Boston Bruins: Free Agency 2020 Secondary-Scoring Options

Like the iceberg that sunk the Titanic, secondary scoring was an obstacle that most of, if not all of us, saw as a major threat to prolonging the Boston Bruins’ season. Anchored by Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and David Krecji, the Bruins utilized its experience to outmaneuver the Carolina Hurricanes, but could hardly make a dent in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s armor. Occasional contributions from Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle proved just how thin Boston really was outside of its top line. Addressing this issue won’t be easy or cost-efficient and considering the Stanley Cup is yet to be awarded, situations are bound to change.

Bruins’ general manager Don Sweeney even mentioned a desire to “make some changes to our group” in one of his more recent media appearances. Sweeney would be the wiser to avoid a David Backes-esque contract given the flat cap this year and next. However with no obvious solutions in house, a potential fall out with Torey Krug on the horizon, and a closing championship window may force him to play his hand.

Luckily Boston’s options range from low-risk, high-reward to summer of 2016 levels of incompetency which are broken down by not so subtle categories.

Category 1- Money That Won’t Sink the Ship

Jesper Fast– A coach’s best friend, Jesper’s track record proves his ability to climb the depth chart as well as slide-in wherever he is needed.

Playing alongside Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin for the bulk of this most recent campaign will account for a spike in offensive production, 29 points, his best since 2017-18, but an opportunity to contribute when in a top-six role will make Jesper a very intriguing option for the Bruins. Fast takes pride in his defensively sound style and as an addition to Krejci’s line would provide the centerman with less of a defensive burden and more time to channel his offensive side which should reflect positively on DeBrusk. A career Corsi of 47.6 falls just shy of the preferred 50% mark but certainly should not be a deal-breaker. Bear in mind that more time with the puck on Krejci’s stick is never a bad thing. Standing at 6 foot 1 and 192 pounds means Fast brings size but does not forfeit any speed. Fast and his agent will be seeking a contract north of his current $1.9-million dollar deal, but at just 28, Boston giving a more tenured three-year $2.3 to $5 million AAV contract may just be enough to pry him out of the big apple.

 

Craig Smith– A proven 20-goal scorer who set a career-high with 25 goals in 2017-18, Smith possesses a slightly larger frame at 6 foot 1 and 208 pounds than Fast. He also has a more impressive career Corsi of 59.5. Smith is the elder statesman of this group at 31 but hardly has anything to show for in the injury department. Consistency is key, a trait Smith provides in spades and will have to justify a larger AAV should Boston choose to pursue him. Nashville needs cap flexibility to re-sign Mikael Granlund, which could result in Smith becoming the odd man out. Coming off his five-year $4.25 million AAV deal, Smith very well could command similar dollars, but age could dictate his market value. Considering Boston has cap woes themselves anything south of $four million AAV would be an excellent signing.

Category 2- More Dollars Mean More Production, Right?

Evgenii Dadonov– Since returning from a stint with the KHL back in 2017-18 only 10 right-wingers in the NHL have more points than Dadonov. Just two seasons ago, we saw his high watermark tally of 70.

Despite a noticeable downtick in production this past year where Dadonov managed just 47 points he would have landed fifth in Bruins scoring ahead of Krejci, Coyle and DeBrusk. Thus, qualifying himself as a viable secondary scoring option even at his statistical worst. Corsi is another favorable metric for Dadonov at 52.3 for his career which further emphasizes how valuable a contributor he can be. Florida isn’t in dire straits when it comes to cap space, especially when you consider their big three of Alexander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad are already locked under contract. They do, however, have $10 million invested in their goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky for the next six seasons.

Perhaps Florida turns him loose.

It wouldn’t come cheap, but it would be a quick fix to Bostons secondary scoring woes. Considering his last contact was for three years at $4 million AAV, where will the 31-year-old Dadonov fit best? Taking equal or less money all but ensures he will compete with a contender, going to the highest bidder will result in a long winter likely in Western New York. Expect an Iginla-like prove it contract from Boston, one year, $5 million with incentives for production and games played.

Tyler Toffoli- Developing in a defense-first-and-everything-else-second system under Darryl Sutter almost makes you forget how important Toffoli was for generating offense in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for him, circumstance dictated a trade to Vancouver at this year’s deadline.

For the Canucks, Toffoli appeared in ten regular-season games and was a point per game player. Undoubtedly too small of a sample size to make an accurate assessment on, but the offensive upside is all but apparent, backed up by a 55.9 Corsi in his career. Much like Dadonov, Toffoli is coming off a three-year deal with an AAV of $4.6 million, which is fair money for a player who only once eclipsed the 30-goal mark. A 28-year-old right-wing with scoring flair and championship experience could be exactly what the doctor ordered to remedy Boston’s unproductive playoff run. An incentive-laden four-year deal carrying a cap hit of $4.5 million dollars should be enough to entice Toffoli considering it will be the first time since Jeff Carter left LA that he will have a competent center on his line.

Category three consists of “come as you are cheap UFAs to keep a watchful eye on” including Conor Sheary, Tyler Ennis, Corey Perry and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Joe Russo

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