week now, but yet it feels like it has been months. Many players signed to their new teams on Friday when free agency opened, but some of the top players waited longer to find their new homes. Some even remained unsigned. After a week and most of the names off the board, what do the Bruins do?
Going into free agency, the Bruins had a checklist of things to take care of. Sign their restricted free agents (Karson Kuhlman, Peter Cehlarik, Matt Grzelyck, and Jake Debrusk), figure out what to do with their unrestricted free agents (Torey Krug, Joakim Nordstrom, and Zdeno Chara), and sign their own free agents. So far, here is what we know. Krug has signed with St. Louis, and the Bruins have signed Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith to a three year/$3.1M AAV deal. Also, they recently signed Kevan Miller to a one year/$1.25M AAV deal.
Many Bruins fans are left scratching their heads right now as they were hoping Smith wouldn’t be the only signing. Nothing bad against Smith, but we all know the Bruins have been preaching there will be changes, and we haven’t seen it. Now, the Bruins have a gaping hole on the left side of the defense.
As of October 12th, 2020, the Bruins have a projected $11 million in cap space. Keep in mind; they still have to sign Debrusk and Grzelyck who will command around $5-$7 million combined, maybe even more. Then, there is the looming Chara decision. However, with certain moves, I do think the Bruins can afford one more forward addition.
On Monday, we saw two of the remaining two names go off the board. Earlier in the day, Tyler Toffoli signed a four-year $4.5 million contract with the Montreal Canadiens. This one stung a bit because that is a very affordable, mid-term contract that this team could’ve used. Toffoli seemed like he would’ve been a good fit with the Bruins as well. Later in the day, Alex Pietrangelo signed a massive seven-year $8.8 million AAV deal with the Vegas Golden Knights. Don Sweeney had already come out and said in his presser that he didn’t see a fit for Pietrangelo on the right side, so this one shouldn’t come as a surprise.
So, who is left that the Bruins could use? Mike Hoffman is still available. This is realistically the only “top free agent” left that should draw the Bruins attention. The Bruins have been connected to Evgenii Dadonov in the past, but with his signing with the Ottawa Senators this Thursday, that ship has sailed. Hoffman has been rumored to accept a one year deal just like Taylor Hall, so the Bruins should be all over this.
Sweeney also mentioned in his presser that he would look outside and in for the certain replacements. This is basically GM cliche saying he’ll look for trades, but he’ll look at some younger guys in the Bruins organization. I mentioned a couple of weeks back that Jakub Zboril and Zach Senyshyn require waivers if they don’t make the NHL team. With Krug now gone, the time is as good as ever for Zboril to make the team on that left side of the defense. The same can be said for Senyshyn. However, he has to compete with the Bruins forward depth and Jack Studnicka, who seems to be a step ahead.
Don’t forget either; the Bruins traded for Ondrej Kase to be that top-six forward. After signing Smith for what seems like, I personally do not believe the Bruins sign another big forward. I now think they turn the page to Debrusk and Grzelyck and looking for a defenseman.
The fact of the matter is that with the current state of the Bruins, they really can’t afford any bigger contracts. They have pieces they can move to free up some cap space, but with so many things left unknown such as the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, Sweeney and company find themselves in a tricky situation.
There is so much unknown in the NHL right now, and especially with the Bruins. Some Bruins fans are losing their patience with Sweeney’s moves, or lack thereof. The next few days and maybe even weeks will be interesting to see what the Bruins do to bolster their roster.