It’s no secret Don Sweeney and the Bruins have their work out for them this free agent frenzy.
Even after dumping Taylor Hall on the Blackhawks and following through with an almost merciful buyout of Mike Reilly’s contract, the Bruins are set to begin July with just $13.6 million in cap space. And that’s with just six forwards, six defensemen, and one goalie signed to the NHL roster for the 2023-24 season. Break it down per vacancy, and the Bruins have about $1.5 million to spend per player should they go with a standard 13-forward, seven-defenseman, two-goalie roster complexion.
In other words, the Bruins are going to have to hunt for deals this summer, and Sweeney knows it.
“I think the one thing that we’re going to have a tougher time, unless I make a subsequent move, would be to chase the upper end of the marketplace,” Sweeney admitted. “Both from a term and dollars standpoint, I think that’s the simplest way I can describe it, but we are going to find some guys that can slot in and bring a boost to our hockey club in different ways.”
What’s actually interesting about this is that the Bruins are not alone when it comes to their needs for bargain-bin additions. In fact, their $13.6 million in cap space is actually the 12th-most ahead of the start of free agency. That speaks to the crunch the entire league is feeling after the salary cap went up a meager $1 million for the 2023-24 season, sure, but it’s also just a tad misleading given the amount of bodies the Bruins need to fill on their roster.
For the Bruins, the search for help will be conducted high and low, and will almost have to come with options that are less than ideal on the surface. And the options will certain be a far cry from that of the Bruins’ in-house pending free agents they wish they could re-sign, be it a Tyler Bertuzzi or Dmitry Orlov type of talent.
So, who could be on their radar when free agency officially begins later today?
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has been covering the Bruins since 2010, and has been a member of the Boston chapter of the PHWA since 2013. 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.