A look at several free-agent defensemen who could help the Boston Bruins, plus an update on Chicago Blackhawks RFA center Marcus Kruger. 

Lots of UFA help available for the Bruins.

Is Cody Franson the best free-agent defense option for the Bruins?

Is Cody Franson the best free-agent defense option for the Boston Bruins?

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty reports there are plenty of salary-cap casualties among this summer’s unrestricted free agents who could help the Boston Bruins if they wish to add affordable depth. Haggerty lists Martin Havlat, Erik Cole, Brenden Morrow, Olli Jokinen, Jiri Tlusty, Curtis Glencross and Stephen Weiss among the available forwards, while blueliners include Christian Ehrhoff, Marek Zidlicky and Cody Franson. He wonders if the Bruins could sign one of those players to a professional tryout contract.

BOSTON HERALD: Chris Mason lists Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff, Marek Zidlicky, David Schlemko and Anton Volchenkov as five defensemen that could still interest the Bruins. Mason notes the club has spoken with Franson, Zidlicky and possibly Ehrhoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Franson is the best available defenseman, but he’s seeking a long-term deal reportedly worth anywhere between $4.5 and $6 million annually. That’s likely out of the Bruins price range. Ehrhoff and Zidlicky would be more affordable on a short-term basis, but Ehrhoff has a concussion history while Zidlicky is 38 years old. Volchenkov is a physical defensive blueliner, but injuries have hampered his effectiveness. Schlemko, 28,  might be the better value if the Bruins merely seek a short-term depth addition.

Kruger hoping for a new contract soon.

ESPN.COM: Scott Powers reports Chicago Blackhawks restricted free agent center Marcus Kruger claims he’s not concerned that he hasn’t signed a new contract yet with the club, but he’s hoping to get a deal done before training camp opens in September. He’d prefer a long-term deal, but his agent also said Kruger would accept a shorter one if necessary. “We’ve discussed a lot of different options there,” Kruger said. “Whatever happens, it’s going to be good for me and them.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kruger’s comments leads me to dismiss the notion he’ll sign an offer sheet with a rival club. He obviously wants to remain with the Blackhawks. I expect he’ll be re-signed once they’ve free up sufficient cap space before the start of next season. Wingers Bryan Bickell ($4 million annually) and Kris Versteeg ($2.2 million) are considered the likely trade candidates.