The Boston Bruins are heading into the offseason with several questions. General manager (GM) Don Sweeney told reporters that next year’s team will be different, and this is understandable. Boston does not have the cap space to bring back all of their free agents this summer, and gritty forward Garnet Hathaway could be one of the players who they move on from because of it.
Overall, Hathaway proved to be a solid rental for the Bruins. Although he was not a star, he provided their bottom six with immense physicality and grit, so he will be missed if he walks. Due to his ability to chip in offensively in a bottom-six role and his toughness, several clubs will target him this summer. Let’s discuss three specific potential free-agent destinations for him because of it.
After a very underwhelming 2022-23 season that saw them miss the playoffs, the Calgary Flames are gearing up for a big offseason. They already let Brad Treliving and Darryl Sutter go, but that is just going to be the beginning. Changes to their current roster will be made, and one specific area where they will be focusing on is their bottom six. Milan Lucic, Nick Ritchie, and Trevor Lewis are all pending unrestricted free agents (UFA), so they could look to bring in Hathaway to boost their fourth line. Keep in mind, he also is a former Flame, having played there from 2015-16 to 2018-19.
If the Flames move on from Lucic and Ritchie, they will be losing some toughness that Hathaway could help make up. After all, the 31-year-old had a career-high 268 hits in 84 games this season, so he plays a real edge. In terms of a specific placement for him in their lineup, he would work quite nicely on the club’s fourth line. With that, he would be a clear option for their penalty kill as well.
When noting that Hathaway was a solid bottom-six forward during his previous stint as a Flame, it does not seem too out of the question that they would be interested in bringing him back.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers had a big trade deadline, as they added Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Motte, and Niko Mikkola. Yet, going all in did not result in any playoff success, as they were bounced in the first round by the New Jersey Devils. As a result, GM Chris Drury will be looking to make some changes to their group, and he should specifically be looking to make his team tougher. Bringing in Hathaway would be one way to help make that come to fruition.
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When looking at the Rangers’ lineup, it is clear that they would use some help on their fourth line. With Motte being a pending UFA, they could bring in Hathaway as an upgrade over him. He would not only provide them with more grit but also some much-needed secondary scoring in their bottom six. With that, he would instantly become one of their top penalty-killing forwards if signed. Thus, this should be something that Drury considers.
After a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday (May 14), the Edmonton Oilers season is officially over. Now, with this defeat, the Oilers are preparing for what will be a busy offseason. It is clear that the Oilers have emerged as one of the top teams in the league, and they should continue to be next season and onward. However, if they hope to have more success in the playoffs next year, they should look to improve their bottom six. Signing Hathaway, of course, would be one possible way to make this happen.
The Oilers have several pending UFA forwards like Mattias Janmark, Derek Ryan, Devin Shore, and Nick Bjugstad. As a result, they should browse the free-agent market for bottom-six forwards, and Hathaway stands out as a prime potential target. This is because the Oilers could use more bite and offensive production in their bottom six, which Hathaway provides. As a result, he would be a notable addition to the Oilers’ roster if he is successfully signed.
Overall, it is clear that the Bruins would love to keep Hathaway in Boston, but it will be very difficult given their salary cap situation. If they have no choice but to let him walk, do not be surprised if the Flames, Rangers, and Oilers are three of the many teams who express interest in him this summer.