The Bruins went into the noontime opening of NHL free agency “exploring” their options at improving things on the left side of their defense, but the options are dwindling quickly as those available players sign with other teams.
The Bruins had expressed interest in free-agent veteran defenseman Trevor Daley over the past week, but the B’s were unwilling to go to the three-year term he ultimately agreed to with the Detroit Red Wings for a total of $9 million.
“We’d like to continue to explore or have one of our lefties step up, yes. The answer to that is yes, we have been exploring [the left-handed defensemen market]. I don’t know whether or not it’s going to come to fruition here in the next day and a half,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “But we also know that both [Rob] O’Gara and [Matt] Grzelcyk have played games. Tommy Cross has played [NHL] games. We have guys internally that would like the opportunity to see if they can take that stop and play. We feel very comfortable on the right side.”
Daley, 33, had 19 points in 56 games last season for the Pittsburgh Penguins and really stepped up for the Pens in the playoffs en route to the Cup once Kris Letang was lost to injury. Likewise, Michael Del Zotto signed a multi-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks, Karl Alzner signed a five-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens and Ron Hainsey is reportedly going to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a replacement for Matt Hunwick.
Dmitry Kulikov was a name among the group of left-shot defenseman that the Bruins had previously shown interest in when he was with the Florida Panthers, but there are also rumors that the 26-year-old Russian is headed toward signing a free-agent deal with the Winnipeg Jets.
So, it looks like the B’s might not be getting any of the top tier options for free agent D-men on the first day of unrestricted free agency and might have to continue exploring the trade market if they want to fill that need before the regular season starts.