The Boston Bruins will want to make a splash in NHL free agency to try and contend in the 2022-23 season.
NHL free agency starts July 13 and there are a lot of options who can make a big impact if they were to sign with a new team. The Bruins are prepared to be shorthanded to begin next season as Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk all underwent offseason surgery and are not expected to be ready.
So how can Boston make up for the potential absences? Look to free agency.
The defensemen options in free agency are few and far between so the Bruins will have to find some under-the-radar names to make it work. Good news for them is the offensive side of free agency is filled with potential forwards who could come in and help right away, some of which have been connected to the Bruins in the past.
Here are a few options Boston may consider when free agency opens Wednesday.
Vincent Trocheck, center
2021-22 cap hit: $4.75 million
2021-22 stats: 21 goals, 30 assists in 81 games
The Bruins have been rumored to have shown interest in Trocheck time and time again in the past, mostly when he played for the Florida Panthers. The center played a key role in the Carolina Hurricanes’ success over the last few seasons as his all-around ability fit in well in the middle of their lineup. Trocheck had 21 goals and 30 assists in the regular season before adding an impressive playoffs with 10 points in 14 games before the Hurricanes were eliminated by the New York Rangers.
With Boston’s need for a second-line center being a continuous topic of conversation in the 2021-22 season, Trocheck makes sense to bring in to help them make another run to the Stanley Cup.
Andrew Copp, center
2021-22 cap hit: $3.64 million
2021-22 stats: 21 goals, 32 assists in 72 games
Copp, much like Trocheck, is a forward who has been connected to the Bruins in the past. Boston had reported interest in acquiring the center at the trade deadline but it was the Rangers who went out and added the center for their playoff push that left them two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final. Copp excelled when he arrived in New York, recording 18 points in 16 regular-season games. The center added 14 more in 20 playoff games to earn himself what should be a good-sized contract in free agency. If the Bruins believe his injury woes can be left behind, signing Copp may be an even better acquisition for the Bruins considering his age.
Evgeni Malkin, center
2021-22 cap hit: $9.5 million
2021-22 stats: 20 goals, 22 assists in 41 games
Let’s get crazy. Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to separate in free agency and it presents an opportunity for the center to find a big role on a team without having to be the top offensive weapon — as he did in Pittsburgh. It’s become a theme when talking about the Bruins that they need help up the middle and Malkin, who has question marks regarding his health, can be the one to fill in. Malkin hasn’t lost a beat on the ice as his 42 points in 41 games would be an impressive combination to pair with Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. It’s worth noting this is probably the least likely move for the Bruins but could be worth considering if Malkin isn’t looking for a large contract for his services.
NHL free agency officially begins July 13 at 12 p.m. ET.