Boston Bruins Have Options After Missing Out On Jimmy Vesey

Mar 15, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien watches the game against the San Jose Sharks in the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports.
Mar 15, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien watches the game against the San Jose Sharks in the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports. /

Boston Bruins Should Divert Attention To Other Free Agent Options After Losing The Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes

Last week the Boston Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes as the Boston area native decided to take his talents to the big apple and play for the New York Rangers. With the three spots open in the 50 contract max roster, the Bruins have some wiggle room to acquire some more free agent talent that they desperately need.

The Boston Bruins projected cap space for this upcoming season is about $6.7 million. That means they have the money to spend on either two middle of the road players or one big fish. The problem is that this late in the off-season, all of the big free agents are gone from the pool. The Bruins will have slim pickings to fill their cap space.

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Of course, the team could enter the season with millions in their cap space and potentially trade for a higher salary player and be able to take on their contract. With three open contract slots, the Bruins are likely to sign a few more players before the team comes together for camp. Surprisingly enough, there are several solid free agent options the Boston Bruins could still go after. Even better, they can improve the defense now rather than later with a few of the free agents left on the market.

Boston Bruins Should Be Thinking Defense Heavy Right Now

With defense on my mind the Bruins should go and kick the tires on 22-year-old RFA defenseman Jacob Trouba who remains a free agent. Trouba still hasn’t signed with the Winnipeg Jets with both sides being far apart on money and on the role he would serve with the team. The Jets have already locked up defenders Tyler Myers and Dustin Byfuglien who are ahead of Trouba on the depth chart.

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The Bruins were reportedly planning to present Trouba with an offer sheet when free agency started. The high cost of the offer sheet caused them to back off, however. The best case scenario here for the Bruins is if the Jets decide to trade the rights of Trouba. If the Bruins were to sign him to an offer sheet it would have already happened by now, Trouba is by far the best bet to improve the defense though with the free agent defense market being low at the moment.

The other route the Boston Bruins could take in free agency for a defenseman is Kris Russell who turned down a long term deal with the Maple Leafs and is now sitting out there with only low money short term offers coming in. The issue with Russell is he is a fairly short left-shot defenseman, which the Bruins already have in both Torey Krug and John-Michael Liles. The upside with Russel though over Liles and Krug is that he is a top-4 defenseman that has averaged more than 22:58 in ice time over the last four seasons. This kind of time on ice is something the Bruins could definitely use more of to take some of the pressure off of team captain Zdeno Chara.

Trouba is the best long term defensive upgrade for the Bruins that is currently on the free agent market, the chances of him coming to Boston though are slim to none. I doubt the Bruins will trade for his rights or sign him to an offer sheet at this point.

Russell  is the realistic option for the B’s to acquire as he is a UFA, but he would only come to Boston on a short-term deal that he has been unwilling to sign with most teams in free agency so why would he want to come to Boston on a one-year deal. I bet Russell signs a one-year deal with a team he thinks has a shot winning a cup or a team with the capability of a deep playoff run, both of which the Bruins are not in the category of in my opinion.

Boston Bruins Still Have Options To Improve Forward Group Through Free Agency

Just because the Bruins missed out on Jimmy Vesey doesn’t mean they couldn’t use more offensive help. The team lost Loui Eriksson, Lee Stempniak, Brett Connolly, and Chris Kelly, granted some of those players barley contributed anything to the team last season but still the loss of Eriksson alone is big.

The only addition the team made on offense this off-season was the signing of free agent centerman David Backes, which doesn’t really fill the wing role and the 30 goals that Eriksson left with. The team also signed Riley Nash, but chances are he won’t really play a real factor into the outcome of this upcoming season.

The Bruins still have a chance to upgrade their offense through free agency with Jiri Hudler still on the market. Hudler who is now 32 years old had a down season last year with split time in both Florida and in Calgary, but his down year still meant he had 46 points. If he can remain healthy he is a player that could easily be penciled in for 15-20 goals in a season. If Vesey was indeed slotted into the top 6 Hudler could easily fill that spot for next season with his price tag likely coming in pretty cheap considering he is still available.

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I think the Bruins will likely look at in-club candidates to fill the top-six role, players such as Frank Vatrano and Danton Heinen will probably get the first look during training camp. With money left to burn and contract spots open the Bruins have options to play with, but the question they have to ask themselves is are they building for this year or are they building for the future. If I was in their shoes I would be thinking long term with stop gap signings to continue to field a competitive squad till the prospects and younger players develop.