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Kevin Paul Dupont | On hockey

With Mike Reilly signed, Bruins are ready for start of free agency

Mike Reilly, acquired at the April trade deadline, will be skating for the Bruins for the next three seasons.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

NHL free agency kicks off Wednesday at noon, and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, his record spotty when shopping in the open market, as of late Tuesday afternoon had roughly $12 million in Jeremy Jacobs’s spending money on hand.

Question is, what will Sweeney do with it, and who’s out there who can really help the Black and Gold?

According to a source in another NHL club’s front office familiar with Alec Martinez’s contract negotiations, the Bruins were willing to offer the veteran blue liner $16 million to play here the next three years. However, word leaked Monday that Martinez chose to stay put in Las Vegas for a three-year deal at $15 million.


“He wanted to stay there,” said the front office source. “Always did.”

As of early Tuesday evening, the Golden Knights had not yet confirmed reupping Martinez, who went there in trade after a long stint with the Kings. Vegas’s big move Tuesday was to shovel star goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and his one-year $7 million cap hit to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Martinez, who turned 34 Monday, is a left-shot back liner who could have filled the Bruins’ need for a solid top-four performer, be it to play No. 1 pairing minutes with Charlie McAvoy or on a No. 2 duo with Brandon Carlo (recently extended on a six-year deal).

The Globe’s Matt Porter confirmed early in the evening that the Bruins re-signed Mike Reilly, the left-shot defenseman who arrived here at the April trade deadline. Reilly, once piece of the puzzle, will earn an average $3 million over the next three seasons. It’s double the $1.5 million he averaged the last two seasons.

Another rumored back-line option has been Ryan Suter, recently bought out by the Wild. Word spread throughout the league over the weekend that at least one team, believed to be Dallas, was willing to offer the 36-year-old Suter a four-year deal. It’s possible, given the dearth of defensemen with Suter’s bona fides, that he’ll command a four-year pact, but highly unlikely the Bruins would go that far on term.


Could Ryan Suter fit with the Bruins?Craig Lassig/Associated Press

A left-side defenseman, someone with some scoring touch and a bit of moxie, remains the Bruins’ top priority. The need was accentuated with last week’s loss of Jeremy Lauzon in the Seattle expansion draft. Of near-equal importance, though, has been No. 2 center, someone to pivot a line with LW Taylor Hall (extended for four years over the weekend) and RW Craig Smith (Sweeney’s big get in the last UFA market).

David Krejci (expired cap hit: $7.25 million) has held that No. 2 pivot role for more than a decade, and the Bruins have been waiting for weeks to learn whether he wants to return or go back to play in Czechia. Kirk Luedeke of the New England Hockey Journal reported midafternoon that Krejci and the club agreed to an extension, but did not report terms. As evening approached, the Bruins had not confirmed the signing.

Wherever Sweeney tosses his money, he will keep some powder dry for Tuukka Rask, should the veteran goaltender care to continue his career here once healed from surgery to repair a torn hip labrum. If that’s the case, the season could be two-thirds or three-quarters complete, which means Rask, even at his expired cap hit of $7 million, should be a relatively easy financial fit.


What sort of financial windfall could await a potentially healthy Tuukka Rask?John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Possibly more pressing would be the need for Sweeney to sign a proven stopper as insurance heading into a season that right now looks to have youngsters Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar as the goaltending tandem (at a budget-friendly $1.7 million combined cap hit).

One option would have the kids tend the cage until Rask is ready. But if he opts not to play, that’s a high-risk scenario come playoff time. Far more likely is that Sweeney brings in a vet on a one-year deal.

On Tuesday, Vancouver announced it was buying out the one year remaining on Braden Holtby’s deal, while the Sharks shooed Martin Jones (three years, nearly $18 million) off the books at the one-third discount buyout price. One of them could land here for, say, $2 million.

Sweeney’s foray into the UFA market last fall netted Smith, one of his best gets, for three years/$9.3 million. The ex-Nashville winger delivered as advertised, production in lockstep with price, far better than Sweeney’s two biggest UFA busts: Matt Beleskey and David Backes. Those latter failures, in part, should be what steers Sweeney clear of a four-year package for Suter.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney faces some big decisions in the coming days.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

According to one veteran agent, the Bruins “kicked the tires” in recent days on Ducks icon Ryan Getzlaf, 36, the 6-foot-3-inch center now with 1,101 games on his résumé. Solid character, Getzlaf, but he appeared to have little left in the tank last season (48 games/17 points), albeit with a moribund Ducks squad.


If Krejci is signed, then the need for Getzlaf could have diminished, and possibly disappeared. It does not appear that the Bruins will re-sign fourth-line center Sean Kuraly, his cap hit a modest $1.275 million the past three seasons. That’s a surprise. He is not a finisher, but he is a solid, versatile (center and wing) citizen on the bottom six. Someone will offer him $5 million over the nest three years.

The biggest surprise Tuesday, along with the Knights dealing Fleury, was Alex Ovechkin’s five-year extension with the Capitals, paying the Great Ovie an average $9.5 million. Huge money and term for a soon-to-be-36-year-old. He can still fire, though, and now he has five years to tally the 165 goals he needs to surpass Wayne Gretzky as the league’s all-time goal scorer (894).

Ovechkin’s peak pay will be $12.5 million in year No. 3 of the deal. Overall, it pays a tiny percentage less than the $9.54M per annum payout that came with his now-expired 13-year deal.

With Reilly signed, Sweeney’s available dollars dropped to about $12M, factoring in both Vladar and Swayman as his goalies and John Moore, currently recovering from hip surgery, as one of his defensemen. If Krejci were to come in around $5M, that leaves Sweeney with about $7M, still with enough to make another add to the blue line.

Or maybe Sweeney has another name or two in mind. We find out on Wednesday, possibly just minutes after UFA noon time.


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com.