Boston Bruins: Off-Season Outlook And Potential Moves

Dec 9, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN;Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien talks to players during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 9, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN;Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien talks to players during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Bruins: Off-Season Outlook And Potential Moves To Fix The Roster Moving Forward

The Boston Bruins will need to seriously improve their roster if they want to compete and return to the Stanley Cup Finals. When looking at the list of off-season tasks that the Bruins have to accomplish, it’s clear that there is a lot of work to be done.

To start, I’ll outline the free agents that the Bruins have this off-season and determine whether or not they should sign them, negotiate with them, or simply let them go.

Cap Space: $19,175,833

Free Agents:

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Lee Stempniak (UFA): Sign

Loui Eriksson (UFA): Negotiate

Tyler Randell (RFA): Sign

Chris Kelly (UFA): Let go

Brett Connolly (RFA): Let go

Landon Ferraro (RFA): Let go

John-Michael Liles (UFA): Let go

Torey Krug (RFA): Sign

Joe Morrow (RFA): Sign

Zach Trotman (RFA): Let go, or Sign and trade

Jonas Gustavsson (UFA): Let go

Players who could be moved:

Jimmy Hayes, RW

Zdeno Chara, LD

Dennis Seidenberg, LD

Tuukka Rask, G

Seth Griffith, C/RW

Jimmy Hayes was a disaster for the majority of the season. Like Brett Connolly, he didn’t use his size and was mainly invisible out there on the ice. While it’s hard to see the Bruins giving up on either Hayes or Connolly so soon, they are definitely prime candidates to be playing in other uniforms next season.

St. Louis could be interested in Jimmy Hayes due to his size, mainly because they risk losing Troy Brouwer and/or David Backes this off-season. Hayes could still have value to some, and a move could also free up space for a young gun like Jimmy Vesey, Seth Griffith, or even Zachary Senyshyn — to clarify, I’m not saying Zachary Senyshyn is NHL ready, but he is an intriguing option moving forward.

The Bruins may be hesitant to let go of Brett Connolly after giving up two second round picks for him just two trade deadlines ago, but let’s be honest, he isn’t good and doesn’t use his big frame. What is more important, trying to strike deals with Loui Eriksson, Brad Marchand and Torey Krug, or a below average bust?

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  • Zdeno Chara is unlikely to be moved, mainly because of his salary. I think the Bruins will acquire first pairing help and put Big Z on the 2nd defense pair. He is shaky at times, but less pressure should benefit his aging body. Another veteran defender, Dennis Seidenberg, has been rumored to be a buyout candidate. I don’t see the use in buying him out, and I don’t even remember the last time the Bruins used a buyout in general.

    Tuukka Rask is probably the Bruins best trade chip this off-season, should they look to go that route. He can still perform well, but has struggled as of late mainly due to horrible defense. He could be moved for a high end defenseman, along with other assets. The Bruins could move him in a trade with St. Louis or Anaheim involving Brian Elliott, Jake Allen or Frederik Andersen.

    Another trade chip that the Bruins have could be Seth Griffith. The young forward was rumored to be involved in trade deadline talks and his impressive AHL season last year could make him a legit trade piece.

    Some obviously replaceable players on the roster include Chris Kelly, Landon Ferraro, Jonas Gustavsson and John-Michael Liles, while Zach Trotman was picked #210 for a reason; he is a train wreck in his own zone.

    Jonas Gustavsson served well this year, but there is a hungry Malcolm Subban in a contract year that hasn’t gotten a fair shot yet. Let him show what he can do; it’s worth a shot and could raise his value to other teams in the time should they look to hold onto Tuukka Rask.

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    Free Agent Targets:

    David Backes (UFA, STL)

    Troy Brouwer (UFA, STL)

    Kyle Okposo (UFA, NYI)

    David Perron (UFA, ANA)

    Alex Goligoski (UFA, DAL)

    Brian Campbell (UFA, FLA)

    Keith Yandle (UFA, NYR)

    Marek Zidlicky (UFA, NYI)

    Yannick Weber (UFA, VAN)

    Kris Russell (UFA, DAL)

    David Backes is a great leader who could help bring some veteran, big bad Bruins-style grit back to Boston. Additionally, he can put up a decent amount of points. The same goes for Troy Brouwer, also of the St. Louis Blues, who had a terrific 2016 playoffs — his first really solid playoffs of his career. Both players are good playoff performers. Right wing signings will depend on whether Jimmy Vesey signs with the B’s and is forced to slot in on the right side and what they do with Brett Connolly, Jimmy Hayes, and Lee Stempniak.

    Kyle Okposo and David Perron are some less gritty, more offensive options. One downside to Perron is his +/- troubles, although they can certainly be fixed. After going -13 with the Pittsburgh Penguins this year, he went on to post a +12 rating when traded to Anaheim as a result of better chemistry with his linemates, as well as improved team defense and goaltending. Okposo is a great goal scorer with smarts and speed as well, and really, you can’t go wrong with either player for the right price.

    Dan Hamhuis would be a nice addition, but he said at the deadline he wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to be moved to the Bruins. Probably still sore over 2011, I doubt he’ll change his mind come July 1st.

    The Bruins will likely look at Keith Yandle, but I just don’t feel he is worth what he will ask for. If he takes a hometown discount, then the narrative could be different, but if he demands market value, the Bruins are probably better suited to walk away from negotiations.

    Alex Goligoski could be a great option for the Bruins. He can put up decent points and has never finished a season with a negative +/- rating.  He can also move the puck and is a smart player who is also a solid playoff performer.

    Brian Campbell is reportedly looking for a one-year, big money deal. He is old but can still move the puck and skate as well as anyone. His 31 points and a +31 rating while playing in every single game last season at his age isn’t bad either. What’s even more impressive is the fact that he has played in every single regular season game over the past three years. He is a battle-tested, durable veteran.

    The Bruins looked at Kris Russell at the deadline, and could do it again come July 1st. While I think there are better options out there, he could be a good fit for the Bruins at the right cap hit.

    Yannick Weber and Marek Zidlicky are not likely going to ask for much this off-season, and Weber would likely improve  his -17 with the B’s. Marek Zidlicky on the other hand, has had injury problems over the past few years, but is pretty useful when he is healthy. He may be worth avoiding due to the injuries and the fact that he is already 39 years old.

    Defensive Trade Targets:

    Kevin Shattenkirk, STL

    Hampus Lindholm or Sami Vatanen, ANA

    Jacob Trouba, WPG

    Jonas Brodin or Matt Dumba, MIN

    Kevin Shattenkirk is the sweetest name of the group. He played college hockey at BU and knows the area. He wouldn’t have to worry about Alex Pietrangelo or Colton Parayko sneaking up and taking minutes from him. Additionally, with Shattenkirk, you get immediate number one defenseman who would be an impact player. Shattenkirk is just entering his prime too, at the age of 27.

    Hampus Lindholm is an intriguing RFA option. He could take the first-pairing minutes from Chara on the left side and be dominant; he is a great player with a lot of good tools. The same goes for Sami Vatanen, with the exception of his handedness as he is a righty. Both are very skilled defensemen who can move the puck and create offense off of breakouts with ease.

    Trouba is similar to Vatanen. Both are RFA’s who are good, young puck moving defensemen. He may not worth as much money as the others but he would still be an upgrade and possible long-term asset, at just 22 years old.

    Brodin and Dumba could also work well, and both are more known for their defense than the other candidates mentioned. Once again, they are both young and would step in and make an impact.

    A deal for Shattenkirk could look like this:

    TO BOS:

    Kevin Shattenkirk

    Brian Elliott/Jake Allen

    2017 conditional 3rd-round pick (2nd depending how the Bruins do by season’s end)

    TO STL:

    Tuukka Rask

    Jimmy Hayes

    Colin Miller

    2016 1st-round pick (SJS, if before or during draft) or 2017 1st-round pick

    Note: It’s unlikely St. Louis gives up Allen, but we can dream.

    Next: Is It Time To Trade David Krejci?

    I’m sure not alone when I say I want to watch hockey in May and June next year. There will need to be some big, likely surprising and maybe drastic changes to get there. We don’t want another 39 year drought. We want the cup.