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What's Next For The Black & Gold

Photo Courtesy Of Winslow Townson

After what was an incredible season for the true boys of winter in the TD Garden, the obvious question standing at the door is where do they go from here? With 11 free agents-to-be, albeit most of which are depth pieces, names like Rick Nash, Nick Holden, Anton Khudobin, and shockingly Riley Nash cannot be ignored. However, for the most part, that is exactly what I am going to do - ignore them. Offensively, I believe the Bruins will continue to excel.  The combination of the powerhouse Line 1, veterans like Krejci and Backes, a full year of Ryan Donato, a year of growth for Jake Debrusk, and a fully healthy Anders Bjork, the offense should have an influx of scoring capabilities.

Matt Grzelcyk had himself a nice season this year, but there is only room for one undersized left-handed shot puck moving(ish) defenseman on this team. Yes, I am aware that Torey Krug has had back-to-back 50+ point seasons, however, 45% (49 of 110) of those points have come on the man advantage, which is the only reason why I believe he still has a spot on the roster. Krug slots perfectly into a third pairing, power play specialist type defender due to the fact he’s undersized and his lack luster ability to play... defense. The Bruins need to focus their attention on attempting to acquire a left shot defenseman to play on the second pairing with Brandon Carlo.

I would love to get wild with potential trade partners for the Bruins in saying Nick Leddy, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Noah Hanifan (Norwood, MA native), and Oscar Klefbom, but instead I decided to save everyone time and focus in on three upcoming unrestricted free agents that may fit the mold.

1. Jack Johnson.
For starters, if you have not heard about Jack Johnson's off the ice life, Google. It is certainly worth the read. Meanwhile, inside the rink, Johnson has averaged almost 23 minutes TOI over his career, has had two 40+ point seasons and, most importantly, he has played in at least 75 games in four of the last five seasons.  He will turn 32 in the middle of next season, which normally would be a concern, but with Jeremy Lauzon waiting in the wings, Johnson could provide a short term solution until Lauzon is ready for the bright lights.

2. Calvin de Haan.
Probably the best bang for your buck of the three that I am going to list because he did miss 50 games with a shoulder injury to end last season and could potentially come at a discount of what he had the potential of signing.  de Haan will not wow anyone with his offensive ability, but he is also not a slouch in the offensive zone, having accumulated 25 points and a +15 rating in the 2016-17 season. Add that to 190 blocked shots and 140 hits, the 27 year old is the best available, most well rounded, left handed shot on the upcoming free agent market. 

3. Nick Holden.
I put his name on the list out of spite. The way that Nick Holden was manged when he was traded to Boston for a 3rd pick and Rob O'Gara was abysmal and the Bruins probably burned the bridge as he sat on the 9th floor for most of the playoffs. Holden made a name for himself as a well rounded three zone type defenseman in Colorado before having a career year for the New York Rangers in 2016-17.  Holden posted 34 points, 30 of which came at even strength or short handed. He killed penalties, played on the power play, and was the second best defenseman that the Rangers had in their lineup. The mismanagement of Holden I'm sure left a sour taste in his mouth, but I would truly enjoy seeing him in the Black and Gold for an entire season.

 Bonus Player.
I, just like you and every other hockey fan in the world, also want John Carlson to suit up for the Bruins next year. Although a right handed shot, I would allow it if the Bruins signed Carlson (a Natick, MA native) and gave Kevan Miller the boot. Sadly, the financial commitment to Carlson is not something that the B's can afford in the long run if you want to keep players like Carlo, McAvoy, and DeBrusk. 

So for now we are stuck with Kevan Miller or Adam McQuaid on the right side but hopefully the Bruins do something to upgrade the left side of the ice in front of the goaltender.

For more, follow Mike on twitter: @mtraversBSoT

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