The Bruins come off the Cup win with only two three key unrestricted free agents, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder and Tomas Kaberle. Recchi has already retired, and it seems unlikely Michael Ryder is back unless he takes a 1 year deal at around 2-2.5 million. GM Peter Chiarelli has had some negotiations with Kaberle’s agent, but it seems he may wait to see what shakes out in the free agent market before committing to a deal. Let’s take a look up some options for the Bruins.
Simon Gagne – Bruins fans have been wanting this guy for a few years, one because he has killed us in the playoffs, and two, he has a natural goal scoring touch. He isn’t likely to be back in Tampa Bay, and the former 40 goal scorer has had his share of head injuries the past few years. He is 31, and hasn’t played more than 63 games in the past two seasons. When healthy, he can be a 30 goal scorer. He would fit nicely on the 2nd line with Bergeron and Marchand, or even the 3rd line with Seguin and Peverley/Kelly. He could get a 2 year deal at around 3 million per season.
Brooks Laich – Laich is a center who can also play wing. He is a consistent 50 point/20 goal guy. He is entering the prime of his career and is only 28. He will likely command around 3.5-4 million per season, which may be a little rich for the Bruins considering they have a ton of forward vying for roster spots. He isn’t the dynamic forward they may be looking for, but he fits the mold of what the Bruins like. He is the type of free agent, especially in a weak market, that will likely be overpaid.
Ville Leino – The late blooming Ville Leino. Stay away from him. He gives me that Radim Vrbata vide. He had one great season and that great playoffs two years ago, but he is going get a deal at around 4-4.5 million. Remember, he was playing on a high scoring Flyers team with a bunch of guys who could score. He will get a 4-5 year deal at around 4.5 million. Too rich for the Bruins.
Niclas Bergfors – He will be a UFA after Florida non-tenders him. He is only 24 and the former first round pick scored 21 two years ago. He may be worth a shot at around a million bucks. Could play in the third line and managed a +2 in 20 games with Florida.
Joni Pitkanen – Pitkanen will command around 5 million bucks, but unlike Kaberle is only 27 and plays huge minutes (25 a night). He has some offensive pop, but not the same kind of playmaker Kabs is. He is a guy who could fit the Bruins well.
James Wisniewski – Wisniewski is also 27 and had a monster season for the Habs and Islanders. He will likely get around 4.5-5 million as well. He has only surpassed 30 points once in his career, last year, which may be a turn off (one year wonder vibe). He also isn’t a goal scorer, even with his big shot (only 10 goals once in his career). Defenseman tend to be later bloomers though, so this could have been his break-out season.
Christian Ehrhoff – Only 28, Ehrhoff has been a 40+ point guy the past three seasons. He can powerplay a PP and logs some big minutes. He is soft though, as we saw in the Vancouver series. I don’t think he is the first choice for the Bruins, and he could command up to 5.5 million on the open market.
Kevin Bieska – The 30 year old has a huge injury history, stay away. He will likely re-sign in Vancouver, and hasn’t been healthy much in his career. Will get around 4 million per.
Sami Salo – See Bieska, except 36.