While fixing the problematic defense should be the Bruins top priority this summer, there is another spot on the roster that could use an upgrade: right wing.
While David Pastrnak looks to be a star in the making at right wing for the Black & Gold, Loui Eriksson probably won’t be back next season and the likes of Jimmy Hayes and Lee Stempniak don’t look to be enough to fill the void in the top six Eriksson would leave.
Boston may have a solution made to order in Islanders free agent Kyle Okposo. The nine year veteran (if you include nine games played in his first season) Okposo would be able to fill the void that Eriksson will leave and possibly even be an upgrade over the Bruins 30-goal scorer.
At 28 years old, Okposo is younger than Eriksson and in his prime. Standing at 6’0” and 217 pounds, Okposo has the size that the Bruins would like in a top six right wing. His measureables are similar to Jarome Iginla, whom the Bruins pursued aggressively at the 2013 trade deadline before ultimately signing him before the 2013-14 season. He isn’t the hall of fame caliber player that Iginla is, but Okposo has a similar build and plays a strong style of hockey.
In his last two seasons, Okposo has scored a total of 40 goals and tallied 75 assists. These aren’t world-beating numbers and are below Eriksson’s, but playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and getting time on a Bruins power play that was ranked seventh in the NHL should help boost those totals. He’s also averaging just under 19 minutes of ice time per game over the last two years and can plays solid defense, which would fit right into a top six role in Boston.
As an alternate captain for the Islanders, Okposo was also trusted by his teammates and played a leadership role in the locker-room. These intangibles should be enticing for a Boston team that has consistently shrunk in big moments, save for a few players, in recent years.
Okposo would not come cheap for the Bruins. Given that only one free agent under the age of 30, Steven Stamkos, scored more goals than him last season and that there are several teams that would like his services, Okposo will likely command a salary in the range of $6-6.5 million per season. That number could be even higher if there is a bidding war for him. Even with this price tag, the Bruins should give serious consideration to bringing in the former Islander.
Slotting Okposo and Pastrnak into their top two right wing positions would make things much more stable for the Bruins going forward. It will also allow them to solely focus on upgrading and developing their defense corps, which is a critical need. Okposo would not solve all of Boston’s problems, but his presence will provide a proven, talented piece to a spot in Boston’s top six that needs an infusion of talent, should Eriksson leave.