On Tuesday afternoon, the Boston Bruins announced that two of their first-line forwards underwent surgery back in September that would keep them out four to five months. Left wing Brad Marchand underwent sports hernia repair and Rocket Richard co-winner and right wing David Pastrnak underwent right hip arthroscopy and labral repair.
There is so much still surrounding when the 2020-21 NHL will start. In a perfect senerio for the NHL, they would start the season around Jan. 1. If that is able to happen, which still remains to be seen. If the league is going to start the season around that time, the Bruins could be looking at losing two of their most important forwards for some time.
General manager Don Sweeney has been quiet through the first five days of free agency. He re-signed defenseman Kevan Miller on Friday before signing forward Craig Smith to a three-year deal Saturday to add some depth to their middle-six. Sweeney and the Bruins front office knew before free agency began that Marchand and Pastrnak would be missing some time after their surgeries. Instead of adding more depth to their forward grouping with a free agent, Sweeney stood pat.
Below are two fee agent forwards that Sweeney had a chance to sign, but chose not to. I’m not saying he should have signed both, but one would have been better than none to add some offensive depth.
The first overall pick of the 2010 Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Hall hit free agency after he began last season with the New Jersey Devils, but was traded on Dec. 16 to the Arizona Coyotes for three players and two draft picks. He scored 16 goals and had 36 regular-season assists, before scoring two goals and dishing out four assists in nine playoff games in the Edmonton bubble for the Coyotes.
Hard to believe it’s been 10 years since he was drafted No. 1 overall, but at 28 years old, the 6-foot-1 and 205-pound left wing just signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres. He has 218 goals and 345 assists in 627 regular-season games, but a one-year deal for $8 million would have been a perfect deal for the Bruins.
This would it have been a perfect deal for the Bruins to make. Rumor had it that Hall wanted a one-year deal for the 2020-21 season before looking for a bigger deal the following offseason. It would have been no-brainer for Sweeney to swing big with a one-year deal for Hall at this price.
Sweeney has just under $12 million available in cap space. With the Bruins core window closing to win a Stanley Cup, bringing in a veteran forward to add to the top-six, if not the top-three with the uncertainty after Marchand and Pastrnak’s injuries, who can score full strength and one the power play only made too much sense. Hall would have been a perfect fit for the Black and Gold.
Drafted one round later after Hall and 47th overall in the 2010 draft by the Los Angeles Kings, Toffoli was another veteran free agent that would have been a very good fit with the Bruins as another goal scorer. At the trade deadline in February, the Bruins kicked the tires with Kings about a trade for the 28-year-old, but LA ended up sending him to the Vancouver Canucks for two players and a draft pick.
A nine-year veteran, Toffoli has 145 goals and 155 assists in 525 games between Los Angles and Vancouver. He also has 32 power play goals with 23 assists. Another free agent that can provide a top-six goal scoring presence both even strength and on the power play.
The Bruins settled for Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie at the trade deadline instead of making a deal for Toffoli. His four-year, $17 million deal with the Montreal Canadiens with a yearly salary cap hit of $4.25 that he agreed to on Monday is another deal that Sweeney could have done for that price.
Two Missed Opportunities
Again, Sweeney did not need to sign both players, but one would have helped to fill a void. The Bruins struggled the whole 2019-20 season with secondary scoring and adding either player had the opportunity to add some much-needed offense. If Marchand and Pastrnak are not able to begin the season while they recover from their surgeries, then coach Bruce Cassidy has his work cut out for him finding goal scorers to place alongside Bergeron.
With money still available to sign a free agent or two, it would be beneficial for Sweeney and the Bruins to add some scoring from somewhere to help with the possibility of Boston beginning the 2020-21 season without two of their top point producers from last season.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. 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.