A major reason why the Boston Bruins lost their series against the New York Islanders was because of the latter’s fourth line. The Bruins had issues with their bottom-six all year, but most notably in the playoffs. The team’s Stanley Cup window is, at a minimum, on the verge of closing. Therefore, addressing this problem needs to be a major priority this off-season.
Although he was just our rival, pending unrestricted free agent, Casey Cizikas, could be the perfect fourth-line center. The Bruins should not re-sign Sean Kuraly, as he struggled significantly this season. Cizikas would surely be an upgrade, as he is a very effective defensive forward who also plays with a gritty style that the Bruins need.
The Islanders will likely try to re-sign him, as he is beloved there. He may not produce the most points, but he is a massive force every time he steps on the ice. This is the type of heart-and-soul player the Bruins need if they wish to go on a lengthy postseason run again.
Here’s how he could fit with the Bruins.
If Cizikas takes over Kuraly’s spot in the lineup, it already makes it more interesting on paper. Curtis Lazar was the best member on the fourth line this postseason. He also is versatile, so he would work on the right wing. Boston also should play Trent Frederic at left wing, as he plays with an edge and needs a real chance to progress. That would leave Chris Wagner as the odd man out. He could be trade bait this off-season, too, as he also had a poor season.
Realistically, the addition of Cizikas alone would already help the bottom six tremendously. He is the heart of the best fourth-line in hockey with the Islanders, so he would come with high expectations. Yet, if the Bruins do sign him, he should not be the biggest name they snag via free agency. They need more.