For as much as the Bruins still have pressing vacancies to address on their roster, the amount of options available to them appear rather limited in a stagnant, regressed offseason market rocked by a flat cap and other aftershocks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boston currently has about $6.6 million in available cap space this offseason, with a large part of that remaining capital likely diverted to retain its top RFA in Jake DeBrusk. But even with DeBrusk back in the fold (and potentially a return for Zdeno Chara), Boston’s team (as constituted) still has some series flaws.
Even though a forward corps featuring additions like Craig Smith and Ondrej Kase is a major upgrade from where Boston was a season ago (remember the top-six days of Brett Ritchie?), offseason surgeries for both David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand (and some extended recovery timelines) create some worry that the B’s might be best served adding another scorer up front to help supplement some of the production lost with both wingers on the mend.
But above all, the current state of Boston’s blue line remains the most pressing issue with this club. Even though Boston could try to slap a band-aid on its D corps by signing Chara to a lesser role and letting youngsters like Urho Vaakanainen or Jakub Zboril compete for those available minutes following the departure of Torey Krug in free agency, there’s a lot of risk involved in relying on a youth movement in such a crucial role — especially with Boston trying to orchestrate another Cup run with this aging veteran core.
How Boston goes about realistically improving that section of its roster, however, remains to be seen.
There aren’t plenty of suitable options left in free agency, while Boston balked at trades involving players saddled with absurd asking prices (Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Arizona) or hefty price tags (Nate Schmidt in Vegas).
Given the state of the market and the current fiscal standing of the B’s, it would appear as though a trade is the best route that Don Sweeney and Co. can take to add an impact blueliner to this roster, although it can’t be for a skater that’s going to break the bank and put Boston into a cap hell that has already ensnared many other teams already this fall.
Thankfully, it does appear as though there’s one logical target who remains the subject of many whispers circulating around a largely dormant trade market.