Boston Bruins & Toronto Maple Leafs could into bidding war for free agent center

Could the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs get into a bidding war this summer for center Chandler Stephenson in free agency?
Apr 27, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) battles for the puck with Dallas Stars center Wyatt Johnston (53) in the third period in game three of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) battles for the puck with Dallas Stars center Wyatt Johnston (53) in the third period in game three of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports / Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
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One major area of need for the Boston Bruins this offseason with a ton of cap space is up the middle. A top-six center is needed as they have not been able to add one after Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci retired last summer. In GM Don Sweeney’s defense, he had very little cap space to add anything and put a lot of pressure on Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle to handle those duties.

Prospect Matthew Poitras was a big surprise last season playing in the first nine games before Boston decided to keep him rather than send him back to Juniors. Unfortunately, he got hurt and needed season-ending shoulder surgery to end his rookie campaign. Morgan Geekie and Trent Frederic were able to step up and handle duties as well. However, in the bigger picture, a top-six center is needed and one target could be on the same radar as the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Bruins.

Toronto and Boston both linked to Vegas center Chandler Stephenson

David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reported that if Chandler Stephenson does not re-sign with the Vegas Golden Knights, both the Bruins and Maple Leafs and other teams would be interested in signing him.

Clearly, Elias Lindholm would be the top option for the Bruins this summer if he doesn’t sign with the Vancouver Canucks, but the market for him will be big. Sweeney has a lot of cap space this summer and even said a couple of weeks ago that he’s going to be aggressive this summer in adding to his roster.

If they can’t get Lindholm, Stephenson is a very good Plan B. He has been in the top six for former Boston coach Bruce Cassidy for the last two years with the Golden Knights and would be the top option next year for Jim Montgomery in Boston. As good as Coyle has been, he’s a lot better as the third-line center, even second if needed.

Toronto has gone through a coaching change and now has Craig Berube replacing Sheldon Keefe after being eliminated in the first round by the Bruins in seven games. GM Brad Treliving is going to be aggressive as well in building a roster and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bruins and Maple Leafs get into a bidding war for a free-agent center.

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