Cole

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is already on record as saying he wont’ be pursuing any big-name free agent come July 1.

Should Chiarelli change his mind and decide he wants to upgrade his corps of top-six forwards, there’s another attractive option who’ll hit the open market Friday.

Yesterday I expressed my desire to see the Bruins go after former Nashville forward Steve Sullivan. Later last night, however, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reported that Carolina winger Erik Cole is going to test the waters. Cole would be a perfect fit in Boston, if the Bruins decided they needed to make a little bit of a splash.

Cole is 32 and coming off a 26-goal season, which included nine game-winning goals. He figures to be in line for a raise on his $3 million contract — not to mention he probably wants the security of a three- or four-year deal. But he might be worth the Bruins maneuvering to squeeze him in. He’s a rugged forward who puts his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame to use and he has championship experience from the ’06 Hurricanes. Obviously all the Bruins now have championship experience, but it never hurts to add some more.

Getting Brad Marchand’s RFA deal done and adding Cole would probably require the Bruins to move at least one of their seven-figure, bottom-six forwards. When you consider that Tyler Seguin will be in line for more ice time next season and Jordan Caron (not to mention another prospect or two) is probably ready to take a step up to the NHL, a bottom-six forward making north of a million would probably be expendable.

There are teams with a lot more cap space and opportunity to play than the Bruins for Cole to consider. Maybe the thought of defending the Cup would appeal to him, not to mention he’d probably have a decent role in Boston with at least top-nine minutes and plenty of opportunity to try to revive the power play.

Chiarelli’s probably leaning more toward a second-tier free agent to come to camp and compete with some of his young players for a forward spot. To me, Cole’s the type of attractive free agent that at least makes one consider changing that approach.