Grading the Bruins’ first week in free agency

With a top tier team and an aging core, it seems that the Bruins aren’t doing much in terms of making another push for the Stanley Cup. 

It was only a year ago that the Bruins were in the Stanley Cup Final, and despite being undisputed favorites, they were still upset by the St. Louis Blues. This year, after an even stronger regular season display, which got them the best record in the league, they were smothered by the eventual champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The common denominator in both series were that the Bruins had no answer to the physical play of either team. The Bruins have also struggled to find a premier scorer on the second line for years now, so entering free agency, physicality and scoring talent should’ve been at the top of the Bruins’ shopping list. This was a great year for the Bruins to find what they need, as optimal  free agents included star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and former league MVP Taylor Hall.

Free agency opened on Oct. 9, and it did not start well for the Bruins, as they lost longtime star defenseman Torey Krug to the St. Louis Blues. After rejecting a six-year deal with the Bruins worth $39.6 million, Krug signed with St. Louis for seven years and $45.5 million. The Bruins now had a gaping hole in the defense, but now that they didn’t have to pay Krug’s giant salary, many fans speculated they were saving for someone big. 

The Bruins made their first move the following day, signing Craig Smith from Nashville to a three year deal worth $3.1 million annually. Smith played for Nashville for eight seasons, and scored about 20 goals per season, making him a great third-line player. The problem with the signing is that the Bruins have more than enough depth players, so fans were still expecting bigger news to come. 

The blockbuster deal never came, as in the following days Taylor Hall signed with Buffalo and Pietrangelo signed with Vegas. Despite the disappointment, fans still had hope, as the Bruins still had a large amount of cap space. 

Even though they missed out on Hall and Pietrangelo, second-tier free agents such as Tyler Toffoli and Evgenii Dadonov were still on the market. That hope was shot down quickly, as Toffoli signed with the Montreal Canadiens and Dadanov signed with the Ottawa Senators.

The Bruins finally made their next moves on Oct. 14, yet none were moves that any fan wanted. Jakub Zboril was extended for two years, and the Bruins signed goalie Callum Booth and forward Greg McKegg to one-year minimum wage deals. These signings were geared toward their minor league team. 

The Bruins re-signed defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to a four-year deal on Saturday, but he  doesn’t come close to filling the void left by the departure of Krug. There is still one more big name free agent on the market, Mike Hoffman, who was previously with the Florida Panthers, but Bruins fans shouldn’t hold their breath. If the Bruins were going to sign a big name, it’s likely they would’ve done it by now, and they still have to re-sign players such as Jake DeBrusk and Zdeno Chára. 

As of now, the Bruins are failing the 2020 free agency game. So far, general manager Don Sweeney has worked the team into a deeper hole than where they started by failing to address the team’s most prominent issues, and instead has stocked up on what the Bruins already have and don’t need. As the Bruins have gotten weaker, Sweeney has also allowed many teams in their division to get stronger by allowing the big names to walk to rival cities. There is still time to turn the offseason around, but the pickings are only getting slimmer, so the Bruins need to take immediate action. 

Follow Jamie on Twitter @JamieTaris