Boston Bruins: Outlook After Day 1 Of Free Agency

May 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center David Backes (42) skates with the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the third period in game one of the Western Conference Final of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. The St. Louis Blues defeat the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
May 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues center David Backes (42) skates with the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the third period in game one of the Western Conference Final of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. The St. Louis Blues defeat the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Bruins: Outlook After Day 1 Of Free Agency, More

The Bruins made some noise on Friday as the NHL free agency frenzy begun. Some teams, like the Anaheim Ducks who didn’t sign a single player, didn’t do much. Then you have teams like the Florida Panthers who signed 2014 first-overall pick, Aaron Ekblad, to an eight-year, $60 million contract extension and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who signed hulking blue liner, Victor Hedman to an eight-year, $63 million contract extension.

The NHL as a whole broke a record with $616.2 million committed in salaries in day 1, more than doubling last year’s total. It was a very interesting and action-packed day 1 of free agency and the Bruins filled a lot of holes.

Cap Space: $8,531,667

Who The Bruins Signed

David Backes, C/RW, STL: 5 years/$30 million, $6 million AAV

Anton Khudobin, G, ANA: 2 years/$2.4 million, $1.2 million AAV

Riley Nash, C/RW, CAR: 2 years/$1.8 million, $900k AAV

John-Michael Liles, D, BOS: 1 year/$2 million

Tommy Cross, D, BOS: 1 year/$600k

Tyler Randell, C/RW, BOS: 1 year/$600k

Tim Schaller, C, BUF: 1 year/$600k

More from Bruins News

Let’s start with the biggest Bruins signing of the day, former St. Louis Blues captain David Backes. At first sight, you see an over-payment, and by popular opinion it is. But David Backes is just what the Bruins need. They have lacked that gritty, bone-rattling player in their lineup for quite some time. Not to mention all that he can do on top of his veteran presence and leadership skills is an awesome combination to have. Backes can still produce too, tallying 45+ points in each of his last three seasons and 21 goals and 45 points this past season.

He mentioned after he signed how he is looking forward to playing with guys like Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, with Backes prioritized on taking a third line center role, likely moving Ryan Spooner to the wing.

His age is not a concern to him: “I’m 32; I’m not 52,” Backes said. “I think there’s plenty of legs and plenty of physicality and energy left in me. The terms that I’ve come to, people may have questions, but for me, I expect to still be at the top of my game for the last year and still be a contributing member for the Boston Bruins.” I would have rather seen something like 2 years/$10 million, $5 million AAV, but nonetheless, the Bruins made the right move in bringing in Backes.

I love the Anton Khudobin move. A backup goalie wasn’t necessarily a screaming need of the Bruins headed into free agency, but bringing in a former Bruins goalie was a smart move. The question is, what does this mean for Malcolm Subban?

The former Bruins first-round pick and top goalie prospect is now in a contract year and only has one game of NHL experience. You can’t just give him a one game sample size, he has first round potential. Either they sign him after the 2016-2017 season, trade him, or keep him as AHL goaltending insurance, we’ll have to see.

Maybe he is traded to Nashville to join his brother, P.K., who was just recently acquired by Nashville for Shea Weber in the blockbuster of the summer. Nashville just lost backup goalie, Carter Hutton, to the St. Louis Blues via free agency, so it’s a possibility. He would have to battle for the backup role with Marek Mazanec.

Live Feed

2 trades the Boston Bruins must make to secure the Stanley Cup
2 trades the Boston Bruins must make to secure the Stanley Cup /

Puck Prose

  • Former NY Islanders earn spots on 'Historic 100' list of Boston Bruins players Eyes On Isles
  • The Boston Bruins announced an incredible All-Centennial teamPuck Prose
  • Former NY Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara finds a new way to push himselfEyes On Isles
  • The Boston Bruins are bringing back another old friendPuck Prose
  • The new faces on the Bruins heading into the 2023-24 seasonPuck Prose
  • The Riley Nash signing is a solid, likely fourth-line addition at good money. Nash, 27, is a former first-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers, who put up 9 goals and 22 points in 64 games as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes last season. He plays both center and wing, which is good to have anywhere in your lineup. For $900k per season, this is a great signing.

    It would have been frustrating seeing the B’s let go of John-Michael Liles after we didn’t get to see much of him and black and gold and the fact that we gave up Anthony Camara, a 2016 third-round pick and a 2017 5th-round pick. That’s a decent amount for a player who could have been a rental. For the money Boston gave him, I like the signing of Liles as a bottom-pairing defenseman. He wasn’t spectacular in his short time as a Bruin last year, but he served well in the role he played and did better than some may have thought.

    Some lower profile signings, all for the same term and money, were bringing back former Boston College defenseman, Tommy Cross, Providence forward Tyler Randell, and bringing in now former Buffalo Sabre, Tim Schaller at $600k each. These are all solid depth signings.

    I really like Tyler Randell in particular because he plays a prototypical Bruins fourth-line game and can score while doing it – he had 6 goals on the fourth line last year. You’ve got to have depth to survive in the NHL. Tommy Cross, 26, tallied 1 assist in 3 games with the Bruins last season and 3 goals and 23 points in 64 games with the Providence Bruins last season. Tim Schaller had a goal and 3 points in 17 games with the Sabres last year and 12 goals and 26 points in 37 games with the Sabres AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, last season.

    Who The Bruins Let Go

    Loui Eriksson, LW, VAN: 6 years/$36 million, $6 million AAV

    Lee Stempniak, RW, CAR: 2 years/$5 million, $2.5 million AAV

    Brett Connolly, RW, WSH: 1 year/$850k

    Jonas Gustavsson, G, EDM: 1 year/$800k

    Zach Trotman, D, LAK: 1 year/$650k

    The departure of Loui Eriksson has been suspected by Bruins fans ever since he wasn’t traded at the 2016 trade deadline. He went on to get a big pay day from the Vancouver Canucks, so he can go play with his Swedish buddies the Sedin twins. His goal scoring is a big loss, but it can be replaced. He also dealt with some concussion problems early in his Bruins career. Bruins fans shouldn’t lose too much sleep over losing Loui; he wanted more than Boston was  willing to give him. The biggest piece of the Tyler Seguin blockbuster, besides Seguin himself, is now officially gone.

    Lee Stempniak is a disappointing loss, but not a devastating one. He played well with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in his short time as a Bruin and wouldn’t have cost a whole lot to re-sign. The main disappointing thing about losing Stempniak is that we now know that we gave up a 2017 second-round pick and a 2016 fourth-round pick for a rental. That’s not a shallow price for a rental player. Stempniak now joins his 10th NHL team in what will be his 12th NHL season.

    Brett Connolly is not a good player, but we gave up 2015 and 2016 second-round picks for him, so it stings a little to see him leave after getting pretty much nothing from him. Jonas Gustavsson was a solid backup, but was easily replaceable, no shame there. Zach Trotman is not good either, simple enough.

    Who is Still Unsigned

    Colin Miller, D, RFA

    Joe Morrow, D, RFA

    Chris Kelly, C/LW, UFA

    The Bruins need to sign Colin Miller. He has solid potential and you got him in a trade involving a guy who just got a pretty big pay day from the Edmonton Oilers, Milan Lucic. Their right side of the blue line isn’t the strongest either. I could see them letting Joe Morrow go, although he won’t cost much to re-sign. This is because of the emergence of prospects on the left side like Rob O’Gara, Matt Grzelcyk and Jeremy Lauzon. It wouldn’t be a bad move to let Joe Morrow go, and it would make sense with a surplus eager young talent, but Morrow is still young as well at just 23 years old. Chris Kelly is aging and easily replaceable, let him walk.

    Free Agent Targets

    Kris Russell, D, UFA, DAL

    Marek Zidlicky, D, UFA, NYI

    Michael Stone, D, UFA, ARZ

    Kris Versteeg, RW, UFA, LAK

    Jiri Hudler, RW, UFA, FLA

    Jason Demers would be on this list if he wasn’t recently snatched up by the Florida Panthers. If you’re the Bruins, you could go with his Dallas teammate in Kris Russell. Although his asking price is reported to be in the neighborhood of 5-6 years/$30 million, if you could get him to tone that down, he could be a decent fit.

    Marek Zidlicky can still perform at 39 years old and wouldn’t cost much at all to sign. The one caveat is the fact that he has had some bad injury problems over the years, but he produces when he is healthy. If all else fails, Zidlicky could be a cheap and solid option for the Bruins on a one-year deal.

    Michael Stone, 26, broke out this year in Arizona. He put up 6 goals and 36 points in 75 games, doubling his point, goal and assist totals from the 2014-2015 season in 6 less games. Stone is right-handed defenseman on the rise who won’t break the bank. The Coyotes are thin on defense, but they haven’t signed him yet. I’d be all for the Bruins signing Stone.

    Kris Versteeg is a surprising name to see on the free agent market after day 1. He has 2 Stanley cup rings and could be just what a team who struggles in the playoffs, or struggles to get into the playoffs needs. His decent production and veteran presence would be nice for the Bruins on a one-year deal.

    I would absolutely love to see the Bruins sign Jiri Hudler. He had 16 goals and 46 points in 72 games with the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers this past season. Not to mention he broke out along with Johnny Gaudreau’s resurgence during the 2014-2015 season for 31 goals and 76 points in 75 games. Could he do the same with a combination of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Ryan Spooner, and David Backes, among others? They need to add some scoring in Loui Eriksson’s absence in one way or another.

    Trade Targets

    Kevin Shattenkirk, D, STL

    Tyson Barrie, D, RFA, COL

    Cam Fowler, D, ANA

    Matt Dumba, D, RFA, MIN

    Jonas Brodin, D, MIN

    Jacob Trouba, D, RFA, WPG

    Doug Armstrong recently said that he was okay with keeping Shattenkirk after failing to trade him. So it sounds like Shattenkirk is becoming a less and less likely trade option, but it is still possible. For all of the people who are on the “trade David Krejci for Kevin Shattenkirk” bandwagon, it’s not as easy as it sounds. David Backes said after signing with the Bruins that he is looking forward to playing with Krejci, and the Czech center just had offseason surgery which may scare away Doug Armstrong. I was once on the trade Krejci for Shattenkirk bandwagon too, but I just don’t see it happening anymore.

    More from Causeway Crowd

    It sounds like Tyson Barrie‘s discussions with the Avalanche aren’t going to well, which arguably increases the likelihood of him being traded. Acquiring Barrie, 24, would not be cheap, but it would fill the biggest Bruins need in a talented puck-moving defenseman. They would of course have to sign him after trading for him too, which wouldn’t be cheap either.

    Cam Fowler has been rumored to be on the available on the trade market for a little while now. Fowler would fit the bill for what the Bruins need and is a former first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks. Like all of the possible defensive trade candidates for the B’s, Fowler would cost a good amount.

    What is going to happen with Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin? It seems like these guys have been in rumors forever. Both would be solid additions to the Bruins back end and they still have a lot left to offer. The difference is their handedness and contract situations. Dumba is right-handed and an RFA while Brodin is left-handed and is under contract until the 2021-2022 season at an AAV of $4,16 million

    Jacob Trouba, 22, is another talented puck-moving defenseman the Bruins could target, not by a crazy offer sheet though. The trend of expensive-to-acquire defensemen continues with Trouba, but it might be well worth it, as you get first round upside along with youth.

    Projected Lines









    Chara-K. Miller


    O’Gara/C. Miller




    Next: What Does Backes Deal Mean For The Bruins

    The Bruins have filled some holes, but there is still work that can be done. Is the team they have right now going to make the playoffs? Probably not, at least without some more help on defense.