Chiarelli eyes replacement for Horton

Now that unrestricted free-agent forward Nathan Horton is testing the market, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is doing his due diligence in trying to fill the right-wing position on the team’s top line.

With the free-agent period set to begin July 5, Chiarelli has already talked to veteran forwards, including Vincent Lecavalier. Chiarelli met with the 33-year-old forward last Saturday night and since had talked with his agents, but Lecavalier ultimately decided to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers for five years and $22.5 million.

Given the Bruins’ cap constraints, Chiarelli thought it best not to pay that steep a price.

“At the end of the day, it was something I wasn’t prepared to do,” Chiarelli said during a conference call with the media Wednesday morning. “Although I did enjoy meeting with Vinny, but it was just, at that point, I made the decision not to go forward with it.”

Another veteran right winger gaining a lot of attention from the Bruins is Daniel Alfredsson. The long-time Ottawa Senator has a relationship with the Bruins’ GM since the days Chiarelli was assistant GM in Ottawa. Even at the trade deadline this past season, the Bruins were interested in acquiring Alfredsson before eventually trading for Jaromir Jagr.

The 40-year-old Alfredsson is a 17-year veteran, spending each of those seasons with Ottawa. He had 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points this past season. In the playoffs, he had 4 goals and 6 assists in 10 games.

Chiarelli reached out to Alfredsson’s camp on Wednesday morning, a source told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun.

“I know I’m allowed to talk to these players, but I don’t know if I can speak publicly as to those players I’m talking to, so I’m going to have to defer comment on that,” Chiarelli said, when asked about his interest in Alfredsson.

When the Bruins held their exit meetings a week ago, Chiarelli informed Jagr the team was not interested in in re-signing the future Hall of Famer. At that time, Chiarelli was under the impression he would have an opportunity to re-sign Horton. Now that he knows Horton is not coming back to Boston, Chiarelli admitted Wednesday there might be a change of heart on Jagr.

“We actually have thought about circling back,” admitted Chiarelli. “We told him we were moving on, so he may have moved on also. It’s something we may re-visit. He’s on a list of a bunch of guys. I’d like to go into this, when I talk about reconstructing the right side, maybe we can get some youth in there, too, in addition to an older guy. When I say ‘older’ it’s relatively speaking.

“I’m open to all options and alternatives. I’ll look at a number of different things. When I say reconstruct the right side, we’ve probably lost Jagr, which I’m OK with too. Jaromir and I had a good exit meeting, and [we’ve lost] Nathan. We’re looking to rebuild that right side.”

If Chiarelli opts to look internally for the right-wing solution, the GM said one-time prospect Jordan Caron, 22, could be in the mix. The team recently qualified the former first-rounder (25th overall in 2009) and Chiarelli believes Caron can still contribute at the NHL level, even though his development hasn’t gone as planned.

“Absolutely, he’s part of the equation,” Chiarelli said. “We qualified him and he certainly plays both sides. He had a strong playoff [with Providence] so he’s part of the equation without question.”

Chiarelli also said he’s looking for the right chemistry to add to the Bruins’ top line alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic.

“We have a lot of things we’re looking at,” Chiarelli said. “We’re going to interview a few guys in the next couple of days, and we’ve got a couple of trades we’re looking at. It’s early on in the process. I’d like to think that we can be creative in filling these holes. We’ve got a really good core and we plan to contend for a Cup again, so I think we could attract some pretty good players.”