The Boston Bruins have made a splash in free agency, and they’re not afraid to let go of a few players.
So who are they bringing in for the long haul?
Mattias Ekholm, Alex Pietrangelo, Brendan Gallagher, and the return of defenseman Chris Kelly.
The Bruins acquired the right-handed Ekholm in a blockbuster trade with the Calgary Flames in late December, and he’s already put up 12 points in 36 games with the club.
That’s been good enough for second-team All-Star honors and a spot on the NHL’s top power play unit.
The 21-year-old Ekholm will play with his new teammates in Montreal on Monday, but he’s also had an interesting offseason in terms of playing time.
He’s been playing the role of the young stud on a team that won’t have much of a need for the right winger this season, so he could find himself in a role where he’s used as a regular player on the power play.
Ekholm is an offensive-minded defenseman who can make plays on the puck, but the Bruins also have plenty of offensive depth on the blueline, and if they’re going to rely on him to make plays, they’ll need a guy to do so with regularity.
While Ekholm has shown flashes of being able to produce offensively at the AHL level, it’s a bit of a different beast for him in the NHL, where he has to rely heavily on his defensive instincts and play a higher-end style of game.
That comes with a lot of responsibility as well, as Ekholm doesn’t have a lot to prove at this point.
He has only three points in 40 games so far this season and has only five points in his past 23 games with New Jersey, so it’s going to be tough for him to take the next step this season.
Gallagher, 31, played in his first game with the Bruins on Monday.
The right-shot defenseman played well in his two starts with the team last season, posting four assists and a plus-four rating.
He’ll have a tough time making the jump from AHL to NHL, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s ready to crack the lineup for Boston in the near future.
Gallagher’s game hasn’t changed much over the years.
He still plays a high-scoring style of hockey, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still possess some of the tools to be a good defensive defenseman.
In fact, it was the same for the former Montreal Canadiens captain, who had a strong season last year with Boston.
Gallagher is a physical presence who plays hard in the corners and has a solid wrist shot, so the Bruins are certainly looking to bring in a guy who can bring that kind of play to the table.
He could also be used on the wing, which is where he spent most of his time in New Jersey last season.
This move could also come with some risk for the Bruins, as Gallagher has been plagued by injuries in the past.
If he doesn.
He signed a two-year contract with the New Jersey Devils this offseason, but his offensive production hasn’t really been up to par with expectations so far.
He was used sparingly in his final season with the Devils, which made him an easy target for trade rumors last season and could make it harder for him and the Bruins to keep him.
Gallagher had his best season with New York last year, but injuries and inconsistency hurt him.
He struggled mightily in his rookie season with Boston last year and was unable to put up the same numbers, but still posted 10 points in 25 games for the club last season after posting just eight points in 50 games for New Jersey.
Gallagher was signed to a three-year deal worth $7 million per season with an average annual value of $5.9 million last season before he suffered a season-ending injury against the Buffalo Sabres.
It’s a huge loss for the Boston Bruins, who already have a glut of offensive talent in the system, and this could mean that they’ll have to look elsewhere for a player like Gallagher.
He would be a valuable addition to the Bruins in terms the physical and defensive end of the ice, but if he ends up getting the call to start on the fourth line, it will likely be in the role where Kelly plays.
Kelly will be a right-shooting defenseman, but Kelly also has the ability to play left-side on the Bruins.
He spent the past three seasons playing with the Ottawa Senators, and while he’s a good puck-moving defenseman, he doesn-t bring a lot offensively to the team.
Kelly’s offensive production was down in the AHL last season due to injuries, but this season he’s put up six points in 21 games with a plus/minus rating of plus-11.
That puts him in a good spot to earn a job in the Bruins lineup, especially if Kelly can put up some points in the short