Lecavalier among options to replace Horton

BOSTON -- When Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was informed by Nathan Horton’s agent that the top-line forward would take advantage of his unrestricted free-agent status and hit the open market, it took Chiarelli by surprise.

After the Bruins lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals, Chiarelli made it clear to Horton, both behind closed doors and publicly, the Bruins wanted him to re-sign. On the day players cleared out their lockers, Horton admitted he wanted to be back alongside center David Krejci and winger Milan Lucic.

That’s obviously not the case now as he’ll look elsewhere for a major payday. Chiarelli could have done some cap shuffling in order to sign Horton, but the veteran forward appears to be headed elsewhere for what his agent termed a "fresh start."

So what’s Plan B for the Bruins?

Landing the likes of Vincent Lecavalier could work.

The 33-year-old veteran met with the Bruins on Saturday night, and Chiarelli later told reporters the meeting went well.

“With what happened with Nathan, it became a little more ripe,” Chiarelli told reporters at the NHL Draft in New Jersey. “We had a good meeting.”

The veteran centerman spent 15 years with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the team recently used one of its compliance buyouts to get his $7.7 million annual cap hit off the books. According to reports, Lecavalier told the Bruins he would agree to switch to the wing if he signed with Boston.

If that’s the case, the Bruins seemingly could slip him right on to the top line with Krejci and Lucic. Lecavalier, at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, would be a good fit.

But the Bruins won't be his only suitor.

After the Lightning bought out Lecavalier, he quickly gained the attention of a lot of teams. He reportedly met with a half-dozen teams over the weekend.

Chiarelli said if the Bruins can’t land Lecavalier, there would be other available players that could fill that scoring role. Some notable free-agent right wingers include Jarome Iginla, Daniel Alfredsson, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and former Bruin Michael Ryder. Maybe Danny Briere, a center with the Philadelphia Flyers, would, like Lecavalier, consider switching positions to sign with Boston.

Whichever direction Chiarelli decides to go, he'll have some options to consider.