The Bruins are going to win the Stanley Cup in 2018.
Okay, no they probably won’t. But the way some fans, writers, and TV/radio personalities are talking about the future it certainly sounds like they are going to. The Bruins do have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to prospects but will still have holes in the team come October when the season starts.
It won’t matter what holes the Bruins fill if the biggest priority to this off season, re-signing David Pastrnak to a contract extension, isn’t taken care of. There are plenty of contractual comparisons out there, like Mark Scheifele ($6.125 million cap hit), Johnny Gaudreau ($6.75 million cap hit), Sean Monahan ($6.375 million cap hit), and Nathan Mackinnon ($6.3 million cap hit). So this contract should be a relatively straightforward negotiation with so many comparable contracts given out last off season to players coming off of their entry-level contract. We can expect that Pastrnak will be able to afford to get his teeth fixed and be able to donate more to “Cuts for a Cause,” so he doesnt have to cut his perfect flow once he signs a shiny new contract in the $6 million per year range.
It has also been well publicized that the Bruins would like a left shot, top 4 defenseman to play with Charlie McAvoy. As we have seen in the past, it’s damn hard to trade for a top 4 defenseman. It could be worse though. The Bruins could be looking for a top 4 right shot defenseman. Those are almost impossible to trade for. There are already some rumored names being talked about in the trade market but I hate to tell you Cam Fowler is not walking through that door. I hope he does, but the Ducks are not going to trade their best defenseman. Although he has lost a lot of his post playing career weight gain, I do not think Ray Bourque will be coming out of retirement either.
I could actually see the Bruins bringing back/hanging onto Joe Morrow since they are going to be in need of left shot defensemen. He played well in the playoffs in his 89th audition with the B’s and could be an affordable 7th defenseman option, but it sounds like he could be a goner with his Instagram post on May 4th:
One player that might be available, and the Bruins would not have to give up any assets for, would be Brendan Smith. Yup, the same Brendan Smith that tried to fight Big Z in the playoffs in 2013 and the same Brandon Smith that is the brother of Rielly Smith. He has been one of the Rangers best defensemen since coming over from Detroit at the trade deadline. He is a left shot who can play heavy minutes and will be a free agent. I don’t know if there is a fit, or if he would want to play for the Bruins, but that is just one option.
It would be great if the Bruins are able to find a left shot defenseman that can play top 4 minutes that’s not named Torey Krug. Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril will most likely not be ready out of the gate but I also highly doubt that the Bruins would want to have half of their top 6 have one year of experience, or less. This player will need to come from the outside.
Another big need facing the Bruins this offseason is a left wing to ride shotgun with David Krejci. They have to get him a viable option on that second line. I feel this is a position that they can potentially fill internally with DeBrusk, Heinen, Vatrano, or Bjork (?), but will that make the sometimes “grumpy” Krejci happy? It took playing with David Pastrnak to get Krejci going this season. And there have been indications that Krejci was not happy with his linemates. So you can expect the Gabriel Landeskog trade rumors to start back up. But since Colorado lost the draft lottery do they still want to trade Landeskog and Duchane? And could the B’s make the right roster moves to create the cap space needed for a move like that?
The positive is I do not see any way how Jake DeBrusk is not on this Bruins team next season. He’s matured and developed so well in Providence. A shining example of how too handle a not quite ready but highly regarded first round draft pick. He’s on the right path. With that being said, if it’s Bjork or the B’s get a left wing from outside the organization, the top 9 will be getting crowded. I could actually see Frank Vatrano being the odd man out and possibly being moved. A year ago I thought Vatrano was untouchable, but today I am not so sure.
Yet the Bruins are not going to go with a rookie filled 3rd line full of inexperience. And that would be the case because I also do not see any way Ryan Spooner is going to be back. So where could the experience come from? Would David Backes become the third line center? One idea, and don’t start screaming at me, comes from Jarome Iginla purchasing a house in Boston last month. I could see Iginla being the third line right wing with Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson centering that line. Iginla would give a veteran presence on a line that is most likely going to have a younger player on the left wing as well. I like the idea.
I have to think that the fourth line is pretty well locked up between Sean Kuraly, Riley Nash and Noel Acciari, but I also would like to see Dominic Moore return for another season. And don’t worry, Jimmy Hayes will not be on either the third or fourth line. If there isn’t a buyout the Bruins may go the Zac Rinaldo route and send him down to Providence. Most likely this will be up to Mr. Jacobs since he pays the bills. What we do know is Hayes will not play another regular season game with the Bruins. I do think Hayes is a good guy. Based on what you can see on social media it seems like he is well liked and a good teammate. It was just never a good fit from the start so it is time to move on and I hope Hayes can find his game.
The last need Don Sweeney will have to address is the backup goalie. We are all well aware that Tuukka should only play 55 games to stay fresh. Looking forward I actually think this position isn’t much of a worry as it seemed back in December. The way Anton Khudobin played down the stretch and how Zane McIntyre is lights out in the AHL I feel like they have the options now. It’s not the end of the world if Khudobin ends up in Providence and helps either Malcolm Subban or Daniel Vladar along. That’d be fine. But in my opinion the backup job is McIntyre’s next season. Subban’s entry-level contract has expired so the Bruins have a decision to make on his future with the club.
The Bruins future may be bright on paper but they still have a way to go before they are contenders again. They need to improve with big help from their youth or they will be passed by. There were only three Eastern Conference teams that made the playoffs last year and this year (Penguins, Capitals, and Rangers). And teams like Philidelphia, Buffalo, Florida, Carolina and Tampa are all going to be better next season and pushing for the playoffs. The Bruins have to be careful to not put too many of their young players in the lineup before they are ready or they could regress and set the team back again.
The fun puzzle that is roster building is why the off season is my favorite time of the year. Where getting closer to seeing which pieces fit.
Follow us on @BostonPucks and let’s talk hockey.