Five Potential Free Agent Centers For The Boston Bruins

Five Potential Free Agent Centers For The Boston Bruins

Some would say that the Boston Bruins overachieved this past season by reaching the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Many pundits had the Bruins fighting for a playoff spot, but instead, Boston managed to finish second in the Atlantic Division, missing out on a division title by just one point. Heading into this offseason, the Bruins have roughly 21 million dollars to spend and the possibility of trading goaltender Linus Ullmark to free up another five million. To say this is an important summer for Boston would be an understatement. A few shrewd moves could put the Bruins back into Stanley Cup contention.

So what should Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney do with the extra money and resources? Here is a list of five possible fits at center for the Bruins from a group of unrestricted free agents around the league:

Steven Stamkos (34) Center – Tampa Bay Lightning

Stamkos is headed for a Hall of Fame induction when he is finished with hockey. The first overall draft pick in 2008 had another stellar season and showed no signs of declining, with 40 goals and 41 assists in 79 games. Stamkos also scored five goals in the five-game series with Florida. The center was playing primarily wing at times this past season but could help the fill Bruins’ void at the pivot and provide the offense the team desperately needs. Just picture Stamkos with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. What would a contract look like? It could be a three-year deal for maybe $7-$8 million per season. There will be other suitors. The Bruins should at least inquire.

Matt Duchene (33) Center – Dallas Stars

Duchene has had a bit of a roller-coaster career. The Dallas Stars are his fifth team after being bought out by the Nashville Predators last offseason. This has been a big bounce-back year for Duchene who scored 25 goals in the regular season and is now in the Western Conference Final with Dallas. Overall, Duchene is a good offensive player with over 800 career regular-season points. The Bruins might be able to get the third overall pick in 2009 for cheaper than Stamkos. This might be a sneaky good move for Boston.

Elias Lindholm (29) Center – Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm has been a topic for discussion with the Bruins in the past as Boston put feelers out on the two-way center before the trade deadline. Lindholm scored 42 goals two years ago but has seen his offensive production decline since. However, the Vancouver Canucks forward is a Selke-caliber defensive center and could fit nicely with Boston’s 200-foot game philosophy. If the price for Lindholm is somewhere between Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle (about $5 million), then the Bruins might take a good hard look.

Chandler Stephenson (30) Center – Vegas Golden Knights

Stephenson could be an under-the-radar find for Boston. The third-round pick in 2012 is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and scored 10 goals in last season’s Cup run with Vegas. The 6-foot, 210-pound forward had 51 points this season after totaling 64 and 65 each of the last two campaigns. Stephenson’s salary cap hit was just $2.75 for the last four seasons and should be up for a small raise. The Bruins could look to Stephenson has a less expensive option who brings Stanley Cup experience.

Sean Monahan (30) Center – Winnipeg Jets

The sixth overall draft pick in 2013 had a nice comeback season with 26 total goals with two teams after injuries kept his production down the last three years. Monahan is a talented offensive player with great hands who can be the playmaker the Bruins currently miss. This past season, Monahan played for a cap hit that was slightly less than $2 million. His injury history could hamper long-term commitment from suitors, but the 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward might be worth a small risk. If the Bruins can sign Monahan to a deal similar to Trent Frederic (2 years, $4.6 million), that might end up being a steal.

There is no question that center is a position of need for Boston. Zacha and Coyle are solid options, but a playmaking, top-six center is needed. Unless young prospects Matt Poitras and Georgii Merkulov can step into that role, Boston will need a stopgap for a season or two.

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