Ahead of the noontime open for NHL free agency, the Boston Bruins are expected to come away with at least a player or two with considerable NHL experience. One could be a veteran goaltender expected to be paired with rookie Jeremy Swayman as Tuukka Rask recuperates from hip surgery, and another could be a veteran forward with experience capable of bringing presence to the bottom-6 forward group.
One player the Bruins are definitely in on, per a hockey source, is 36-year-old Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf if he opts to leave the Ducks via free agency.
The Bruins certainly won’t be the only NHL club in the market for Getzlaf if he decides to leave Anaheim after a distinguished 16-season run with the Ducks, but a B’s group going “all in” next season would make sense for the former Cup winner.
While Getzlaf’s days of being a top line center are clearly behind him, the 6-foot-3, 228-pounder brings size, toughness, Stanley Cup experience and a player that brings a little more presence to a bottom-6 group that consistently hasn’t brought enough during the playoffs the last couple of years. Certainly, the Boston Bruins are looking for something different from their bottom-6 forward group for next season after allowing players like Nick Ritchie and Sean Kuraly to walk in free agency.
Even better, Getzlaf is versatile and skilled enough to play top-6 when needed and absolutely could fill in as a net-front presence on the power play after Nick Ritchie is expected to move on when he wasn’t tendered a qualifying offer earlier this week.
Getzlaf had five goals and 17 points along with a minus-14 in 48 games for the Ducks last season, and clearly isn’t as explosive or productive as he was in his prime days when he could hit 20 goals or 80 points for Stanley Cup-caliber Ducks teams. But he also could be effective in a specific role for the Black and Gold just as his former linemate Corey Perry was on the fourth line for the Montreal Canadiens this past season.
It certainly makes more sense from Getzlaf’s perspective to come play for a Cup contender like the Bruins rather than continue toiling as captain of a young, rebuilding Ducks group that’s far away from even being a playoff team. The B’s will be simultaneously wooing players like Getzlaf while looking to add onto a defensemen group that still needs an NHL-caliber body or two during the offseason.