Free agency begins on July 28 and this is going to be one of the more important free agencies for Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney in his six years on the job. His core of veterans with a championship window is closing and it’s debatable how fast it’s closing.
There are several decisions facing the Bruins with their own free agent forwards. Veteran second-line center David Krejci is a free agent and there are questions about whether he will return to the Bruins on a contract that would require a pay cut. His left wing following the trade deadline, Taylor Hall is also a free agent and has expressed his desire to return to Boston. Like Krejci, it would require Hall to take a pay cut.
If the Bruins are serious about going all-in for another run at a Stanley Cup championship next season, then retaining one, if not both, would be required. Another potential roadblock for Sweeney is the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft where there is the possibility that left-wingers Jake DeBrusk and Nick Ritchie could be left exposed and picked up the NHL’s 32nd franchise that is beginning play this October.
With questions surrounding which wingers will be back for the 2021-22 season, there is a good chance that the Bruins will have to look to free agency to fill some holes. If they do, here are three options that Sweeney has to add some wing depth.
Goodrow has had a good two-year playoff run with the Tampa Bay Lightning after being traded by the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline in February of 2020. In 55 games for the Lightning this regular season, the 28-year-old had six goals and 14 assists in 55 games. In the postseason, he had two goals and four assists in helping the Lightning win their second straight Stanley Cup. In the Stanley Cup Final, he recorded one point in each of the first four games against the Montreal Canadiens on the third line.
Goodrow’s two-year deal of $1.85 million contract that carried a $925,000 cap hit expires. He is in line for a pay rise this offseason and a $2-3 million annual average value (AAV) is not out of the question. If the Bruins lose Ritchie or DeBrusk in the Seattle Expansion Draft, Goodrow would be a good addition as a left wing as he is someone who could slide into the middle and win some key faceoffs too.
Last offseason, the Bruins were linked to Hoffman in free agency, but the veteran left wing signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the St. Louis Blues and had an excellent season. In 52 games, he had 17 goals and 19 assists and most of those 17 goals came in bunches. In an eight-game span in February, he had five goals, then near the end of the season, he had nine goals in 14 games to help the Blues make the playoffs.
Prior to this season, Hoffman scored at least 20 goals in six consecutive seasons, with a career-high of 36 in 2018-19 with the Florida Panthers. Despite the 2020-21 season being just 56 games and playing in 52, he was three goals shy of a seventh consecutive 20-goal season. There is no doubt that he is still a 20-goal scorer and would be well worth an addition, especially if Hall doesn’t. Boston was interested in him once and should be again.
The Bruins were very interested in Palmieri at the trade deadline in April, but he ended up getting traded to the New York Islanders and played a part in Boston’s playoff elimination in six games in the second round. This was not the first time that the Black and Gold were linked to Palmieri and he would be a nice veteran addition to their third line.
Palmieri scored four goals against the Bruins in their playoff series and that is nothing new. When he was playing for the Devils this season, he scored five goals against Boston. In 17 regular-season games following the trade from New Jersey, he had a Corsi for (CF%) of 53.7% and a Fenwick for (FF%) of 56.6%. The 30-year-old finished the playoffs with seven goals for the Islanders.
Plenty of Options For Sweeney
A lot of what Sweeney and the Bruins pursue will depend on what happens with the Seattle Expansion Draft and free agency with Hall. The Tampa Bay Lightning have shown the last two seasons that having three lines produce in the playoffs is a big key to success. It would be in the Black and Gold’s best interest if they are going to go all-in in 2021-22 to try and build three solid lines to compete with the top teams. Some of the names above would be a good way to go.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.