Multiple Bruins players listed as top free agency signings

Published May 19, 2023 at 12:10

In the realm of free agency, it's customary to expect a handful of premier players available for signing. However, last year proved to be an exception with a mere eight such talents up for grabs. This year's pool is even more lacking, featuring only a solitary standout.

Dmitry Orlov, a seasoned defenseman, is poised to maintain a commendable 41st-ranking in Net Rating among fellow blue-liners for the upcoming season. This places him slightly above the average mark, making him an excellent choice for a second-pairing defenseman and even suitable for a top-line role.

Nonetheless, the biggest query surrounding the 31-year-old is the duration of his sustained performance at this level, a concern often associated with any free agent in their thirties. Evolving Hockey's forecast suggests a five-year contract valued at $6 million. While Orlov is undoubtedly deserving of such compensation presently, and likely to maintain his prowess next year, it is doubtful that he will maintain it as the contract ages.

However, for a team in contention, the risk involved might be justifiable. Orlov has proven his ability to handle difficult minutes during his tenure with the Capitals, and he seemed invigorated when donning the Bruins jersey. His time with the Bruins saw him amass 17 points in 23 games, displaying remarkable proficiency by earning 58 percent of the expected goals. These statistics align favorably with his underlying performance indicators, finally highlighting his true capabilities.

While Orlov has never been known for his goal-scoring prowess, his tracked stats indicate that he is one of the league's premier defensemen when it comes to puck possession. His exceptional skills in breaking out of the defensive zone, carrying the puck up the ice, and creating scoring opportunities with his precise passes truly set him apart.

If there's any concern regarding Orlov, it lies in his ability to endure the demanding nature of postseason play. Despite his impressive performance during five-on-five situations with the Bruins throughout the season, he was only present for 45 percent of the expected goals during the playoffs. Most notably, his defensive contributions were lacking, as he was on the ice for 3.2 expected goals against per 60 minutes, which is 0.42 higher than when he was off the ice. This continues a disconcerting four-year trend for Orlov, revealing his struggles in this aspect. Since 2020, he has had the ninth-worst impact on expected goals against among defensemen with over 100 minutes of playtime.

Nevertheless, Orlov remains a valuable investment due to his considerable talent. However, like any free agent, he carries a fair share of risk.

In terms of forwards, the most prominent name in the 2023 unrestricted free agent class is Tyler Bertuzzi. Admittedly, the list lacks the allure of marquee names at the top. Teams seeking a game-changing presence in their lineup will find themselves disappointed.

Yet, Bertuzzi brings the potential to be a game changer within a formidable roster. He perfectly embodies the role of a second-line winger, capable of scoring the gritty goals necessary to prevail in the intensity of playoff hockey. Although the Bruins may have faltered in the opening round, Bertuzzi cannot be faulted, as his inaugural playoff experience was an overwhelming success. In a mere seven games, he amassed an impressive five goals and 10 points, dominating every shift with an imposing presence.

This performance shouldn't come as a surprise given his track record with the Red Wings, where he consistently displayed strong play-driving abilities, culminating in 62 points across 68 games two years ago. Despite a challenging start to the year, Bertuzzi seamlessly continued his offensive contributions upon joining the Bruins. The outcome was entirely predictable given his remarkable offensive capabilities.

Source: TheAthletic
May 19   |   147 answers
Multiple Bruins players listed as top free agency signings

Who would you rather see resign?

Bertuzzi11981 %
Orlov2819 %
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