For weeks now there have been rumors swirling around the Boston Bruins and what they could be doing this offseason after getting bounced in the playoffs by the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. With just over $15 million in cap space available there is a laundry list of things the B’s could do with free agency opening on Friday and the draft kicking off Tuesday night.
The Bruins entered the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft without a first-round pick and some thought they may trade back up into the first round, but General Manager Don Sweeney never did and left the Bruins as spectators throughout the first round. The Bruins gave up their first-round selection in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks earlier in the year to acquire Ondrej Kase in exchange for David Backes.
The Bruins first pick in this year’s draft was 58th overall. They have hit on some third rounders in recent years, players like Brad Marchand and Matt Grzelcyk have been great additions from that middle round. They went off the board at No. 58 and selected Mason Lohrei from the USHL who was ranked by NHL central scouting as the No. 123 prospect in the draft.
However, it’s not so much the draft that everyone had eyes on for the Bruins because they have some interesting moves to be made with unrestricted free agent Torey Krug and restricted free agent Jake Debrusk. The B’s reportedly offered Krug a contract of $6.5 million per year over six years according to TSN’s Frank Servalli. That would add up to about $39 million in total and it is a pretty hefty pay-day for the undersized defenseman, but he is looking for something bigger than that on the open market.
The 29-year-old has been one of the best offensive defenseman since he entered the league scoring 212 points in just 282 games. He is about the enter free agency on Friday and is going to be the second-most sought after defenseman behind Alex Pietrangelo who the Bruins became familiar with in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals with the St. Louis Blues.
So, with Krug seemingly leaving that opens the door for the Bruins to possibly make a move for a forward who can score and help the second line. They could also make a move for a more well-rounded defenseman like Oliver Ekman-Larsson. There have been plenty of rumors surrounding Ekman-Larsson and the Arizona Coyotes since the trade deadline earlier this year and this is a name that the Bruins have made calls on.
According to Ekman-Larsson’s agent Kevin Epp, unless a trade is reached by Friday, he would remain on the Coyotes due to his no movement clause in his contract. Epp had said earlier in the week that the only places he would accept a trade to would be Boston or the Vancouver Canucks, but with the draft coming and going it is looking less likely that the Bruins will make a deal for the 29-year-old.
The Arizona captain has seven years left on a deal worth $8.25 million per year, which is right around what Krug will receive on the market, but Ekman-Larsson’s deal will increase to $10.5 million in three years. The sixth overall pick in 2009 doesn’t run the powerplay quite like Krug would but the 6’2’’, 200-pound, top pairing defenseman would bring a more well-rounded game and has scored 93 goals over the past six seasons.
Assuming the Bruins don’t make a trade with the Coyotes, there’s a clear first step for the front office. First, the Bruins must re-sign Grzelcyk and Debrusk if they are going to let Krug walk. As of right now the Bruins best shot to bring somebody in looks to be by way of the buyout market.
One name that Bruins fans have drooled over since 2013 is Bobby Ryan. Ryan, 33, was just bought out by the Ottawa Senators with two years left on his contract. Ryan is coming off of career lows but that was in part due to his off-ice issues with alcohol. Ryan has since defeated those demons and claimed the Bill Masterton Trophy this year; the trophy awarded to the player who displays the most perseverance and dedication.
Ryan could bring a game with him that the Bruins have desperately missed, a hard-nosed style and a guy who isn’t afraid to shoot the puck. Ryan hasn’t had the best past couple of seasons, but one could also attribute that to the terrible team he’s played on. This is an option for the B’s as a low-risk high-reward type player who they don’t have to tie big money for years to come like they would with other big names like Taylor Hall or Mike Hoffman.