The Bruins’ quest to find a minute-eating, left-shot defenseman may lead them to the desert, with the Bruins mentioned in the top three ‘most likely’ options for free agent defender Alex Goligoski, according to Coyotes beat reporter Craig Morgan.
My understanding is that Boston, Minnesota and the New York Islanders are the most likely options for free-agent defenseman Alex Goligoski.— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) July 27, 2021
Goligoski, who turns 36 later this week, is coming off a 2021 campaign that included three goals and 22 points, along with 23:00 of nightly time on ice, in 56 games with Arizona. With a plus-2 rating, Goligoski was also one of just three Coyotes to finish the year in the black for the Yotes, and his plus-10 rating over the last two season is tops among all Arizona skaters.
One of 56 defensemen to log at least 2,000 five-on-five minutes over the last two seasons, Goligoski’s plus-12 goal differential at five-on-five ranks him 18th in goals-for percentage (53.13 percent). This is while being on ice for the seventh-most scoring chances against per 60 (28.68) among that same group of 56, too. There’s an element of good luck in there, of course, but there may be a legitimate hope that a more stabilized system in Boston could bring the best out of Goligoski’s game.
It would certainly help that Goligoski is an all-situational player, too, with that aforementioned 23 minutes and his 2:56 of shorthanded time on ice per game last year ranking second among all Arizona defensemen. The latter is of considerable importance to the Bruins following Jeremy Lauzon’s move to Seattle, too.
Goligoski doesn’t have the size element of a Lauzon — Goligoski is listed at 5-foot-11 compared to Lauzon’s 6-foot-2 frame — but Goligoski had similar effectiveness when down a man, with 10.22 blocked shots per 60 of shorthanded time on ice, which is three blocks more than Lauzon’s 7.2, this past year.
And similar to Ryan Suter, who will not be signing with the Bruins as he reportedly seeks a four-year deal after his buyout from the Wild, Goligoski has been a model of durability, with just 13 games missed since the start of the 2013 season. That should be of significant interest to the Bruins when considering their recent (and constant) issues with their blue line’s health.
A second-round pick of the Penguins back in 2004, the Minnesota-born Goligoski has totaled 83 goals and 429 points in 924 NHL games between three organizations since 2007-08, and has seven goals and 21 points in 43 career playoff games.
The Bruins, as currently built, have just three NHL defensemen signed to their left side for 2021-22, with Matt Grzelcyk, Jakub Zboril, and Johnny Moore on their roster. 2017 first-round Urho Vaakanainen, who has appeared in 16 games over the last three seasons, could also be a contender for a role on the 2021-22 squad with a strong training camp performance.
The Bruins will have over $20 million in cap space following the decision not to qualify Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase.
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.