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Bruins Free Agency: Forwards to Target

Even in a weak UFA class, there are some forwards who are available either as signings or trades

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NHL: Boston Bruins at Seattle Kraken Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

This...this is where things get interesting.

Cam Neely and Don Sweeney are operating this offseason under the impression that Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci will not be returning to the Boston Bruins. They’re always free to come back, and the general thought process is that Bergeron will return,

Which means that any part of this that I would’ve written about which of the three positions of Forward the Bruins could trade for all got blown out of the water by the following:

  • Get a Center: Immediately. Even if you can move Pavel Zacha to the position, you still need another. Charlie Coyle is a complete non-starter beyond his current position.
  • Get a Left Wing: Namely one who can keep Charlie Coyle looking respectable, since that responsibility now falls almost entirely on Trent Frederic and that really isn’t much of a third line to start with. Assuming you sign Frederic, of course.

The Name-Brand UFA option: Ryan O’Reilly - UFA - Center

The Center class of UFAs is weak this year, and the only player realistically that works for the Bruins in that list is eternal “man he’d be a great Bruin” Ryan O’Reilly, who has been confirmed to not be returning to Leafs.

O’Reilly has been a perennial 2-way stalwart for the Blues and most recently the Maple Leafs, and plays the kind of hockey that will make fans out Your Uncle™s from Caribou to New Canaan; tough, fast, capable of winning faceoffs, miserable to play against, all that good stuff.

The issue is that ROR is...basically the only UFA who is an unambiguous positive with the sole marks against that “he is one of the only really good UFAs” available, and that the first thing will drive into his cost.

The Misunderstood Stopgap Option - Tomas Tatar - Winger

I don’t get Tomas Tatar’s career path.

He’s a possession god, has been so for nearing on ten years now, had a solid season with the Devils...and now he’s out on his ass again. Again! What are people not seeing in this guy!? He’s perfect for a second or third line that needs a little help staying afloat (and remember, The Bruins Are Going To Need That), gets a respectable amount of points, works hard most shifts, and he just...never gets to find a place to call home.

I guess the real issue is that for how well he plays, Tatar has never been historically able to really “break through” and get the kind of points his play deserves, which...if he were to be stapled to Charlie Coyle, purely as an example, this wouldn’t be as much of an issue! Think of how much veteran experience he could give Trent Frederic and all the little youngboys they promote this year!

The Run it Back Option - Tyler Bertuzzi - Winger

Most people have already decided that Taylor Hall’s trade was in order to pay for Bert.

He certainly made a ton of fans over the course of the end of the regular season and well into the playoffs, and this seems like the most realistic thing to happen this year, as it’s Boston and-ARE YOU KIDDING ME, FLORIDA!? HAVEN’T YOU TAKEN ENOUGH!?

Anyway, yeah. While he’s maybe not a total patch for what Hall brought, you should probably prioritize re-signing him if he’s listening to you first. Your power play will thank you.

The one you probably shouldn’t do but we are putting it here for completion’s sake - Milan Lucic - Winger

Do Not Sign Milan Lucic.

The Milan Lucic you fell in love with is gone and will likely stay gone until becomes genial hockey media figure Milan Lucic. The Milan Lucic of today is a parody of the Milan Lucic you once knew. The stereotype of Milan Lucic you heard from Habs fans years ago made manifest. He is 35 years old and has so many hard miles on him it’s simply impossible to say yes, let’s run this back unless he joins the organization in the front office.

Do Not Sign Milan Lucic.

With the UFA targets out of the way, let’s talk about trade options for a minute. Simply put, this UFA class is kind of ass across the board, so the trade market will have to be a place where the Bruins find their value, because they’re not gonna find it for UFA prices. Here are a number of names I selected by focusing down on the need for center, and why I think they’d make good Bruins.

A surprisingly available option: Elias Lindholm - Calgary - Center

A lot of people really like Elias Lindholm. I can understand why! But he was never going to be available to Boston. I mean come on, what could’ve happened in the last 12 months that suddenly means he could be-oh. Oh man. Yeah I’d want out too.

Let’s run this through then since he is one of the many players on the Flames who is shockingly available!

Hot off the heels of having to put themselves through 82 games of Darryl Sutter bringing the feelings of being told your childhood dog just died under the wheels of a GMC Sierra to the locker room, the Calgary Flames are in a really, really bad spot. They didn’t make the playoffs, pretty much everybody wants out, and that PLD contract might make him slightly too expensive for the Flames’ blood.

What I really don’t get or that he’s a good 200-foot player because that has just...never been true? I do not understand why he’s gotten attention for his defense, because it’s mostly been his offense and especially his power play acumen that’s made him so useful to Calgary. Is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not. I just don’t get where the idea of him that kind of guy came from.

Really if anyone’s like that on the Flames it’s Mikael Backlund, but he’s older than Lindholm and I dunno if he’d ever leave at this point, even with all that gone through.

An Unusual option: Barrett Hayton - Arizona

You likely have never thought of this player before because he is a Coyote, and therefor beneath the notice of most hockey fans beyond whining about Quebec City. However, don’t be so concerned; believe it or not, the Arizona Coyotes have...something resembling half-decent talent, in spite of their recent (or if you’re being cynical; eternal) woes. One such player is Barrett Hayton, a guy most people kind of scratched their heads at when they got him who has sort of just been a solid, useful player for the Coyotes, and critically one of the very few who has been able to rise above the...challenges faced before him to be a rather interesting player.

The tricky part of course, is “getting him out of AZ” at this point, because the kind of things the Bruins have that the Yotes want probably don’t want to be there without a guarantee...and the Bruins don’t have the other thing the Arizona Coyotes want, which is draft picks.

It would be unconventional...but this is what they’re forced to do right now; get creative and look for talent in places they otherwise wouldn’t find it.

The “I am a gigantic hater and want him to play for Arizona” option : Mark Scheifele - Winnipeg - Center

I Do Not Want Mark Scheifele on the Boston Bruins. I do not care how good at hockey he is. That toxic moron should be kept as far away from TD Garden as humanly possible.

I simply want him to suffer somewhere else where he can’t be asked to have a leadership position and learn how to be normal.

Only then will I re-consider.

I’m not gonna lie. The Bruins have a rough offseason ahead; even if they do end up with Patrice Bergeron back for Year 100 and swing for the fences. There’s a tumble coming for this team regardless of how it handles this offseason.

The best we can hope for is that Don Sweeney and company manage to bolster this team in the strongest possible way.

We got a long summer to think about it.