The NHL free-agent signing period will open on Saturday at 12 p.m ET, and for Boston Bruins fans looking for general manager Don Sweeney to take this team over the hump, there are some wild names being connected with Boston in the rumor mill.
The Bruins' draft last weekend was safe and vanilla, without the wheeling and dealing fans may have expected or hoped for given Boston's assets, but at least it didn't swing the other direction.
The team tried to deal the first-round pick, but as president Cam Neely said after the fact, "in the conversations we had, the asking price was a little higher than we were willing to go," according to Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald.
But perhaps free agency will hold a little more dazzle for the B's. Let's take a look at some of the buzz surrounding names Boston reportedly has written down in their notebook ahead of Saturday's action.
Defenseman Marco Scandella
The Bruins didn't walk away from the NHL draft with the left-shot defenseman they so badly need to complement Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug, and the pressure is on for Sweeney to land such a player in free agency.
According to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports, Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella could just be that player:
The Bruins were linked to Scandella at the draft, as Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald pointed out, but nothing happened.
But it's hard to imagine that Sweeney and Chuck Fletcher, a fellow Harvard graduate and the Wild general manager, haven't been in discussions about a player who best fits what the Bruins need right now. The 27-year-old scored 13 points in 71 games last season with a minus-two rating while playing 18 minutes, 20 seconds, per game.
And Fletcher is looking to create a little more cap room than the Wild has had the last few years, per Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe.
Offloading Scandella's remaining three-year, $4 million per year deal would certainly accomplish that, though, of course, Boston has to be willing to make that commitment in the name of improving its blue line.
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk
If acquiring Scandella is a somewhat reasonable prospect, signing fellow defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk seems like an all-out pipe dream. The 28-year-old has scored at least 43 points in five of the last six seasons (the exception in a strike-shortened 2012-13 season).
But TSN's Pierre McGuire mentioned that very move as a serious possibility on TSN Radio, and it's kind of blowing Bruins fans' minds:
It's no secret that the B's organization has long been fans of Shattenkirk's.
The Bruins were highly interested in trading for the former St. Louis Blues defender back in 2016, but ultimately the cost was a non-starter for Sweeney, as St. Louis wanted both of Boston's first-round picks as well as winger David Pastrnak.
"The acquisition cost was high," Sweeney had told reporters at the time, per CBS Boston, to justify his lack of big moves.
But can the B's make it work with Shattenkirk in 2017?
Per Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post, it's unlikely that Shattenkirk will be back with the Washington Capitals in 2017; the Caps traded for him "as a rental player to help their postseason run," and Washington has salary cap woes with six restricted free agents and five unrestricted ones.
Now, it could be the Bruins' turn to rent. But such a move could be costly for Boston's future; the Bruins have a nice group of A-level prospects whose futures with the team could be put in jeopardy, let alone the veteran contracts the team would potentially have to move.