The Boston Bruins have not been terribly active in the free agent market, losing MIchale Ryder to the Dallas Stars and signing the perennially disappointing Benoit Pouliot to a one-year deal. You can bet that the Bruins are not done, as Pouliot is likely insurance for injury and the Bruins still have a few more holes to fill.
The Bruins are pretty set at the goaltender position, as Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask both return. Thomas, 37, is coming off the best season of his career and will be looking to have another great season in 2011-12. Rask was disappointing this past season, but he should be expected to bounce back and take even more games from Thomas in 2011-12. The Bruins need to decide of Rask is their goalie of the future. If he is, get him 35 or so games. If not, it’s time to explore trade options.
Boston also signed Anton Khudobin, acquired in a deadline deal with Minnesota, to a two-year, two-way contract. Khudobin, who went 9-4-1 with Providence, has the potential to be a solid NHL goaltender but it is doubtful he could be a No. 1 keeper.
A position of true depth, the Bruins have several solid centers. David Krejci proved to be a No. 1 center in the playoff, leading the NHL in scoring. Meanwhile, Patrice Bergeron was one of Boston’s best overall players in the regular season and playoffs. Both Rich Peverely and Chris Kelly can center the third line, while Gregory Campbell is a solid fourth-line pivot man. Tyler Seguin can also play center, and Marc Savard is still on the roster – tough he is expected to miss the season with concussion issues.
The Bruins are in pretty good shape here. Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton should be wingers with Krejci on the top line – provided Horton has recovered from the injury suffered in the Stanley Cup finals, while Peverley and Seguin will fill spots on the second and or third lines and Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton join Campbell on an excellent fourth line. Pouliot will likely see time with the fourth line and possibly the third. The Bruins still need to fill in some holes in the winger position. One will be filled by the inevitable signing of RFA Brad Marchand, who will join Bergeron and either Seguin or Peverely on the second line. The Bruins could still use a top 6/9 forward, and will look to minor leaguers Jordan Caron, Maxim Suave, and Jamie Arniel as well as junior players Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight to fill in a spot or two. Free agent possibilities include Jamie Langenbrunner, Chris Drury, Alexander Frolov, Cory Stillman … and there’s always a small chance the B’s will sign Steven Stamkos.
The Bruins are quite deep at defense, with five of the six playoff regulars returning, and two potential young stars in Matt Bartkowski and Steven Kamfer. Look for the Bruins to try and sign someone like Bryan McCbae, Anton Babchuk, Anton Stralman, or een Tomas Kaberle to give them even more depth while Kamfer and Bartkowski (and David Warsofksy) develop for a bit longer. I would not rule out an attempt to make a deal with RFAs Keith Yandle, Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, or Zach Bogosian.
Sens Shot has an interesting look at how the first days of free agency will affect the upcoming collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and its players. It’s worth a read.
Topics: Benoit Pouliot, Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Chris Drury, Drew Doughty, Free Agency, Jamie Langenbrunner, Keith Yandle, Michael Ryder, Patrice Bergeron, Steven Stamkos, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin