The Boston Bruins’ cap situation has come a bit more into focus after the Jake DeBrusk signing.
And even if it’s minimal, there theoretically is a little wiggle room for the Bruins in terms of cap space.
The Bruins, according to CapFriendly, have just under $3 million in space for the upcoming season. They still have Zdeno Chara to sign, but his last few contracts have been cheap, incentive-laden deals. Still, bringing him back would tighten things even more.
As a result, getting Mike Hoffman seems unlikely unless the Bruins make a notable, cap-clearing move in response. But still, there are a few other potential impact forwards who the Bruins might be able to pursue.
Some are more feasible than others, but let’s dive in.
Anthony Duclair — Spent last season with Senators at $1.65 million cap hit
Although the Senators have not ruled out bringing him back, he might be the most realistic option at this point for the Bruins between what he would get money-wise and what he would contribute on the ice.
He’s bounced around in some tough situations, but found a nice home in Ottawa, slashing 23-17-40 in 66 games last season while playing almost exclusively top-six minutes. Duclair only is 25-years-old and with each passing year his scoring touch has improved.
The torpedoed forward market could limit his earning potential, so he conceivably could be had on a deal that doesn’t require major cap gymnastics while also filling a middle six winger role.
Mikael Granlund — Spent last season with Predators at $5.75 million cap hit
We’ll concede, he is the biggest reach of all, and probably only realistic if someone like Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak ends up on long-term IR. Still though, that would just delay the potential cap headache by a few weeks.
That said, he almost certainly will not make the money he did in Nashville, so maybe there’s an off chance he ends up in the $2.5-$3 million AAV range, but even that might be conservative, and still would require another move on the Bruins’ part to shed cash.
But he’s hit the 60-plus-point threshold twice already in his career, and even though the fits weren’t great with the Predators or Minnesota Wild, he put up 16-38-54 in 2018-19 and 17-13-30 last season.
The offensive upside is there, and putting him with David Krejci or Charlie Coyle could help him rebound. Still though, money is the big roadblock.
Andreas Athanasiou — Spent last season with Red Wings, Oilers at $3 million cap hit
We’ve beaten the Athanasiou-Bruins drum plenty of times. He found a way to be a productive offensive player with some abysmal Red Wings teams, and he’s fast as all get out.
His defense is horrid though, and, even with the tantalizing upside, he’s not the type of guy the Bruins should overextend themselves for.
If he has to take a paycut though, he might be a nice option for the Bruins.
Corey Perry — Spent last season with Stars at $1.5 million cap hit
Bruins fans love grit and, to a fault sometimes, Perry can provide it.
He’s not the offensive player he was earlier in his career, but he’s not a liability and was a productive player for Dallas in the postseason. It seems like he’ll ride out his career on one-year, $1-1.5 million deals, so he theoretically could be a bottom six option for Boston.
Ilya Kovalchuk — Played for Canadiens, Capitals at $700,000 after getting bought out by Kings
Kovalchuk still is in line to make $6.25 million from the Los Angeles Kings this season after they bought him out last December. For that reason, he very well might sign somewhere near the minimum again.
That could make him an enticing option for the Bruins, especially with the improvement he showed playing for the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals.
It seems like a foregone conclusion that he returns to Montreal, but if he doesn’t he might be able to serve as a bargain option for the Bruins.