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NHL Free Agency: Do any big targets make sense?

Big names, big money...or stay put?

NHL: New York Islanders at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL’s silly season is just a couple days away.

It’s that fun time of year where teams throw ludicrous amounts of money at players who probably don’t deserve it, all in an attempt to find that missing piece for next season.

Yes, that time of year where you get to say things like “6.5 million for THAT GUY?!?!” and then laugh...unless it’s your team making the move, then you cry.

The Bruins made a pretty big splash last year, signing David Backes to his big deal.

However, they also made a number of “lesser” signings, adding Anton Khudobin, John-Michael Liles, Riley Nash and Tim Schaller.

The latter two turned out to be great signings, and they were the far-less heralded of the bunch.

Expect more of the same this July 1: while the Bruins have some wiggle room, they shouldn’t be going out offering $8 million to anyone. In all likelihood, they’ll be looking to fill a small need on the cheap.

From Cap Friendly, here are the 15 biggest-name (i.e. highest-paid) free agents of the upcoming class:

1. Joe Thornton - Center

Last year’s cap hit: $6.75 million

The biggest fish is Jumbo Joe himself. Thornton may be moving on from San Jose after more than a decade, and reports indicate he may only be moving as far as Los Angeles.

While the Bruins’ power play could benefit from bringing an elite playmaker like Thornton to town, they don’t really have the money to get him back, nor would it make much sense for him to join a team that doesn’t appear to be close to a serious Cup run.

2. Patrick Marleau - Wing/Center

Last year’s cap hit: $6.67 million

Another Shark?! Marleau is a great scorer and a great player. However, he’d come with the same cash requirements as Thornton, and likely wouldn’t fill the same niche role that Thornton could fill with the Bruins.

If the Bruins were to make a splash by signing a Shark, it’d be Thornton over Marleau.

3. Ryan Miller - Goalie


4. Patrick Sharp - Wing/Center

Last year’s cap hit: $5.9 million

Ah, we’ve finally arrived at one that you could make an argument for. Sharp is a scoring left wing who could probably fit in well alongside David Krejci. He’s experienced a wealth of postseason success and seems to be a popular guy in the locker room.

But...he appears to be slowing down in terms of production. He scored 28 goals in a season and a half in Dallas. He might take a pay cut to play for a contender (e.g. going back to Chicago), but he doesn’t make a ton of sense for this Bruins team.

5. Andrei Markov - Defense

Last year’s cap hit: $5.75 million

I can’t believe Andrei Markov made that much money last year.


6. Alexander Radulov - Wing

Last year’s cap hit: $5.75 million

Nah. He liked it in Montreal and will probably end up going back there. Getting 18 goals from a right wing (other than Pastrnak) would be a boon for the Bruins, but not at Radulov’s price tag.

7. Dan Girardi - Defense

Last year’s cap hit: $5.5 million

There are plenty of people who follow the Bruins who would love to see them add Girardi. After all, he’s one of those “gritty” guys who gets a lot of love from the traditional hockey media because he’s tough, blocks shots, etc.

However, the Rangers are paying Girardi to NOT play for him anymore. His play has declined over the past few years. He’d probably take less than he made last year, but I’m guessing he’d want a multi-year deal at this point.

The Bruins shouldn’t be the ones to give it to him.

8. Jarome Iginla - Wing

Last year’s cap hit: $5.3 million

A reunion?! There was that whole thing about Iginla buying a house around here...

Truth be told, Iginla was great in his one year here. However, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense (from his perspective) to sign with the Bruins. His career is just about over, and he’d be better served signing a deal like the one Mark Recchi signed with the Bruins: a lower-money deal on a team ready to win now.

It’d be great to see him back, but it’s hard to see a scenario in which it’d make sense.

9. Dennis Wideman - Defense

Last year’s cap hit: $5.25 million

BIG MONEY WIDES! Wideman got a bad rap while he was here, but he’s not the solution at this point. He’s a right shot, for one, and would probably cost too much.

Maybe if he was willing to play a season for $3 million or so it might be worth it, but probably not.

10. Mark Streit - Defense

Last year’s cap hit: $5.25 million

Streit is a left-shot defenseman, so that’s a plus. However, he’s 39 years old, and will turn 40 before the season’s half over.

He doesn’t have any reason to come to a team like the Bruins. He won his Cup earlier this month. A guy like this is probably better off riding into the sunset.

11. Francois Beauchemin - Defense

Last year’s cap hit: $4.5 million

Another veteran left-shot defenseman who could probably be added on the cheap, but another guy who may be prepared to hang ‘em up.

Beauchemin is 37 and was bought out by the Colorado Avalanche. He’s a wily veteran who could probably help guys like Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy develop as a left-shot partner.

However, like Streit, you have to wonder how much left he has in the tank. If he doesn’t sign anywhere, he may be a guy that’s worth bringing in on a PTO.

12. Brooks Laich - Wing/Center

Last year’s cap hit: $4.5 million

Meh. Another third/fourth line tweener who adds more in intangibles than he does in production?


13. Mike Fisher - Center

Last year’s cap hit: $4.4 million

You have to believe Fisher wants to re-up with Nashville after their run, even if it’s on the cheap.

He doesn’t have a ton left in the tank, but is a decent two-way player. Again, can’t see why he’d want to come to Boston, nor can I see why the Bruins would want him.

14. Drew Stafford - Wing

Last year’s cap hit: $4.35 million

Here’s an interesting case. I think Stafford was pretty good in the half-season he was here. He seemed to do OK on both wings, and produced at a decent rate.

The Bruins could bring him back, albeit at a lower price; he’d probably half to take half the money to come back here.

Also, he’d probably end up taking a spot from young guy like Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Jake DeBrusk, Zach Senyshyn, etc.

It’s probably best to say “thanks for the half-season” and go your separate ways.

15. Dmitry Kulikov - Defense

Last year’s cap hit: $4.33 million

The Bruins have been rumored to be interested in Kulikov for a few years now, be it through a trade of free agent signing. He’s only 26 and shoots left; however, he had a pretty bad season last year and never really became the player Buffalo hoped he’d be.

In spite of his struggles at times in Buffalo, he’s still a mid-20’s left-shot defenseman; he’s going to draw interest regardless.

His advanced stats compare favorably with a second-pair defenseman, but is he worth the money?