Boston Bruins

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 27: Jeremy Lauzon #55 of the Boston Bruins looks on in the second period during their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on April 27, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney didn’t shock anybody with his protection list.

But that decision to go with the seven-forward, three-defenseman (and one goalie) protection plan has put 29 Bruins on the table for the Seattle Kraken. And the options for the Kraken ahead of Wednesday’s expansion draft range from legit NHL pieces (some of whom played significant roles for the Bruins this past season) to long-departed prospects that simply didn’t work.

Like most teams, the B’s maximized their protection slots with contracts that expired in 2021, with their list including 11 pending unrestricted free agents, as well as two NHL restricted free agents. That said, it’s worth mentioning that the pending unrestricted free agents could have value to the Kraken, as they have an exclusive negotiating window with those players until the expansion draft, and the Kraken signing any of those players would see them emerge as their pick from the Bruins.

Here’s a complete list of who will be available when the Kraken look over their Boston options…

Mar 10, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

Forwards (17)

Anton Blidh: A 6-foot, 201-pound winger, the 26-year-old Blidh appeared in 10 games with the Big B’s last year, and compiled one goal on 10 shots and 25 hits while averaging 10:48 of time on ice per night. Drafted by the Bruins with a sixth-round pick in 2013, Blidh has appeared in 38 NHL games with Boston over the last five years, with two goals and an assist to go with 95 hits and 14 blocked shots. Blidh signed a one-year, two-way contract worth $750,000 earlier this summer.

Paul Carey: A pending unrestricted free agent, the 32-year-old Carey appeared in three games with the Big B’s since coming to his hometown team in 2019, and totaled 48 goals and 86 points in 112 games with the P-Bruins over the last three seasons.

Peter Cehlarik: On North American ice for four years, Cehlarik departed the B’s organization to play the 2020-21 season with Leksands IF (Sweden), and shined with 20 goals and 40 points in 45 games. Cehlarik built on that with a solid World Championships run with Slovakia, with five goals and 11 points in eight games, and signed with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk for next season. Cehlarik was last seen ripping Bruce Cassidy for the way he handled his playing time in Boston.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson: Another prospect who decided to head back overseas, ‘JFK’ put up five goals and 13 points in 50 games between the Swedish Hockey League’s Vaxjo HC and Farjestads BK Karlstad in 2020-21.

Taylor Hall: The word is that the Bruins and Hall, a pending unrestricted free agent, want to stick together, and that they’re not far apart when it comes to hammering out a new deal. Maximizing the Bruins’ protection list may be the biggest (and perhaps only) reason Hall has yet to sign on the dotted line. Hall totaled eight goals and 14 points in 16 regular-season games with the Bruins following his deadline eve trade from Buffalo to Boston.

Cameron Hughes: The 24-year-old Hughes signed a two-way deal earlier this month, and is coming off a 2020-21 AHL campaign that included five goals and 21 points in 25 games. Hughes, who projects as a fourth-line energy type if he’s to make an NHL impact, has appeared in two NHL games over the last two years.

Ondrej Kase: One of Boston’s restricted free agents, Kase appeared in just three games in 2021, and two of them featured early exits due to concussion issues. Concussions have been a problem for Kase throughout his NHL career, and he will not be offered a qualifying offer by the Bruins.

Alex Khokhlachev: It’s been five years since Khokhlachev left North American ice to return to Russia. He’s carved out a solid career for himself in the KHL, too, with 67 goals and 163 points in 246 games over the last five seasons.

Joona Koppanen: A 6-foot-6 forward, Koppanen has scored 16 goals and totaled 28 points in 119 games with Providence since the start of the 2017-18 season.

David Krejci: Another pending unrestricted free agent, it’s clearly Boston or the Czech Republic or bust for David Krejci.

Karson Kuhlman: The Minnesota product scored two goals in 20 games this season, and has compiled six goals and 13 points in 56 career NHL games. Kuhlman is signed at $725,000 for 2021-22 and will be an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent at the end of that deal. Depending on how the Kraken build their roster (read as: if they take a gamble on some of the higher-priced players left exposed), Kuhlman could be a solid addition for their bottom-six forward group.

Sean Kuraly: Acquired from San Jose in the Martin Jones deal back in 2015 and a pending free agent this summer, Kuraly’s Bruins tenure is almost certainly over after a 270-game run as Boston’s fourth-line motor. The 28-year-old Kuraly has reportedly drawn interest from the Canucks ahead of the start of free agency.

Curtis Lazar: Signed at an affordable $800,000 for 2021-22, Lazar is available following a post-deadline Bruins run that saw him score two goals and four points, and rack up 35 hits, in 17 games as the Black and Gold’s fourth-line pivot. The 26-year-old was a first-round pick (No. 17 overall) of the Senators back in 2013.

Greg McKegg: One of the best names in hockey, McKegg spent the majority of the 2021 campaign on Boston’s taxi squad, but stuffed the stat sheet with one goal, seven hits, four shots, and wins in 20 of his 33 faceoffs in five games with the Bruins. Overall, McKegg has 19 goals and 34 points in 190 games between seven different NHL franchises since the 2013-14 season.

Nick Ritchie: A restricted free agent in need of a new deal, Ritchie’s 2021 included a career-high 15 goals (and career-high five power-play goals and nine power-play points), but his postseason certainly left you wanting more, with just one goal and four points, as well as some noticeable pacing issues in both rounds.

Zach Senyshyn: The No. 15 overall pick from the 2015 NHL Draft, Senyshyn has yet to carve out a full-time role with the Big B’s, and had seven goals and 13 points in 18 games with the P-Bruins this past season.

Chris Wagner: Entering the second year of a three-year, $4.05 million extension inked in 2019, Wagner struggled to the tune of just two goals and five points in 41 games this past season. The Walpole, Mass. native has 20 goals, 34 points, and 514 hits in 184 games with the Bruins over the last three seasons.

Nov 26, 2018; Toronto, Ontario: Boston Bruins defenceman Connor Clifton shoots the puck against Toronto Maple Leafs in the first period at Scotiabank Arena. (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Nov 26, 2018; Toronto, Ontario: Boston Bruins defenceman Connor Clifton shoots the puck against Toronto Maple Leafs in the first period at Scotiabank Arena. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

Defensemen (9)

Linus Arnesson: The No. 60 overall pick from the 2013 NHL Draft, Arnesson left North America following the 2016-17 season, and has spent the last four years playing his native Sweden. Arnesson put up five assists and was a minus-12 in 44 games for Farjestads BK Karlstad this past season.

Connor Clifton: The 5-foot-11 Clifton is a right-shot defenseman who can play both sides and put up a career-high seven points and plus-10 rating in 2021. He’s also signed for another two seasons at $1 million per year, and has appeared in 36 career playoff games by the age of 26. Not bad for a guy who broke into the league less than three calendar years ago.

Steven Kampfer: Not sure the Kraken are going to have a ton of interest here, to be honest, as Kampfer is set to join the KHL’s Ak Bars Kazan for the 2021-22 season.

Jeremy Lauzon: Boston’s top left-side killer following the team’s decision to move on from Zdeno Chara, the 6-foot-2 Lauzon established career-bests in games (41), points (eight), plus-minus (plus-8), hits (98), blocks (53), and time on ice (18:43 per night) in 2021. The 24-year-old is signed at $850,000 for next season.

Kevan Miller: Miller announced his retirement last week, so, yeah.

John Moore: Signed to a five-year deal worth almost $14 million back in 2018, Moore has appeared in just 90 games with the Bruins since signing that deal, and underwent season-ending hip surgery after playing in just five games this past season.

Mike Reilly: 2021 was a career-year for Reilly, with 27 points (all assists) in 55 games between the Sens and Bruins. The 28-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent in a market full of defensemen set to get paid, too.

Jarred Tinordi: A waiver wire pickup when the Bruins were absolutely wrecked by injuries, Tinordi put up  one assist, 44 hits, and 19 blocked shots in 14 appearances with the Bruins. He also appeared in four playoff games for the Bruins. He is also a pending unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Jakub Zboril: Boston’s top draft pick from the 2015 NHL Draft, Zboril jumped into the mix as a full-time NHLer in 2021, but failed to lock down a spot, as his playing time went out the window following the B’s acquisition of Mike Reilly. The 24-year-old Zboril had nine assists (two of which came on the man advantage) and averaged 17:03 per night in his 42-game sample this past season. Zboril is signed at $725,000 for 2021-22 and will be an arbitration-eligible free agent at the end of that deal.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 01: Jaroslav Halak #41 of the Boston Bruins tends the net against the Washington Capitals during the second period at Capital One Arena on February 01, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Goaltenders (3)

Callum Booth: Boston’s taxi squad goaltender for almost all of 2021, the 6-foot-4 Booth appeared in one game this past season, and stopped 36-of-38 shots in that contest, a Mar. 15 P-Bruins win over Bridgeport.

Jaroslav Halak: The veteran Halak, who lost his backup job to the simply undeniable Jeremy Swayman down the stretch, is not returning to Boston in 2021-22. But he wants to stay in the NHL.

Tuukka Rask: Out until at least January with hip surgery a requirement after finishing last season at less than 100 percent, the 34-year-old Rask will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason for the first time in his career, but he has already made it known that Boston is the only place he’s going to play.


Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.