What Should The Boston Bruins Do With Their UFAs?

john-michael-liles-nhl-boston-bruins-tampa-bay-lightning-827x560By Andrew Thompson                                              Twitter:@godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins have three unrestricted free agents going into the 2017-18 season. How should the Black and Gold handle them?

Going into the 2017-18 season, the Boston Bruins have three impending unrestricted free agents (UFA).  The B’s now need to decide what to do with forwards Dominic Moore and Drew Stafford, and defenceman John-Michael Liles.

How should the B’s handle their UFAs? Who should stay and who should leave?

Dominic Moore should stick around. He’s a low-cost bottom-six forward. He played in all 82 games last season, and in all six playoff games. He put up 25 points (11 goals) for the B’s and was an effective all-around player for the Bruins, especially on special teams.

The Bruins are in the middle of a youth movement, but this is one veteran who should stick around. Moore helped make the fourth line relevant again. While it wasn’t the Merlot line of 2010-11, it was a dependable line that provided supplemental scoring for the B’s.

“It was a very enjoyable season for me to be a part of this group,” said Moore of his time with Boston. “Good group of players, great leadership – especially with this group between Zee and Bergy and Krech and Marchy. I mean, these guys are as good as it gets when it comes to leadership.”

 “So it was an honor to be a part of that and we’ll see what happens going forward, but I enjoyed my time for sure and we’ll see what happens.”

Stafford came over at the trade deadline from the Winnipeg Jets. The 31-year old forward moved up and down the lines during the 18 games he played in the regular season. While he only put up 8 points for the B’s(which was more than Matt Beleskey or Jimmy Hayes), he was a solid player for the team.

Drew Stafford is the UFA on the fence for Boston. If the Bruins exercise their buyouts (and get rid of players like Beleskey and Hayes), than Stafford will end up staying.  If the B’s don’t choose to use a buyout than Stafford will likely be left adrift in free agency.

“Overall, extremely positive,” shared Stafford with the Bruins staff on his time in the Black and Gold. “Everyone in here, it’s a lot of great people here and teammates, management, coaching staff, everything is definitely positive.”

“If there’s any kind of a chance, that’s something that I’m definitely into. I know my wife wasn’t able to make it out, but we had talked about it a little bit as a possibility and that’s something that obviously Sweens and my agent, if they feel like moving forward, it could be a good fit, then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

“But I know the business side of things kind of works itself out that way, but me personally,” continued Stafford. “I loved my experience here and that would be great, but we’ll see what happens.”

Defenceman John-Michael Liles was brought over at the 2016 trade deadline. He had a rough go of it this season, just putting up five points for the Black and Gold. He suffered a serious concussion early in the season, limiting him to 36 games.

It’s highly unlikely that Liles will be coming back for another year in Boston. Even with impending departure of Kevan Miller/Colin Miller/Adam McQuaid to Las Vegas, the Bruins are more than set for defencemen. Charlie McAvoy’s strong entrance (and the B’s continued plan to find a use for Joe Morrow) mean that there won’t be any room for Liles on the roster next season.

“We’ll see. I’ve kind of taken it a year at a time. I’m not going to get too concerned with what’s going to happen here in the next few months,” said Liles of impending free agency. “It was great to get back into the playoffs.”

 “Obviously, the circumstances for me getting in weren’t what you’re looking for, guys going down to injury, especially a number of guys going down due to injury,” he said. “But, for me, it was just trying to do whatever I could to help the team and I felt good playing there.”

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Where does Liles fit?

By: Kyle Benson (OfficialKBenson)

On Sunday night, Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles, made his return to the lineup after being out of action for almost two months due to a concussion. His first game back wasn’t a good one, as he quite literally gave away the game-winning goal. What made this more painful was the fact that young d-man, Colin Miller, was benched in favor of the returning veteran.john-michael-liles-nhl-boston-bruins-tampa-bay-lightning-827x560

C.Miller has been impressive this season, developing his game with the B’s and excelling. He has put up six points in 33 games played, and it’s only a matter of time until he moves up from the bottom defensive pairing.

With the travesty that happened on Sunday, it is clear that Liles should not take C.Miller’s spot in the lineup anymore. Liles is not a garbage defenseman though and has many years of experience in the league. Since Liles has been out though, the team has really only used one set of pairings that looks like this:

Chara – Carlo
Krug – McQuaid
K.Miller – C.Miller

Claude Julien has gotten better with changing up the lines in recent years, but even the Krug-McQuaid pair has been together for a couple years now and could maybe use a shakeup. Realistically, based on play and stats, Liles could step in Adam McQuaid’s or Kevan Miller’s spot and play as well or better than the two. Liles does have more points than the two, with five on the season, but defense is not all about points. Other than this, there are two major problems with him trying to takeover the other two’s places.

Size and Physicality

It’s no secret that Liles is the least physically imposing out of himself, McQuaid, and K.Miller. Both the two have size and weight advantages on Liles, and they have been known to scrap as well. While both these attributes are good to have, the B’s have size on their first pairing and scraps/fighting are being phased out of the NHL faster than you know. This doesn’t mean having both these attributes is a bad thing.

Contracts and Money

Out of the three defensemen, Liles is making the least money and his contract is up at the end of the season. K.Miller and McQuaid both recently signed new contracts, K.Miller making $2.5mil this season and McQuaid making $3mil. After this season McQuaid is signed for another two seasons and K.Miller for another three. Believe it or not, these contracts give them some pull and will influence Julien’s decision to put them in over Liles, to make GM Don Sweeney happy, and to make sure his money is not going to waste.

Unfortunately for Liles, these problems will most likely keep him out of the daily lineup and he will have to wait for someone who needs rest or an injury. Liles had a horrid first game back, and that may have been the deciding factor to keep him out for now.