After an early playoff exit, the Boston Bruins are due to make some changes to their roster. One area that general manager (GM) Don Sweeney should focus on is the center position. They, of course, lost David Krejci last summer, and Patrice Bergeron has not committed to playing the 2022-23 season. Luckily for the Bruins, this year’s free agent class has some very intriguing centers. Here are three who the Bruins should consider targeting if they each hit the open market.
If the Pittsburgh Penguins are unable to reach a contract extension with Evgeni Malkin before free agency begins, the Bruins should consider targeting the future Hall of Famer. He is continuing to avoid Father Time’s wrath, as he is still an elite player at 35 years old. Although he was limited to 41 games this season, he still managed to score 20 goals and record 42 points. With that, he had six points in seven postseason season games.
Malkin could view the Bruins as a potential landing spot for himself, too. Much like the Penguins, they have been able to remain a playoff-caliber team for many years. Furthermore, head coach Bruce Cassidy would likely place him right between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. If this were to occur, this second line would be better than many other NHL teams’ first lines. Furthermore, there’s no denying that Malkin would also strengthen the Bruins’ power play immensely.
Bruins fans should be hoping that the Penguins will not be able to come to terms with Malkin on a new deal. He’s the kind of elite talent that could help them become full-on contenders again. But for such a move to come to fruition, the Bruins would also need to free up some cap space this offseason.
Like Malkin, Claude Giroux is still a very good NHL player, even if he’s getting older. One can easily tell that just by looking at his statistics from the 2021-22 campaign. In 75 games between the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers, the Hearst, Canada native, scored 21 goals and recorded 44 assists. Yet, after getting traded to a much stronger Panthers club, he had an impressive 23 points in just 18 regular-season games. Thus, when with a better supporting cast, he still has the ability to produce at an elite pace.
If the Bruins were to sign Giroux, he would also be a perfect fit for the second-line center position. The veteran on a line with Pastrnak and Hall would be lethal and make the Bruins far more challenging to go up against. However, he also has enough skill to take over Bergeron’s spot on the first line if the former decides to retire this summer. With that, he is still very effective on both the power play and penalty kill.
The Bruins also expressed interest in Giroux when the Flyers were shopping him before the trade deadline. Although he made it clear that he only wished to play for the Panthers, he could have a change of heart after their underwhelming second-round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. At a minimum, the Bruins should at least kick the tires on a potential Giroux signing this summer.
Vincent Trocheck may have developed a rivalry with Brad Marchand this season through trashing talking, but he would still be such a good addition for the Bruins. Although he doesn’t possess the same kind of offensive pedigree as Malkin and Giroux, he is a very solid two-way center who would also be cheaper. He also would be an upgrade to the second-line center position over Erik Haula.
Trocheck put together a strong 2021-22 regular season with the Carolina Hurricanes. In 81 games on the year, he had 21 goals, 30 assists, and an excellent plus-21 rating. Although these numbers are certainly impressive, he has also shown in the past that he can produce at an even higher rate. During the 2020-21 season, he had 43 points in 47 games. Furthermore, he also had a 75-point campaign in 82 games with the Panthers during the 2017-18 season. If utilized properly with the correct linemates, it’s fair to wonder if he could hit these kinds of totals again. Perhaps playing with Hall and Pastrnak could do just that.
Although Trocheck has expressed a desire to stay with the Hurricanes past this season, their limited cap space may not allow that to occur. This is especially true if he is looking for a nice raise this summer. Thus, if he officially hits the market, the Bruins should absolutely consider targeting him.
Nevertheless, signing any of these three centers would be massive for the Bruins. Of course, Malkin would be the biggest addition out of the trio, but there’s no question that Giroux and Trocheck would be excellent, too. Perhaps a reunion with Krejci could also be a possibility, but he hasn’t been vocal about an NHL return. Alas, time will tell if the Bruins end up landing any of these players from here.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.