BOSTON (CBS) – Like most general managers around the NHL, Peter Chiarelli is ready for a busy couple of days ahead.
The Boston Bruins GM held a conference call on Wednesday, ahead of NHL free agency opening up at noon on Friday, and gave the media a picture of his master plan for the 2013 off-season.
While Chiarelli said he is “confident” a Tuukka Rask contract extension will get done soon — possibly by Friday — he is setting his sights on a number of right wingers, via free agency or trade, to help fill the void left by Nathan Horton’s departure.
“With Nathan gone, we have to look to our right side to see and assess how we are going to reconstruct the right side,” Chiarelli said Wednesday. “We got some players from within that may be able to fill. I want to do a sweep of these players that will be available in trades and free agency.”
“We are going to interview a few guys in the next couple days in this new interview period,” he said of the new window teams have to talk with free agents before the signing frenzy gets underway on Friday. “We got a couple of trades we’re looking at. It’s early on in the process. As for how far off the grid, I mean I’d like to think that we can be creative in filling these holes. We got a real good core. We plan to contend for a Cup again. I think we would attract some pretty good players too so it takes two sides to be creative.”
Chiarelli said he likes to think of the Bruins as an attractive destination for veteran players looking to win a Stanley Cup, something he couldn’t say when he took over in Boston back in 2006.
And while Chiarelli said last week they would not bring back Jaromir Jagr, that has changed a bit since Horton’s departure.
“You know, actually, we have thought of circling back,” he said of the 41-year-old Jagr — who recorded 10 assists in 22 playoff games with Boston last season. “We told him we were moving on so he may have moved on also. It’s something that we may revisit.”
“I’d like to go into this, when I talk about reconstructing the right side, maybe we can get some youth in there too in addition to an older guy,” added Chiarelli.
A few potential wingers that Boston could target include Devils’ free agent David Clarkson, former Bruin Michael Ryder, and veterans Danny Briere and, the guy who stood up Boston at the trade deadline, Jarome Iginla.
The 29-year-old Clarkson is the most appealing of the bunch, after he led the Devils with 15 goals in 2012-13. He has 93 goals and 73 assists during his seven-year career, with five goals in 44 playoff games — including three game-winners during New Jersey’s 2012 Stanley Cup run. He’s not as much as a scorer as Horton was, but is a physical player who isn’t afraid to drop the gloves if he has to.
Clarkson will likely command a pretty penny on the open market, which could price him out of the Bruins’ reach given their limited cap space (which is roughly $9.2 million prior to any Rask deal).
Another name that popped up during the conference call was Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, who is expected to rejoin the Senators. Chiarelli was asked if he had spoken to the 40-year-old about coming to Boston, but he declined to comment. Reports following the call say Chiarelli has been in touch with the winger, who has 1,108 points (426 goals, 682 assists) in 1,178 career games.
One area Chiarelli will not pursue during free agency is defense. He feels that Boston has plenty of young in-house options, with Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski showcasing their worth during the recent playoff run.
Free Agency is less than 48 hours away, and Peter Chiarelli has a full plate — and plan — ahead of him.