( Photo Credit: Sergie Belski-USA TODAY SPORTS )

By: Michael Rudd | Follow me on Twitter @Bosmike808.

It’s not a secret that Boston forward Craig Smith is on the trade block. According to CapFriendly, Boston is approximately $2.2 million over the salary cap with 24 roster players. Moving Craig Smith and his $3.1 million cap hit gives the Bruins just under 900k in cap room. That’s not a lot of space, and Smith would still need to be replaced in the lineup.

Boston can also bury $1.125 million of a player’s deal in the AHL to create additional cap space. A player like Wagner, who spent most of last season in the AHL, could be sent down, taking that $1.125 million off the books. That would leave Boston with about two million dollars in cap space. Here are some free agents who could be signed with that room to replace Craig Smith in the lineup.

Daniel Sprong

( Photo Credit: Nick Wass / AP Photo )

The first free agent on the list is Daniel Sprong. The 25-year-old is right-handed and can play either wing. A 2015 2nd-round pick of the Penguins, Sprong had plenty of hype but has yet to reach that potential. The 18-19 season saw Sprong play 16 games in Pittsburgh, followed by 47 in Anaheim after being traded. Daniel only scored four points for the Penguins vs. nineteen for the Ducks, including 14 goals. The difference was a jump from 8:34 in ice time to 13:07 with the Ducks. The 19-20 season saw Daniel spend all but eight games in the AHL, scoring 33 points in 44 games.

In the 20′-21′ season with Washington, Sprong would play in 42 NHL games scoring 13 goals and 20 points. Another good season building on the 14 goals in 63 games during the 18-19 NHL season. In 21-22, Sprong was once again traded mid-season playing 46 games for Washington and 16 games for Seattle. For the season, Sprong finished with 14 goals and 20 points. Six of those goals came in his final 16 games with Seattle. In those 16 games, Sprong fired 51 shots, half his total in 47 games with the Caps. Sprong has shown he has 20-goal potential, scoring at a 25-goal pace in 2020-21. With Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha creating plenty of room, Sprong is a low-risk, high-reward option management should strongly consider.

Alex Galchenyuk

(Photo Credit: Ben Margot/ AP Photo)

The next potential Craig Smith replacement is former Montreal Canadiens 2012 3rd overall pick Alex Galchenyuk. The 28-year-old left-handed forward can play center and both wings. Going back to the 18-19 season, Galchenyuk played in 72 games for Arizona, scoring 19 goals and 41 points. This was also the last season Alex saw over 15 minutes of ice time. An offseason trade sent him to the Penguins, where in 45 games, he scored five goals and 17 points, playing just 11:29 per game. At the deadline, a trade to the Wild would see Alex score seven points in his last fourteen games, playing 14:56 per game.

In the 20-21 season, Galchenyuk signed with Ottawa, where he would only score one point in eight games. After a series of moves, Alex landed in Toronto and, in his final 26 games, scored 12 points in just under 14 minutes per game. Finally, last season saw Galchenyuk back in Arizona, where in 60 games, he would score just six goals and 21 points. However, an interesting stat is Alex won 52.3% of his faceoffs 214/409. Much like Sprong, ice time and linemates have been a significant factor in Galchenyuk’s ups and downs. Will he ever live up to being picked 3rd? No, but the numbers show a competent third-liner who could cost less than a million for the season.

Sonny Milano

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The final main target before a pair of honorable mentions is Sonny Milano. A left-handed winger who can play either side, the 26-year-old was the 16th pick back in 2014 by Columbus. For Sonny, we will go back to the 17-18 season, where in 55 games, he scored 14 goals and 22 points. A good first year that was followed by only eight NHL games in 18-19. Milano did play in 27 AHL games, where he scored 11 goals and 24 points. In the 2019-20 season, Sonny was back in the NHL, where in 46 games for Columbus, he would score five goals and 18 points.

A trade to the Ducks would see a three-minute increase in ice time, and in nine games, Sonny scored five points. The 20-21 season would see Milano go scoreless in six games while struggling with post-concussion symptoms. Finally healthy with a prominent role available for the taking in the Duck’s top-six, Milano broke out in a big way. In 66 games last season, Milano scored 14 goals and 34 points, including this goal for the ages.

Injuries, along with some coaching system issues, have held back this very talented player. At just 26 and now realizing that potential that made him the 16th pick, this is an opportunity the team can’t miss. Milano is the best fit of the three and would likely have a little issue filling Debrusk’s top-line spot should old habits come back.

Honorable Mentions

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Now that leaves one honorable mention. This player fits the need created by a Craig Smith trade, but it’s more unlikely either comes to Boston. The first honorable mention is Evan Rodrigues. At 29-years-old the right shooting undrafted forward had a career year in Pittsburgh. In 82 games, Rodrigues scored 19 goals and 43 points. With a previous career high of 29 points, last year’s production isn’t to be expected going forward. While the season as a whole was by far his best, once the Penguins were healthy, his production wasn’t the same.

There you have it, four potential Craig Smith replacements should the depth forward become a cap casualty. Personally, I would rather keep Smith and move other pieces instead. How about you? What player from this list would you most like to see? Maybe you have another player I overlooked in mind. Feel free to leave all those comments and until next time, stay safe out there and LET’S GO, BRUINS!!