With a revamped offseason welcoming the start of free agency on Friday afternoon, here are a few thoughts on what has been an ... well, eventful, 24+ hours for the Boston Bruins:
1. Bruins still could be in play for a UFA splash:
As expected, Don Sweeney didn't disclose much when it came to what's next for Boston after signing Craig Smith to a three-year contract on Saturday. While Smith brings a ton of great value to Boston, especially if slotted next to Charlie Coyle on the third line, the Bruins still have plenty of work to do — be it on the blue line with Torey Krug gone or with another piece up front.
The top forward on the free-agent market in Taylor Hall remains up for grabs — with the factors impacting this offseason potentially making the 2017-18 Hart Trophy winner a potential target for Boston, given that the 28-year-old star could opt for a short-term deal with a contender while waiting for the league's revenue to bounce back.
Sweeney didn't specifically mention Hall specifically (although the question posed mentioned the former Coyotes winger by name), but Boston's GM did note that Boston is keeping its options open while waiting for a hamstrung free-agent market to settle itself out.
"We’re comfortable having conversations with the remaining free agents that we feel would help our club," he said, adding: In regards to other players, we’re certainly engaging the interest on both sides of it and seeing what we can potentially fit in."
We won't be offering a deep dive for now in terms of why Hall would be a great addition to Boston because, well, it's rather self-explanatory — especially given that he would be slotted next to David Krejci on this B's roster.
With a little under $12 million in cap space remaining (and RFAs to sign like Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk), things could get dicey when it comes to signing Hall to a deal — but it's not completely out of the question, especially if Boston moves some assets out (DeBrusk could be a candidate here for a deal).
At this point, given how unforgiving this market has been to free agents, it seems as though Hall will have to decide between long-term deals with clubs with heavy pockets like Columbus or Nashville, or short-term contracts with a team like the Bruins or Avalanche. It's not exactly a great spot for UFAs to be in, but it plays into Boston's favor if they intend to really swing for the fences this fall.
2. Doesn't seem like Alex Pietrangelo is headed to Boston:
While Boston is apparently keeping its options open as far as additions up front and perhaps on the blue line, it appears as though the top dog on the free-agent market, former Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, will not be in the cards.
"I have not, full disclosure in this case, I have not had a discussion with Pietrangelo’s camp," Sweeney said. "We feel that our right side might not be the absolute best fit for our club. Very respectful for the player, an elite player in the National Hockey League. That’s not the discussion we’ve had."
With Torey Krug signing with St. Louis — who already foolishly committed seven years and $45.5 million to signing ... Justin Faulk? — it appears as though the Blues will not retain their star defenseman in Pietrangelo, who is currently visiting the Vegas Golden Knights. While the lack of available suitors could prompt Pietrangelo to settle for a shorter-term deal — or one that would pay less than the $9+ million in AAV he was likely looking for — Boston likely wouldn't be an ideal fit.
Yes, adding a top-pairing defenseman like Pietrangelo would be a great coup, but his value wanes a bit given that he's a right-shot D — which Boston already has plenty of in the form of guys like Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. Yes, you could then package a player like Carlo for more forward help, but Boston has more pressing issues to deal with on the other side of its D corps.
3. As for left D?