At this point, near the two-week mark of the NHL’s free agency period, that may be the best the Bruins can pursue. They presently only have 11 reliable forwards signed on for the 2012-13 season with the recovering Nathan Horton plus rising rookies Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner all bearing question marks.
Bruins buffs are perfectly entitled to question general manager Peter Chiarelli’s lack of action to pursue an offensive booster. The likes of Ray Whitney, Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne all could have delivered what Boston needed most, but all are no longer available.
Where does all this leave the Bruins, assuming they want to keep their core and rising stock of prospects intact and thus eschew a trade for immediate insurance?
There is still the 39-year-old Rolston, who has played his last 28 NHL games in Boston attire after coming over at the trade deadline.
Although there are other seasoned, free-agent forwards still on the market―albeit not as potentially prolific as Whitney, Jagr, Selanne or Doan―Rolston has the benefit of having just spent two months in the Bruins’ dressing room.
One would like to think that would make him compatible with Chiarelli’s incredibly conservative approach.
When he was last heard from in early May, in an interview with the Bruins’ website, Rolston seemed to indicate nothing short of a wish to return to the team and help replenish its persona as a Stanley Cup contender.
Rolston will not be the solution to the Bruins’ needs on the power play or the top echelon of the depth chart in any scenario. Nonetheless, whether it was an improved supporting cast, a replenished sense of confidence and desire or a combination of both, there is no denying his recent scoring surge upon coming to Boston from the Islanders.
Rolston tallied a 4-5-9 scoring log in 49 games on Long Island, followed by a 3-12-15 run in 21 regular-season outings with the Bruins. He added a point in each of the first three playoff games, then went cold with virtually the rest of the team en route to a first-round, Game 7 loss to the Washington Capitals.
That loss, though, only ought to rekindle the hunger among the holdovers from the 2011 championship as well as the likes of Rolston, who has had no reckonable postseason runs since winning the Cup as a rookie in 1995.
Who is to say he cannot build on that post-trade flurry and at least help to embolden the third line through the full length of 2012-13?
In addition, age-wise, Rolston is an ideal short-term fit to pitch in for one or two years before presumably retiring. By that point, the likes of Knight and Spooner should both be ready to make ripples after some valuable fostering in Providence and periodic seasoning in The Show.
The primal caveat here comes from Rolston’s mere absence in the news of late.
As recently as June 13, as phrased by csnne.com reporter Joe Haggerty, “Chiarelli has already stated there won’t be any discussions about Brian Rolston until after the July 1 opening of NHL free agency.”
Well, that opening occurred nearly two weeks ago and it’s pretty quiet on the Rolston front.
Still, if the second-term Bruin wants to return and contribute, he should be given that chance. His added veteran presence is far better than no added personnel for this team.
All it would take is a pay cut off of Rolston’s previous cap hit and to place Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve.