While the Boston Bruins and their fans wait on decisions from centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, they’re suddenly being linked to unrestricted free agent center Nazem Kadri who as of early Thursday evening remained unsigned himself.
The Boston Bruins were one of seven teams listed by ESPN NHL insider Greg Wyshynski that the longtime Bruins nemesis could sign with before the 2022-23 regular season begins. Here’s what Wysh had to say on that possibility:
‘If we’re to believe the notion that Kadri is waiting for a team to clear space for his arrival, then the Bruins have to remain on the radar because he’s a potential fit as a center and a perfect fit as a pain in the posterior .
Patrice Bergeron’s return to the team would slot him at the No. 1 center spot. The Bruins have had discussions with David Krejci about a return to the club, one season after he left to play in the Czech Extraliga. Then there’s Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha in the middle, too, not to mention players like Jack Studnicka looking for ice time.
Finding room for Kadri would be difficult if Krejci returns as expected. Heck, finding money for either of them would still necessitate finding a taker for someone like Nick Foligno ($3.8 million AAV for one more season).
But Kadri adds a snarl and swagger that the Bruins lack outside of Brad Marchand. As dependable as Krejci is as a point-producing center — especially in the postseason — there are elements to Kadri’s game that Boston could really use in a No. 2.’
As you can see, there’s plenty of if’s in there and as stated, two of the biggest if’s there are what Bergeron and Krejci will do and when. The biggest if though, regardless of what the two longtime Boston Bruins centers decide to do, is where is Bruins general manager Don Sweeney going to find the cap space he’ll need. Per our friends at PuckPedia, the Boston Bruins had $2.3 million in cap space as of Thursday night. Clearly that’s not enough to even sign one of Bergeron or Krejci on a team-friendly, incentive-laden, one-year contract that Sweeney admitted he was pushing for earlier this month.
“Yeah, we’ll probably be a little more tilted, look at the performance side of things,” Sweeney said following the first day of free agency on July 13.
In that same press conference, Sweeney also said flat out that he wouldn’t be aggressive in trying to sign top UFA’s like Nazem Kadri.
“No, we’re not being aggressive,” Sweeney said when asked if they were in on any big name UFA’s at that point. “We’ve got a little bit of view to the back end, given a couple of our injuries, if something presents itself there. Some teams have asked about some of our players, so we’re staying in talks in that regard, so we’re not aggressively in the marketplace at this point.”
Numerous texts and phone calls by Boston Hockey Now to various and trusted NHL sources Thursday did not indicate anything had changed on that front. For now it’s status quo as the Bruins and their fans continue to wait on pins and needles for answers from Bergeron and Krejci.