So when it comes to determining what free agents the Bruins might be interested in during the summer of 2012, or what free agents they might lose, it’s virtually impossible.
Nonetheless, it’s worth looking at the list of pending UFAs to see who might be able to help the Bruins or any other contender during the 2011-12 season. Kevin Allen of USA Today compiled his list of top 10 UFAs for next summer, and there are a couple intriguing names worthy as potential “rental player” targets when the stretch run arrives.
Ryan Suter of Nashville tops Allen’s list. It’s unlikely the Predators will be looking to part with their stud No. 2 defenseman until they know what the new CBA will look like. There are some other younger, upper-talent-type players like Ales Hemsky and Alexander Semin on the list.
The name that intrigues me the most sits at No. 9 on Allen’s list — Phoenix right winger Shane Doan. Doan is a lifelong veteran of the Jets/Coyotes franchise and calls the shots on whether he’s dealt. Nonetheless, this is the offseason — which is the time to dream and project.
Imagine the Bruins are near the top of the Eastern Conference come the 2012 trade deadline, but they have some off nights and don’t always show that toughness they need to succeed. Off the ice, the effects of Mark Recchi’s retirement are evident. Some players are even a little complacent coming off the glory of last June and a short offseason.
Out West, Phoenix is a long shot to make the playoffs in the post-Ilya Bryzgalov era (not to mention the Coyotes’ ownership situations remains murky at best). Doan’s name will certainly come up in every rumor out there unless he signs an extension.
Doan will be 35 this October, so his chances at winning the Stanley Cup are dwindling. What better combination could there be than a veteran captain with desperation to win the Cup joining the defending champions, who might be feeling some effects of the “Cup hangover”? Doan might have to be coaxed a little bit to move East, but if the Coyotes are convinced that moving Doan is best for them, Boston as a two- to three-month temporary home would have to be an attractive location (as opposed to maybe four or five years ago). With Marc Savard’s cap space and some other creative maneuvering, the Bruins could make the deal happen and it wouldn’t have an impact on their 2012-13 plans.
It’s all a dream now. We’re still five weeks from training camp, never mind how far we are from the 2012 trade deadline. However, it’s never too early to look ahead, especially on a gloomy summer Sunday morning.