Boston Bruins: Free Agent Frenzy 2017
What should the Bruins do in free agency? The best answer is play it safe and don’t make a big splash.
The “biggest” fish in this years UFA class is Kevin Shattenkirk, and he’s been linked to teams left right and center so far. Some of this probably has some merit as teams are certainly interested and going to inquire but remember he’s expressed interest in playing for a New York area team. As far as the B’s go they need to stay far away from what is likely going to be a 7 year 49 million dollar contract. Don’t get me wrong Shattenkirk would be a nice pick up for almost any team but with Bruins having an abundance of right handed shot defencemen I don’t believe adding another one to the mix is going to be helpful. Especially when the contract terms could hinder the deals for Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy or force them to move piece out in a couple years time. The best option for the Bruins on defence is to find a suitable candidate for second or third pairing on the left side, on a short term deal for reasonable money. Some candidates that come to mind would be Trevor Daley (linked heavily to Detroit by Elliott Friedman currently), Mike Del Zotto or Dmitri Kulikov. The latter two on more of a show and prove type deal for a year or two, at which point the B’s can resign or part ways this will allow them time to incorporate the likes of Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril into the mix. They currently have options that played last season for the Providence Bruins in Rob O’gara and Matt Grzelcyk to play third pairing with either Adam Mcquaid or Kevan Miller. So hopefully Don Sweeney practices patience here and doesn’t rush out and sign someone who is going to cause cap issues down the road when they could be incorporating some new young blood to the blue line. One other option Sweeney has here is trade a piece like Ryan Spooner for some help on the back end but we’ll get into that in the next piece about the B’s roster for the 2017-2018 season and possible trades that we could see.
Back up Goalie
With Mike Condon resigning in Ottawa the best option for a reasonably priced backup goalie is gone. The Bruins have Anton Khudobin signed for more season at 1.2 million dollars and unless you can get the likes of Brian Elliott for less than that you have to stick with what we have. Khudobin will likely have his work cut out for him in camp to win the backup role with up and comer Zane McIntyre playing well last season in Providence and Malcom Subban who came to life down the stretch trying to prove to the world he’s not a bust. Either of those two could see time serving as back to Tuukka Rask this season if Khudobin falters like he did last season.
The biggest splash here for Don Sweeney would be to ink David Pastrnak to six year deal with a salary in the 6-6.5 million dollar range. That’s comparable to others in the past in a ties down one of Boston’s most dynamic forwards for a long time. Notable UFA departures are Dominic Moore and Drew Stafford who’ve both expressed an interest in returning to the B’s for another season. Both played well for the B’s contributing when needed and not being any sort of liability. If a short term easy money deal can be worked out with these two “vets” it wouldn’t surprise me to see them returning for another season. Again here Boston’s GM Don Sweeney needs to exert some patience and avoid chasing the high profile vets here in Marleau, Thornton, Sharp, Jagr or Iginla. There’s been some mixed reviews on Sweeney’s FA signings of Belesky and Backes and the last thing he needs to here is create another immovable contract by signing the likes of Scott Hartnell for example. With the recent singing of Noel Acciari and Anders Bjork Boston’s top 12 is running out room, especially when you factor in the play of Sean Kuraly in the playoffs and the potential for guys like Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Jake Debrusk, Danton Heinen, Zach Senyshyn, Peter Ceharlik to make some noise in camp and fight for starting jobs. They are also much more affordable options for the Bruins to sprinkle in to fill out their roster. So if Sweeney can get some depth scoring for a low price then maybe he jumps but otherwise the internal options seem to be the way to go here. If Sweeney can off load some salary and roster spots in Matt Belesky and Jimmy Hayes he’s got some kids chomping at the bit to get into the lineup.
So none of this is going to make the Bruins immediate “contenders” in the Eastern conference, however staying the course and not jeopardizing the future is the best course of action here. Nashville proved as long as you can into the playoffs and stay healthy anything can happen. Sweeny has for the most part stuck to his visions of growing the prospect pool while keeping the team competitive and he needs to stay the course here.