The NHL offseason is here and for the next several weeks, teams will be scrambling to add some reinforcements ahead of an uncertain 2020-21 season that’s tentatively slated to begin on December 1.
While Boston has its own assortment of internal free agents it needs to address, there is a ton of talent available on the open market this offseason.
Boston has had some contracts come off the books this offseason, with deals for Kevan Miller and Matt Beleskey both expiring (unless Miller is back).
With positional needs at right wing and defense, Boston could make a few smart, low-money signings that would be doable even with Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk back on the roster.
Here’s who could fit in with the Bruins positional and financial needs.
Valeri Nicushkin [UFA]
Last Team: Colorado
2019-20 Cap Hit: $850,000
Nicushkin is coming off a 27-point season with Colorado after four years of varying success in Dallas. The 6’ 4”, 210-pound right wing finished eighth in Selke Award voting and regained his offensive form over the past season.
With 84 hits, one shy of a career high, and only 14 penalty minutes, Nicushkin adds some much needed size and physicality up front and would serve as a replacement for Joakim Nordstrom.
His new deal would likely be in the area of $1 million, a bargain for a 25-year-old who appears to have found his game again.
Tyler Ennis [UFA]
Last Team: Edmonton
2019-20 Cap Hit: $1,216,667
A known Bruins killer, Ennis had success in Buffalo before becoming somewhat of a journeyman over the past few seasons after a dip in production.
Ennis is coming off a 37-point season, his most since 2014-15, and although his 5’ 9” stature may not seem imposing, Bruins fans know he is still a physical presence – his 96 hits last year were a career high.
He also had 25 points on the power play last year between Ottawa and Edmonton.
The 30-year-old could be available for around $1.25 million as a potential third-line forward and special teams spark.
Erik Gustafsson [UFA]
Last Team: Calgary
2019-20 Cap Hit: $1,200,000
The sweepstakes for big-name defensemen like Krug, Alex Pietrangelo, and Kevin Shattenkirk this offseason will dominate the headlines among free agent blue-liners.
But Erik Gustafsson is one signing that may fly under the radar. The left-shooting defenseman hasn’t played much on the power play, though you wouldn’t know it given his point production. Gustafsson had 26 points in the recent pandemic-shortened season and has put up a 60-point season already in his short career.
Special teams isn’t a big part of his game, though he can kill penalties, and he was a plus-11 in his first season when Chicago was still a contender.
He could command somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million but may sign for a similar fee as last season.
Michael Del Zotto
Last Team: Anaheim
2019-20 Cap Hit: $750,000
The 30-year-old has played for six teams in his decade-long NHL career, and adds some much-needed experience to a defense that could lose as many as three players from a year ago.
Boston is young along the blue line and adding a well-traveled veteran like Del Zotto adds depth. along with experience. on the unit.
He would likely be on the bottom pair, if not the first man out, but he did see an uptick in time on ice overall last season and was a plus-5 in 49 games with Anaheim.
If Boston wants him, he could be available for cheap, likely around the same amount as he signed for last season.