Off-Season Checklist: Boston Bruins

With the off-season in full swing, apart from the two teams in the Stanley Cup final, it’s time to examine what each team will need to accomplish in the coming months. Next is a look at the Bruins.

It hasn’t been a particularly eventful season for Boston, who were once again one of the strongest teams in the Atlantic Division and while they ended up in a Wild Card seat, they were safe in a playoff spot early on. However, they weren’t able to overtake Carolina in the first round and have been busy weeks for the Bruins ever since. GM Don Sweeney will have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks, assuming a new contract is terminated between now and then.

Hire a new coach

It was a move that came as a surprise to some, but Sweeney and team president Cam Neely decided to make a change behind the bench by firing Bruce Cassidy earlier this month. This, despite the team going 245-108-46 under his watch during the regular season. Playoff success wasn’t there, however, with the team playing a game under .500 likely playing a significant role in the decision to make a change. Cassidy hasn’t been unemployed in a long time and now has a long-term contract to coach in Las Vegas.

It seems like a crossroads situation for the Bruins and, at least for the moment, Boston is unrelated to many of the veterans who have been around the block with quite a few teams over the years. Their current crop of known candidates mostly consists of first-time options (Seattle assistant Jay Leach, Toronto assistant Spencer Carbery, and Pittsburgh assistant Mike Vellucci) or NHL bench bosses (David Quinn, St. Louis assistant Jim Montgomery and Boston assistant Joe Sacco).

Addressing that type of coach could signal openness to trying a different path and perhaps even step back in the short term as none of these options carry the kind of winning expectations that a “recycled” veteran often does. Either way, Boston will want to have its new bench boss by the start of free will on July 13 as the new manager will want to have a say in staff moves.

Re-sign or replace Bergeron

Patrizia Bergeron has been a fixture in the middle for Boston for the past 18 years. He is a five-time winner of the Selke Trophy and is 18 points from his 1,000-point career mark. The 36-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down and is consistently one of their top scorers. But Bergeron is set to become an unlimited free agent next month and there is some uncertainty about his future as a result. It is not about him threatening to test the market and go elsewhere – he has already ruled out – but about him deciding whether or not to hang up his skates and call it a career.

It would certainly be a devastating blow to the Bruins as they have no one in the system to replace him. If Bergeron retires, Boston will have to get busy after the notable free agency brokers highlighted by Nazem Kadri while Vincent Trocheck it will also generate a lot of interest. Self Evgeni Malkin arrives at the open market, they might check in on him too with a short-term offer. The other avenue is to try and trade for an impactful broker, but they don’t have their first round this year, the next two seconds after next month’s draft, while their pool of prospects isn’t the strongest. This will make it difficult to trade with an impact center if it comes to it.

Adding one will definitely be a necessity if Bergeron retires as they have no one else who is also an ideal second-line center let alone a top liner. Erik Haula And Charlie Coyle they have been hit and miss in key offensive roles in their careers and although they are quality side players, they are not ideal for the top tier trio. With that in mind, if Bergeron comes back, they could still use a center of impact behind him.

Predicting Bergeron’s contract if he chooses to return is difficult as he is limiting his options to the Bruins only; It is not plausible to think that he would sign a friendly contract for the team to give them some more flexibility. As it stands, they have just over $ 2MM of limit room, which is barely enough to do a lot of everything. If Bergeron were to sign a one-year contract, he would be entitled to incentives that would give them a chance to get them on the 2023-24 hat and buy themselves some wiggle room for next season.

Determine Pastrnak’s future

David Pastrnak certainly provided a lot of value for a late first-round pick in 2014. In his eight-year career, he’s just shy of averaging one point per game and hasn’t been below the third team score in the last six. seasons. Basically, it was a fixture on the Boston top line as he did it at a friendly price for the team as the 26-year-old has been under contract at $ 6.67 million for the past five years and was signed for the 2022-23 season at even that price.

Of course, Boston’s preference will be to sign Pastrnak for a contract extension as soon as he’s eligible once the new league year starts on July 13. It will take a considerable financial commitment to do so and it is fair to say that his field will be keeping an eye on Johnny Gaudreau And Philip Forsberg this summer with the price of Pastrnak likely to drop somewhere in between what those two get. Anything in the $ 9MM range is certainly doable.

However, there has been some speculation that Pastrnak may not be willing to sign an early extension that is sure to complicate matters for Sweeney. While Boston would undoubtedly have made a significant return in an exchange for him, doing so would also permanently close their window of contention; if Bergeron were to return, they could conceivably give that core another chance so that it needs to be considered. While it’s possible they’ll enter next season without a new deal in place, that has its risks. As a result, the Bruins will want to get an idea of ​​Pastrnak’s intentions before free will begins, so this will need to be near the top of Sweeney’s priority list.

Deep defensive door

On the surface, the Bruins have decent defensive depth and they will have it Jakub Zboril healthy after missing much of the season due to injury. With eight one-sided defenders, it would seem they wouldn’t need any more help.

However, Matt Grzelcyk it is out until at least November and Charlie McAvoy he’s out until at least December due to off-season shoulder surgeries. Mike Reilly he also underwent off-season surgery but should be ready for retirement.

While Boston’s depth is decent, they will need a few more bodies to get through the first two months of the season. Jack Ahcan may be an option after joining six games this year, but they may want someone with more experience. As a result, Sweeney may have his sights set on some veteran depth players for boot camp PTOs or two-way contracts with plans to get them to play Providence once everyone is healthy. With the potential for one or two places on the NHL roster to kick off the season, that could be attractive to those players considering their free agency options next month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Contract information courtesy of CapFriendly.

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