In this edition of Boston Bruins News & Rumors, the lack of depth on the back end to begin the 2022-23 season has sparked some talk about bringing a defenseman to camp on a professional tryout offer (PTO), perhaps Keith Yandle or P.K. Subban. Meanwhile, Keltie Jeri Leon will be attending camp this fall on a PTO of his own. Last but not least, former head coach Bruce Cassidy gave his thoughts on Jake DeBrusk rescinding his trade request.
Bruins May Look to Bring in Defenseman on PTO
Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now recently wrote an article suggesting the Bruins should look into bringing a veteran free agent such as Yandle or Subban to camp on a PTO. As Murphy points out, this is a team that is going to be very shorthanded on the back end to enter the 2022-23 season, as both Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelyck are expected to miss a good chunk of time, while Mike Reilly and Jakub Zboril may not be ready from the get-go, all due to injuries.
Yandle, 35, spent the 2021-22 season with the Philadelphia Flyers after being bought out by the Florida Panthers last summer. The veteran blueliner skated in 77 games, scoring one goal and 19 points while averaging just under 14 minutes per game. His plus/minus of minus-47 will leave plenty hesitant, but bringing him in on a PTO does no harm to the organization. If he proves he can play, perhaps a cheap one-year deal can get worked out. If he struggles, he can be cut loose with no repercussions.
Subban, 33, has spent the past three seasons with the New Jersey Devils, three seasons in which he has seen his stock drop dramatically. The former Norris Trophy winner appeared in 77 games this past season, notching five goals and 22 points in just over 18 minutes of ice time per game. Bringing him in on a PTO would be essentially a no-brainer for the Bruins, though it is possible he is still able to secure a contract before training camps begin.
Bruins Invite Jeri Leon to Camp
As first noted by CapFriendly on Tuesday morning, the Bruins appear to have signed Jeri Leon to a PTO for training camp this fall. The 22-year-old appeared in 57 games with the Bruins’ ECHL affiliate, the Maine Mariners, last season, scoring 19 goals and 35 points. He was also able to get in an additional two games with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League (AHL), where he put up a lone goal.
This PTO is an opportunity for Jeri Leon to land a roster spot in the AHL for the 2022-23 season. Though he doesn’t appear to have much NHL upside at this time, earning a spot in Providence and having a big year could prove to be enough to change that narrative. He is still at a point age-wise where we cannot yet be counted out.
Cassidy Speaks on DeBrusk Rescinding Trade
This past November, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney confirmed reports that DeBrusk had, in fact, requested a trade. The 25-year-old was clearly growing frustrated with his role on the team, one that played a part in his offense diminishing from what it had been during his first two years in the league. That trade request, however, was recently rescinded, causing many to believe it had plenty to do with Cassidy, who was fired as the Bruins’ bench boss earlier this offseason. Cassidy, now with the Golden Knights, was recently asked his thoughts on the situation.
“The Jake one? Only he can answer that. I thought he had a really good finish to his year,” Cassidy answered. “I think there was different things that went into his trade demand. We just signed Taylor Hall to a long-term contract, who was a left winger. (Brad Marchand) had a long-term contract, so there may have been some issues of how high I can get in the lineup.
“I think the thing that worked out with Jake is he switched to play the right wing and that really helped him get more ice time and play with higher-end players. So that was a good thing for him to be amenable to that switch. But only he can answer that.”
Since the firing of Cassidy, there have been several rumors that plenty of players in the Bruins locker room grew tired of him. That theory has been discussed as a potential reason David Krejci chose to return to Czechia for the 2021-22 season and recently re-sign with the Bruins on a one-year deal, though he himself has denied that being the case. Nonetheless, having a fresh start with a new head coach in Jim Montgomery should do wonders for DeBrusk, who at times has proven he can be an extremely valuable asset in the team’s top-six.
Looking Ahead for the Bruins
The one thing to keep an eye out for moving forward is who the Bruins may choose to invite to camp in the coming weeks. Both Yandle and Subban are possibilities, as are a few other veteran defensemen without contracts themselves in Anton Stralman, Calvin de Haan, and Danny DeKeyser. Suffice to say, there are a number of options the Bruins should have if they indeed intend to go down that path.