So the Bruins have won the Cup which is awesome! But they have their work cut out for them if they want to repeat. They have a few free agents who are leaving. But this freed up money also gives them a chance to improve.
Bruins Unrestricted FAs:
1. Power play QB/Play making defenseman. The Bruins were a woeful 11.4% on the powerplay in the post season. Which was the 3rd worst of any team in the playoffs. They definitely made it hard on themselves to win games. In the regular season they didn't fare much better, scoring only 16.2% of the time, good for 20th in the league. This is a target area that needs a lot of improvement.
Typically a skillful defenseman QBs the powerplay. We expected Kaberle to be a Powerplay QB for us, but he didn't really come through with much. I expect Kaberle to be let go unless he accepts a serious paycut from his 4.25m salary.
2. Scoring winger. Mark Recchi is going to retire. The Bruins will also likely let Michael Ryder and his 20 goals walk out the door. Therefore a replacement winger is a need. Keeping in mind that the Bruins like their forwards to defend as well as score so we should focus on free agents who are good 2-way players.
Bruins' Recchi calls it a career after 3rd Cup - CBSSports.com
3. Skilled Center. The future of Marc Savard is uncertain. When healthy, he is capable of serving as a 1st line center. However he has suffered multiple concussions including one that knocked him out of participating in the playoffs. Savard hasn't been healthy in a while and at the age of 33, it is also uncertain if Savard can continue to produce at a high level.
Marc Savard's Situation Leaves Lingering Sadness Amid Bruins' Stanley Cup Celebration - Boston Bruins - NESN.com
4. 3rd string Goalie. The Bruins don't really have anyone behind Timmy Thomas and Tukka Rask waiting in Providence. At least not anybody with around a 90% save skill level who would be ready to step up right away. Expect the Bruins to sign a veteran netminder to serve this role.
Restricted and unrestricted free agent list for 2011/2012:
NHL free agents in 2011 and 2012 - ESPN
Lots of talent to choose from, but the Bruins must spend their money wisely to fit under the cap yet retain some flexibility for further moves down the road should they need it.
One possibility I could see happening is targeting Alexander Semin a year early.
NHL Trade Rumors: Is Trading Alexander Semin a Fix for the Capitals? | Bleacher Report
He isn't due for FA until 2012 but Washington is in need of cap relief, particularly if they want to resign their own young free agents such as Laich. Perhaps a deal could be offered to get Semin, a very talented winger who can fill the net and who has managed to stay on the plus side of the +/- ledger in three consecutive seasons.
Alexander Semin NHL & WHA Statistics | Hockey-Reference.com
A knock against Semin is that he doesn't play well when disinterested. But a move to a Stanley Cup contender should give this prolific winger all the motivation he needs!
Go ahead and give your thoughts on what free agents you think the Bruins should target.