So the first day of free agency has come and gone and after well over 400 million dollars in contracts were handed out the Bruins stood firm and didn't make a single move. Unfortunately the same can't be said for Jerome Iginla who decided a 3 year contract worth 16 million was just too good to pass up and is now a member of the Colorado Avalanche. So now the question is who fills that first line right wing spot? In my last article I mentioned Radim Vrbata as a possible candidate but with the Bruins unwilling to make any moves acquiring the 4 million in cap space to get him might not be an option. So now we are left with players who have played well in the past just not recently like Boyes from 2 years ago when he signed a 1 year deal with the Islanders for a million dollars and went on to rejuvenate his career with 35 points in 48 games. So with that type of player being the only realistic option at this point one name jumps off the page at me.
That player is former 30 goal scorer Devin Setoguchi. The former San Jose, Minnesota, and Winnipeg wing is a free agent and is likely to fly under most teams radar given the drop in his production over the past few seasons. During his most recent contract over the past three seasons Setoguchi has earned 2.75, 3, and 3.25 million dollars. Unfortunately as his salary increased his production decreased going from 36 points over 69 games in 2010-11 to 27 points in 48 games in 2011-12 and again 27 points this past season but in 75 games. So clearly Setoguchi hasn't had the best of luck lately moving from the Wild to the Jets and being dropped to a third line role on a non playoff team. The good news is he is still only 27 years old so he has the best years of his career still ahead of him and will be in his prime for the next 5 years hopefully.
A little more back ground on him shows there were high expectations from the start as he was drafted with the 8th overall pick in the 2005 draft. In his first season which was split between the AHL and NHL he played 44 games for the Sharks and scored just 17 points. Fortunately in that short time he showed promise and was a full time member of the Sharks the next season and had a monster year. In his second year in the NHL the 08-09 season Setoguchi would set career highs in goals with 31 assists 34 and point 65 with a plus 16 rating as well as 23 power play points. Unfortunately he was never able to reach those numbers again only scoring 20 and 22 goals the next 2 seasons with 36 and 41 points. Setoguchi was a member of the Wild the next 2 seasons scoring 36 points in 69 games in the 11-12 season and 27 points in 48 games in the 12-13 season. Last year his worst since his rookie year points wise was spent as a member of the Jets he played mainly on the third line and only scored 27 points in 75 games.
With his numbers dropping over the past 5 seasons Setoguchi is the best example of a low risk high reward player. The Bruins could easily move Kelly to get the cap room to bring him in on a one year prove it deal for around 1-2 million. The best part is with his speed and goal scoring ability he could play on the third line with Soderberg or if Julien doesn't want to break up the Swedish connection with Eriksson Setoguchi could play on the top line. This would be the first time Krejci had a winger with the speed to match his and was more of a sniper instead of a power forward. Yes Hortan and Iginla were good goal scorers but they were more about going into the dirty areas and scoring putting a much more blue collar effort in then a traditional sniper would. Another bonus is his strength on the power play having scored over 20 power play points in the past he would be a good fit on the secon power play unit with Bergeron and Soderberg if Smith isn't playing well. With all of these skills the low price tag would be too good to pass up on and at the worst we would acquire a cheap third line winger who would play with Soderberg and probably still have a 30+ point year especially if he saw significant time on the power play.
Yes we have players ready to move to the NHL in Spooner Koko and Fraser but depending on them for a large amount of scoring might be asking to much. With the trade of Kelly that opens the left wing on the third line and the loss of Thornton opens the fourth line which leaves the rookies to fill those rolls and have 1 be the 13th forward. To me Setoguchi brings everything the Bruins were missing last season and if he is able to find his old form he could be a great player for future cup runs. Hopefully management and I are on the same page here because it hasn't been that way in the past. Some examples being letting Pouliot go and not bringing back Boyes for a cheap deal 2 years ago. But those are in the past and I don't see a way this signing could go bad so I say we make this happen. Keep checking back here to see if either Setoguchi or Vrbata will be wearing the black and gold next season.