Bruins: 3 Remaining Free Agent Defensemen to Target

The Boston Bruins are heading into the 2022-23 season with a bit more optimism after re-signing Patrice Bergeron and convincing David Krejci to return after a year in Czechia. Yet, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for them to consider bringing in another defenseman before the start of the campaign. Although we are late into the offseason, there are still some decent options available worth considering. Let’s take a look at each of them now.

P.K. Subban

Yes, P.K. Subban was previously one of the Bruins’ biggest rivals during his tenure with the Montreal Canadiens. Yet, when looking at the Bruins’ current roster, he could be a very solid addition to it. Although they have an abundance of NHL-caliber left-handed defensemen, their right side is still questionable. If Subban were to sign in Boston, he would be an immediate upgrade to the bottom pair over Connor Clifton.

P.K. Subban, New Jersey Devils
P.K. Subban, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Although Subban’s days of being a top-tier NHL defenseman are over, he is still capable of providing solid offense from the point. In 77 games this past season with the New Jersey Devils, he scored five goals and recorded 22 points. With secondary scoring becoming a notable issue for the Bruins, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to add Subban because of this. Furthermore, he would work well running the point on the Bruins’ second powerplay unit.

The Bruins are currently over the salary cap when healthy, so they would need to move at least one player to bring in an upgrade like Subban. Mike Reilly ($3 million cap hit), Derek Forbort ($3 million cap hit), and Clifton ($1 million cap hit) are players who could be potential trade candidates in a scenario like this. However, even if they move at least one of them, they’d need to convince Subban to sign for a lower cap hit. It would take a lot of work for general manager (GM) Don Sweeney to pull this off, but it could be worth it if it means landing the 2013 Norris Trophy winner.

Michael Stone

Although signing Subban would be a nice late summer splash for the Bruins, there certainly are obstacles that would make it a bit challenging for Sweeney to successfully pull off. Thankfully, he isn’t the only right-handed defenseman still available who could make sense for them. Under-the-radar free agent Michael Stone would be a far cheaper option and could be easily obtainable because of it.

Related: 3 Bruins Breakout Candidates for 2022-23 Season

With the offseason nearing its completion, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that Stone would be open to signing a two-way contract. This would make adding him to the team’s depth a fairly easy process. Truthfully, it would even be an avenue worth exploring when looking at the Bruins’ injury troubles to start the year. Adding him would also give them another decent option on the right side, which is something they need.

Stone split this past season between the Calgary Flames and their former American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Stockton Heat. With the NHL club, he quietly recorded a decent six points in 11 games. Although he produced at a solid pace in 2021-22, this isn’t the norm for him, as he is an old-fashioned defensive defenseman and is more known for his physical game than his offense. Still, that is something that the Bruins should be open to adding to their roster, even if he is utilized as an extra defenseman.

Zdeno Chara

Let’s end this with an old friend. At this juncture of the offseason, Zdeno Chara has not announced if he will be playing during the 2022-23 season. If he does decide to play, it would be fun to see him as a Bruin one last time. He is of course remembered most for his time with the team, having spent 14 seasons as their captain. Seeing him spend these last two seasons with the Washington Capitals and then New York Islanders just didn’t look right, but now Sweeney has the power to change all that.

Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s unlikely that Chara would be open to a two-way deal, however. As a result of this, even if he signs a league-minimum contract, the Bruins would need to move out salary to sign him. Still, if it means bringing back one of the biggest faces in the team’s history, would it be worth it? Chara is still an extremely imposing figure and could work as a potential bottom pair option. In 72 games this past season with the Islanders, he had two goals, 14 points, and 85 penalty minutes. Honestly, those aren’t bad numbers from the now-45-year-old defensive defenseman.

If Chara does decide to retire, Sweeney still needs to sign him, but to a one-day contract. The future Hall of Famer has earned the right to end his career with the Bruins, one way or another.

Nevertheless, it will be intriguing to see if Sweeney decides to make any last-minute changes to the Bruins’ defense. All three of these options would be pretty nice to see end up in Boston for the 2022-23 campaign. Subban and Chara are the big names, but an underrated veteran like Stone wouldn’t be too bad, either.

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