With mere hours to go until Free Agency Frenzy begins, the rumors are beginning to fly thick and fast around the NHL. With the Bruins expected to key players in the free agent market, they're the subject of more than most.
The latest has Florida's Brian Campbell being aggressively pursued as a target by Don Sweeney, which is something of a surprise. It's also a surprise to see the Bruins linked with Bobby Farnham from New Jersey, who would seem to be the type of gritty grinding winger the B's already have plenty of...although perhaps slightly less of a surprise when you take a look at who's doing the linking:
Hearing #Bruins now pushing hard for for Brian Campbell. Also will try to sign North Andover, MA native F Bobby Farnham. #NHLFreeagency— Jimmy Murphy (@MurphysLaw74) July 1, 2016
Yes, it's Jimmy Murphy, he of the phantom Jacob Trouba offer sheet amongst many other failed rumors.
Murphy must seemingly have a source more connected to the inside of the Bruins front office or any FA negotiations than most... after all, some pretty big names seem to think that Campbell isn't even entertaining thoughts of coming to Beantown:
I believe the Dallas Stars want Brian Campbell. I believe the Stars were his 2nd choice. I also believe he rejoins the Hawks tomorrow.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 1, 2016
Note the...erm...conspicuous absence of any mention of the Bruins in that Dreger tweet, or indeed from any other proven and well-connected NHL insider.
There's no denying that Campbell has the potential to be a good pickup for the Bruins - as an experienced veteran with proven ability at both ends of the ice he's the kind of player that the shaky B's defence could well do with to steady the ship in the short term. His agent has said he's looking only for a big-money, one year deal and the B's have the cap space to accomodate that - more so now with the Dennis Seidenberg buyout, and with no other big-money deal to be made, there's room here. It's arguably the only thing that makes the rumor even slighty credible, too.
There's no denying that he'd be a popular signing with some of the Chowder crew as well. In his "My Kingdom For a Defenseman" series my fellow Chowder writer John has sung the praises of the Strathroy, ONT native. And when I say sung the praises...I mean with full gospel-choir and orchestra backing, probably in a cathedral:
Brian Campbell is the best free agent defenseman available this off season. That's not really debatable. No one is in the same league as this guy. Brian Campbell is a Norris level defenseman that's consistently robbed when it comes to voting season because he doesn't score. Brian Campbell is better than Drew Doughty. He's better than Kris Letang. He's sure as hell better than Kevan Shattenkirk or Keith Yandle. For whatever team gets him, Brian Campbell will be a god damn game changer.
So yeah. That's what our resident defensive FA analyst things of Brian Campbell.
Of course, the fact that Campbell is among the best hitters in the game does him no harm, either. Ask RJ Umberger what it's like to face him, for example.
As to whether the Bruins will get him though...well, I wouldn't be looking for alternate numbers were I the current holder of the B's #51 jersey (Ryan Spooner) just yet.
Firstly, there's the question of whether or not the B's are really going to look short-term on a 37-year old when they already have Zdeno Chara in the twilight of his career (however good Chara is - it's not exactly long term thinking to load up next to him with another expensive vet unless you're going all out Cup chase).
Secondly, there's the fact that Jimmy Murphy is the originator of the rumor, which as far as the NHL goes is about as productive at sourcing accurate gossip as shouting into a megaphone and listening what player names come back on the echo. You'd probably have a better chance on finding accurate NHL news sacrificing a chicken and reading the entrails for omens than a Jimmy Murphy tweet...but there we are.
Thirdly, there's the very important fact that most of the money has him going to Dallas or back to Chicago.
File this one in the "it'd be nice, but it's the longest of shots" file.