NHL Insider links Boston Bruins & Toronto Maple Leafs to free agency defenseman

Elliotte Friedman thinks the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs could get into a bidding war for a free agent defenseman Monday.
Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven
Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven / Derek Cain/GettyImages

We are one day away from the official start of NHL free agency for the 2024 off-season. One team that is expected to be active is the Boston Bruins and GM Don Sweeney has a lot of cap space to use to improve his team for the 2024-25 season and beyond.

It's clear that the Black and Gold are going to lose most of their own free agents as early as Monday afternoon, including forward Jake DeBrusk and defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Derek Forbort. Of course, things can change and one of them or more could return, but it's clear that they all are going to hit free agency and likely end up somewhere else.

Boston has multiple needs in free agency with at least a top-six center needed as well as a goal-scoring wing for the top-six. On the back end on defense, a left-shot blueliner is a priority for depth with Hampus Lindholm and Mason Lohrei being the current top ones currently under contract. There are multiple options Sweeney is going to have to try and sign and NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman said on his recent 32 Thoughts podcast that Boston and division rival Toronto Maple Leafs could be bidding against each other for one.

Bruins and Maple Leafs reportedly interested in Nikita Zadorov

Nikita Zadorov, a 29-year-old defenseman that played with the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks this past season, is going to be one of the coveted left-shot defensemen and Friedman believes that Toronto is going to go after him hard, as well as the Bruins.

"I think they are going to have competition from Boston for Nikita Zadorov."

Elliotte Friedman

Zadorov is a defenseman who would be a perfect fit to wear the Black and Gold. A physical presence in the lineup for whichever team he plays for, Zadorov dished out 177 hits combined between the Flames and Canucks this past season, and the 6-foot-6 blueliner can move the puck effectively once he gets going through the neutral zone.

Where he ends up remains to be seen, but if there is one thing we have learned during Sweeney's tenure as GM, he's not going to overspend on someone, but signing him and keeping him away from the Maple Leafs would be big as Zadorov would be a big addition to the backend for Toronto. He would be a perfect second/third left-side option in Boston for Jim Montgomery.