Boston Bruins: 4 Biggest Needs Still to Be Addressed in Free Agency
The Boston Bruins still have needs to address in free agency, even though it seems unlikely that general manager Peter Chiarelli will add another player before training camp.
If most of the same team that lost in the first round of the playoffs last year is brought back, then the Bruins will have to hope that no significant players miss time with any injuries, because the team's depth isn't as strong as it used to be.
Chiarelli recently talked about the possibility of making new signings.
I think there’s a good chance that this will be our roster going into camp. I think there’s a good chance. There’s a lot of the summer left, there’s a lot of stuff that has to happen on a macro basis too.
I guess what I’m saying is, I think anything can happen depending on how things unfold, but there’s a good chance that this will be our roster going into the training camp.
Let's look at four areas of the Bruins roster that Chiarelli still needs to address in free agency.
All quotes obtained from the Bruins media website.
Nathan Horton Insurance
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Bruins fans received some good news last week regarding Nathan Horton's concussion recovery when general manager Peter Chiarelli announced that the forward will be ready for training camp.
I haven’t talked to our training staff lately, but Nathan Horton has been cleared for contact and by all accounts from our medical staff will be ready to play when it comes time to play.
Now that Alexander Semin has signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes, there aren't anymore top-six forwards that the Bruins could sign to replace Horton in the event he gets hurt. Yes, Shane Doan is still available, but him signing with the Bruins at this point seems highly unrealistic.
As their roster currently stands now, the only way that the Bruins could replace Horton if he suffered another concussion would be to move a winger such as Rich Peverley or Tyler Seguin to the top line.
If that were to happen, the second or third line would need a winger, and a young player already on the team like Jordan Caron wouldn't be a suitable replacement.
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Tim Thomas' departure from the team has left the Bruins to rely on two young goaltenders for the upcoming season.
The abdomen/groin injury that starting goalie Tuukka Rask suffered in March shouldn't be an issue going into next season, but if he does get hurt at any point this year, the team doesn't have a veteran backup to step in.
Right now, the backup is 26-year-old Anton Khudobin, who has just six games of NHL experience. Most of his career has been spent in the AHL.
Chiarelli would be wise to look at one of the veteran goaltenders still left on the free-agent market, and Dwayne Roloson is one player worth looking at.
Bruins fans will remember Roloson from the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals when the black and gold defeated Roloson and the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Bruins defensive style of hockey would prevent Roloson from facing as many shots as he did in Tampa Bay last year. Even though he will be 43 years old in October, Roloson would be able to give the Bruins a chance to win games if they had to look for a goalie because of an injury to Rask.
Right now, the Bruins don't have to sign a veteran defenseman before next season, but there are some possible scenarios that could create a need for this type of player.
The Bruins do have several young AHL defensemen in Providence that could step into the NHL and have success, but the ideal situation would be to have a veteran that can play important minutes on the second or third pairings late in the season and in the playoffs.
Let's look at three possible scenarios that could force the Bruins to sign a veteran blueliner..
Dougie Hamilton Doesn't Impress
In the unlikely event that young defenseman Dougie Hamilton does not play well in training camp and/or the beginning of the regular season, the Bruins could decide to send him back to junior hockey and look for a veteran to replace him.
If the NHL does have a lockout for past of the upcoming season, Hamilton might be able to go back to the CHL so he can continue to develop his skills and not have to miss games like the NHL players.
This scenario is probably unlikely, but if Hamilton were to go back to junior hockey, then Chiarelli would need a veteran.
Adam McQuaid's Health
When Chiarelli had health updates on some key players last week, he shared some positive news on the status of defenseman Adam McQuaid, saying that he is "completely cleared."
McQuaid suffered a concussion last season when he was checked along the end boards by Washington Capitals forward Jason Chimera in a late regular season game. He didn't play in the playoffs, and even though he's been cleared to play, one hit could knock him out for a large number of games next season.
If he were to get hurt, the Bruins would need a physical veteran to replace McQuaid on the third pairing.
When you look at the top contenders for the Stanley Cup going into next year, the Bruins probably have the least amount of speed among those teams.
We all know that Boston has plenty of size up and down its roster, but only young forward Tyler Seguin has elite/game-breaking speed.
Adding some more speed would make the Bruins more difficult to defend on the power play and in even strength situations.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren't many free agents available that have top-tier speed. Finding more speed will probably have to be added through the trade market.
This isn't a huge problem for the Bruins, but it's an area of the team that could certainly improve before next season.