By: Mike Sullivan | Follow me on Twitter @_MikeSullivan
At noon on Wednesday, NHL free agency began. With the Bruins pushed up against the cap and plenty of moves to be made, there was significant chatter surrounding two players. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.
As we all know, Patrice Bergeron’s future is somewhat uncertain. There have been plenty of rumors flying around contradicting one another, so it’s tough to trust any update at the moment. Therefore, I won’t believe any report unless it comes directly from the team or Bergeron himself.
On the Krejci side of things, they’re talking. As long as they’re in open dialogue, then that’s a positive. David Krejci coming back to Boston would likely maintain his second-line center role on the team under Patrice Bergeron, of course, that’s if he signs back with Boston. I don’t envision any other center on this team that could fill the role of 2C better than Krejci. Yes, the Bruins did trade for Zacha and barring any trades, he’ll most likely play on the wing, whether alongside Krejci on the second line or more of a bottom-six role that remains to be seen.
Regarding the acquisition of Pavel Zacha, he’s a former sixth overall pick in 2015 whose performance has been lackluster. The Bruins shipped 31-year-old Erik Haula to New Jersey for Zacha early Wednesday afternoon. Zacha has played in a total of 386 games, compiling 179 points. His best season came last year when he tallied 36 points in 70 games. The Czech Republic native is a heavy-set center who can also play on the wing. Don Sweeney indicated that in the long-term, he envisions Zacha as a center, but his role on the team depends on the outcome of Bergeron and Krejci.
At 25 years old, Pavel has plenty of time to grow and reach his top six potential. His style of play fits what the Bruins’ identity always strives towards. The former New Jersey Devil stands at six-foot-three, weighing 210 pounds. The Bruins are hoping he can bring that kind of tenacity attributed to players of his size to the lineup with a mixture of offensive creativity. In 2015-2016 he put together an incredible year with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL, filling the stat sheet with 64 points in 51 games. Boston is hoping to help him find his offensive talents yet again.
Boston also acquired five depth pieces that will likely spend most of their time in Providence. Former second-round pick left winger A.J. Greer, and Ontario native defenseman Daniel Renouf signed two two-year, two-way contracts of $762,500. Don Sweeney was not done adding depth as he signed former fifth-round pick Connor Carrick, 27-year-old center Vinni Lettieri and goalie Keith Kinkaid to one-year, two-way contracts worth $750,000.
Vinni Lettieri is an AHL all-star but struggles at the NHL level. Kinkaid is an experienced goalie in the NHL and AHL, posting a career 0.905 save percentage and a GAA of 2.92. Connor Carrick has played in 241 career NHL games posting 49 points. Daniel Renouf is a defenseman with plenty to prove, and AJ Greer is as gritty as they come. So do yourself a favor, watch this video and see for yourself. This is all you need to know. As if it’s taken straight from the movie ‘Goon.’
All in all, it was a relatively quiet day, one of free agency for Boston. Many were expecting an announcement of Bergeron and Krejci, which ultimately did not come. The main takeaway from the first day of free agency is that the Bruins added depth pieces. Swapping Erik Haula for Pavel Zacha is an excellent trade that I think will work out well for the Bruins. Boston got younger and cashed in on Haula after having his best season. Look for more activity from the Bruins in the next couple of days and weeks.