WILMINGTON – While there were a few cries among Bruins fans when the Black and Gold weren’t in the hunt for aging scorer Dany Heatley as he signed a one year, $1 million deal with the Anaheim Ducks, the B’s are most definitely going in a different direction.
The Bruins passed on Heatley for a couple of different reasons: he’s seen his skating, shooting and overall hockey skills decline in a big way in Minnesota as he readies to turn 34 years old this season, and there’s probably a little too much baggage with former Ottawa Senators teammates leading the way for the Black and Gold.
But it’s nothing personal to Heatley, or any other free agent.
At this point the cap-strapped Bruins are working things out with their own free agent players, and skipping the remaining free agent market altogether. According to cap geek, the Bruins have roughly $5.7 million (counting the Marc Savard LTI exception) to sign Bartkowski, Torey Krug, Reilly Smith and re-sign a number of RFA’s like Fraser, Caron and Justin Florek.
A Bruins source told CSNNE.com that the team may stand pat, but would be more likely to add a right wing via trade if they decide to upgrade.
“If we do anything at all it would be a trade rather than a free agent signing at this stage,” said the source. “We’ll see what happens.”
In particular, the source shot down any idea of the Bruins signing free agent right wing Peter Mueller as he hopes to return to the NHL, and there didn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for free agent Lee Stempniak either. Daniel Alfredsson remained an intriguing veteran name on the free agent market, but there’s been no indication that the 41-year-old won’t be returning to the Detroit Red Wings once they add another defenseman or two to their roster.
Instead the Bruins will undoubtedly have to move salary if they plan to add salary in an established right winger that could play with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, or man the third line and push Loui Eriksson up to the top forward spot. The Bruins have some solid trade chips in Matt Bartkowski, Jordan Caron, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille and David Warsofsky if they’re looking for a depth player, but a potential top line player could come with a cost along the lines of Johnny Boychuk, or a Brad Marchand. There have been some twitter murmuring of a Johnny Boychuk-for-Tomas Jurco swap between the Bruins and Red Wings, but there have been no indications that the divisional rivals would be willing to help each other out.
If the Bruins stand pat then Eriksson would push up to the right wing spot alongside Krejci and Lucic, and a number of young forwards in the Bruins system (Ryan Spooner, Alex Khokhlachev, Craig Cunningham, Justin Florek and Matt Fraser) will be in the running for bottom six forward jobs.