The Boston Bruins have a lot of work to do this off-season. Some of their pending unrestricted free agents include Tuukka Rask, Taylor Hall, and David Krejci. However, even this is just the tip of the iceberg. If the team wants to win a Stanley Cup with their aging core, they have to be aggressive via free agency.
The salary cap will of course play a role in who they can sign, but they need to obtain upgrades of any kind. The injuries to Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller this postseason showed just how little depth they have on defense. The left side was weaker on the backend, though, as the kids were not steady enough to replace the losses of both Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara.
Want your voice heard? Join the Causeway Crowd team!Write for us!
An intriguing player who is currently set to hit free agency is Jamie Oleksiak. The former first-round pick took some time to develop, but he is now a very reliable defensive defenseman. The Bruins surely need that, but what enhances his overall value is the fact that he is also 6’7″ and 255 LBS. Thus, he is a very imposing figure who happens to enjoy playing a physical game.
If the Dallas Stars are unable to reach a new deal with him, he should be on the Bruins’ radar. This postseason, in both series, they were outmuscled extremely often. Even though they were able to get by the Washington Capitals, it of course did not occur with the Islanders. A guy like Oleksiak would make the Bruins far more intimidating to play against, and they need that.
Where could Oleksiak fit in the lin Bruins lineup?
Here’s the beautiful thing about a versatile defenseman like Oleksiak; he can play anywhere in the top-six. However, if the team elects to re-sign Mike Reilly, he could end up being the perfect bottom pairing defenseman. He would be a significant upgrade over what they have now in that spot.
They do have a fair share of left-handed defensemen on their depth chart. The Expansion Draft could lead to Jeremy Lauzon or even Jakub Zboril being selected. However, if they both are still here after that, though, Oleksiak would still be a smarter option. He possesses a great deal of poise, as evidenced by his solid playoff run last postseason.
Another appealing element of Oleksiak’s game is that he actually can provide decent offense with his defense-first style. In 56 games this season, he managed to score six goals, while also producing 14 points in total. That is not too shabby, to say the least.
He also is arguably one of the most underrated UFAs on the market this year, too. At the right price, he could be a complete and utter steal, much like the Craig Smith signing last off-season. Adding a player who is very dependable and full of grit is something the Bruins desperately need. They cannot be pushed around again next year.