By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn
The Bruins certainly strengthened their team, both in the short term and the long term, with the acquisition of Hampus Lindholm at this year’s trade deadline. Lindholm should be able to play alongside Charlie McAvoy for the foreseeable future, solidifying the top pairing. What General Manager Don Sweeney was not able to address, however, was the lack of a bonafide second-line center. Erik Haula at times filled the void valiantly, but I think we can all agree that the team would be stronger if he could play third-line center or wing.
That is assuming that Patrice Bergeron chooses to resign this offseason, which is becoming increasingly more in doubt, at least for me. So far in these playoffs, the Bruins have not looked like they are able to compete at the highest level when the most important time of the season comes around. Before this series, I was under the belief that if the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, Bergeron would call it quits and go out on top. I figured that if they do not he would stick around next season to keep giving it one more chance until he really cannot anymore.
A third possibility has now crept into my mind, though. If the Bruins do not turn around their play soon, they could be dumped out of the playoffs in such an embarrassing fashion that Bergeron realizes that his window has already closed and may hang up his skates as a result. That possibility makes my task of attempting to look at potential free agent targets much more difficult.
I think the aim is relatively similar, however, regardless of if the Bruins lose their captain to retirement or not. If he chooses to ride off into the sunset, the Bruins need to find someone to center the first line. Whether that’s with Marchand and Pastrnak, or Pasta and another winger, or Marchy and a second winger, they need someone to play down the middle for the first line.
If Bergeron chooses to stay, though, I do not think anyone will debate with me about his ability to center a first line in the NHL. He is still one of the premier centers in the league, and if he chooses to sign a one-year deal with the Bruins, then he will occupy that role again. So, I will look at a candidate for each situation. In both situations, though, I believe the Bruins will need to make some space in terms of salary in order to go out and get their guys.
Compound that with the fact Jake DeBrusk wants out of Boston and I think it is fair to operate under the assumption that the B’s can move DeBrusk for draft picks to clear some cap room. I also threw in a defenseman, either Mike Reilly or Derek Forbort (same salary, so take your pick), in order to give the Bruins somewhere between $4 million and $6 million to work with.
I think the current Carolina center would be a great second-line center for the Bruins if Bergeron chooses to come back. With over 100 goals and 300 points in his career, Domi has proven that he can score and create chances for others. He also has a toughness that I think the Bruins need. We have seen the Bruins get pushed around in the playoffs for a few years now, most specifically in the 2019 finals against the Blues. Domi could add some toughness to the lineup while also providing some secondary scoring think the current Carolina center would be a great second-line center for the Bruins if Bergeron chooses to come back.
With over 100 goals and 300 points in his career, Domi has proven that he can score and create chances for others. He also has a toughness that I think the Bruins need. We have seen the Bruins get pushed around in the playoffs for a few years now, most specifically in the 2019 finals against the Blues. Domi could add some toughness to the lineup while also providing some secondary scoring. He currently makes $5.3 million, so he might be tough to sign, but I think if Bergeron is willing to take a bit of a cut to stay for another year, Sweeney could make this work.
This is a choice for if Bergeron does decide to retire. As I said, if Bergy goes, the Bruins’ top priority should be getting a replacement. Giroux could be that guy. He has been a top-tier center in the league for a decade at this point and playing alongside either Marchand, Pastrnak, or both, he could be awesome for the Bruins. I do not think there will be enough salary to sign both Bergeron and Giroux, but if Bergeron moves on, I think Giroux should be the top choice for his replacement.
He is a proven scorer in the league who I think does not get enough credit for his overall game outside of the scoring. As a long-serving captain of the Flyers, he has shown that he can provide the leadership that will be needed if Bergeron moves on. The only problem with Giroux is his high price tag. He currently makes just over $8 million, so he would definitely need to take a price cut to play in Boston.
This is the crazy option. This is the wildcard. Would Bruins fans even accept Nazem Kadri in Boston? The facts are, he is a very competent center. He brings physicality, scoring, and, yes, a bit of a crazy streak that would need to be controlled. With 28 goals and 87 points this season, he is a viable scoring threat. Of course, that comes as part of a high-scoring Avalanche team, but on the Bruins’ top line, he could flourish potentially. That could possibly make him an option that could play on either the first or second line, and in that regard, I think he could be a good option. His current contract is for $4.5 million, so even if he demands an increase, if Bergeron is not coming back, he should be affordable.
I am interested to hear what people think of these options. Obviously, Kadri is a bit of a controversial one. I get that, and I understand if people would not accept him here. However, I think that even he could be a valuable asset as he continues to mature and age. I would personally probably prefer to see Domi and Giroux in black and gold than Kadri, though. Once we get a better idea of Patrice Bergeron’s plans, I think we can start entertaining some realistic options.
Giroux already turned us down at the deadline. What makes you think he would/could change his mind over the summer??