The Boston Bruins had themselves an eventful start to the work week, as they signed Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Zacha, and David Krejci to new contracts. Although these are likely going to be the last major moves the team makes before the regular season begins, it wouldn’t hurt them to bring in one last depth forward. When looking at the remaining free agents on the board, there are three who stand out, in my opinion. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Before free agency began, the Anaheim Ducks made a surprising decision and didn’t send Sam Steel a qualifying offer. The 2016 first-round pick was once viewed as a potential long-term top-six center for the Ducks, but he never reached his full potential. Yet, with Steel only 24 years old, there’s reason to believe that he still can improve as he continues to gain more NHL experience. If he’s willing to ink a two-way deal for the year, the Bruins should be calling.
The Bruins are hoping that they fixed their center depth issue with the re-signings of Bergeron and Krejci. Yet, with both of these players in the final stages of their careers, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in some youth for insurance. With Steel having the potential to improve, that should make him an appealing target to general manager (GM) Don Sweeney.
In 68 games this past season with the Ducks, Steel had six goals and 20 points. Although those numbers aren’t dominant, the Ardrossan native has the potential to be a bottom-six forward in the Bruins’ current lineup. Overall, we don’t often see Sweeney take chances on younger free agents with potential upside, but I believe Steel is a forward where he truly should.
Daniel Sprong is another interesting free agent still looking for a new home. The 25-year-old right winger just split this season between the Washington Capitals and Seattle Kraken, where he had 14 goals to go along with six assists in 63 games. Yet, it’s important to note that he ended the year on a high note with the Kraken, as he had six goals in 16 contests. This wasn’t enough for him to land a qualifying offer from them, though, and I believe the Bruins should take advantage of this.
Sprong has shown in the past that he has the potential to be a quality secondary scorer. During the 2020-21 season with the Capitals, for example, he had 13 goals and recorded 20 points in 42 games. Adding a sniper like him on a two-way deal would come with virtually no risk and could benefit the Bruins if he can find a way to produce like that more regularly.
The Bruins are also not particularly strong when it comes to their right wing depth, as Sprong could fight for a spot in their bottom six with Nick Foligno and prospect Oskar Steen. Furthermore, if he gets hot, he also would be a candidate to receive some power play time because of his scoring ability. Overall, he seems like a solid low-risk, high-reward kind of signing, so he should be on the Bruins’ radar.
It is a little bit surprising that Alex Chiasson is still a free agent at this juncture of the offseason. The 6-foot-4 winger just had a solid campaign with the Vancouver Canucks, as he had 13 goals and 22 points. Adding that kind of size and production to the bottom six would be beneficial for the Bruins, so the Montreal native is a player worth taking a look at.
Chiasson is most useful when it comes to his excellent net-front presence on the power play. With the Canucks this past season, he scored six goals and had 10 points on the power play alone. With the Bruins’ power play fizzling out during the final stages of this past regular season, he could be worth signing as a way to try and help it.
As the offseason continues, there’s a chance that Chiasson would be willing to sign a two-way deal if the offers still aren’t coming in. Overall, the 31-year-old has the potential to be a strong depth addition for the Bruins. This is especially true when remembering that they are starting this upcoming season with several players out of the lineup due to injury.
Nevertheless, it will be intriguing to see if the Bruins end up signing one of these three forwards before the 2022-23 season begins. An NHL team can never have enough forward depth, and this is especially true when noting how often injuries occur. Out of the trio, Steel stands out the most, but I would take Sprong or Chiasson in a heartbeat as well.