NHL Notebook: Will a stagnant free-agent market open door for Bruins to sign scoring depth to bargain deals?

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The vacancy on Boston’s blue line left in the wake of Torey Krug’s departure remains Boston’s most pressing flaw to correct this offseason, but a B’s club felled up in Toronto by a lack of consistent 5v5 scoring punch could very well still be on the prowl for more firepower up front.

Yes, Boston’s forward corps — even without the additions of flashier names such as Taylor Hall — is still in relatively good shape, especially if Craig Smith elevates either Charlie Coyle or David Krejci’s line and Ondrej Kase (now gifted a full training camp) begins cashing in on the high volume of shots and scoring chances he generates. 

However, whether it be the offseason surgeries for both David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand that will keep Boston's top wingers on the shelf to open the 2021 season — or the risk that comes with expecting youngsters like Anders Bjork or Jack Studnicka to consistently supplement scoring in the middle-six — Boston very well could try to add another scoring option in an effort to prop up what could be a very young D corps next season.

However, with about $6.6 million in available cap space this offseason, it remains to be seen just how much capital Boston will be able to drop on another forward without diving into the bargain bin — especially after re-upping Jake DeBrusk to a new contract.

An obvious outlet for Boston to beef up its forward corps would be inking a scorer like Mike Hoffman — a player I'm admittedly not high on, but if he's willing to settle on a one-year deal, then the risk is pretty limited.  Still, even on a short-term contract, Hoffman's expected AAV on a new contract — while potentially not hovering around the $6+ million he was looking to command in market not devastated by non-existent revenue streams — likely puts him out of Boston's price range.

Still, given the state of the NHL in this flat-cap era — in which a still rather large pool of UFAs have yet to be scooped up by a dwindling number of clubs with cash at the ready — a scenario could present itself in which Boston could ink a viable second or third-line winger for pennies on the dollar, especially if these free agents start getting desperate going into November.

“I think the squeeze is there, regardless of whether or not you want to start at the top, bottom or middle,” Don Sweeney said of the free-agent market last weekend. “I think every player and every team is being affected. I think when the flat cap is announced for this year and the subsequent years moving forward, we knew there was going to be a squeeze. Player movement at times indicate that teams just have to loosen things up and other teams are not able to loosen things up. … As far as the players that remain, some very, very good hockey players that will help some teams."

So, who could be available for cheap if Boston is still on the prowl for some forward help in 2021?