All good things come to an end at some point. It has been over 48 hours since the conclusion of Game Seven. When Carter Verhaeghe scored the overtime goal, you had to think to yourself “No way that went in”. The window he had to shoot through was small, but he got it. The city and the fan base remains in shock. As a team, there expressions at the end of game hand shakes said it all. Defensemen Charlie McAvoy did not hold back how this felt either. He went on to say, “Kind of numb still. It’s hard to really put it into words right now…it’s so fresh, it’s hard to even put into words what went wrong or where it wrong. It’s the ultimate disappointment right now.”
This one is going to sting for a while. But now that the offseason will be underway, we can take a look at what the Boston Bruins future looks like.
The Boston Bruins Future Beyond This Season
This core group wasn’t going to be together forever. A good chunk of it is already retired and on to greener pastures. For years, fans were screaming for Don Sweeney to go all in on this core while the window was opened. For many years he did not and the Bruins almost won a championship with Karson Kuhlman as their second line winger. This season was different and had promise. The Boston Bruins shattered every record during the regular season. In addition, this was the true Last Dance with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Sweeney went all in at the deadline acquiring Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov, and Garnett Hathaway.
Going all in was the right move, but the team fell short of the ultimate goal. Now questions loom over the future of this team and where things go from here. Boston is in a salary cap crunch and things will get tricky down the stretch.
New Offseason, Same Scenario
For the second offseason in a row, Sweeney and CO. will wait on the decisions of David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. Both were pending free agents last summer and will be this summer as well. Krejci has already stated he will not play in his home country like he did the season prior. It is either Boston or retirement for number 46. With the tough exit, he wants to make sure he makes the right decision for his future.
Patrice Bergeron will do the same. Bergeron took this game to heart as well as this loss. He went on to say, “The emotions are still hard. The scars will be there for a while…it’s too early right now to even make a sound decision [about my future]. I really want to make sure I make the right call…I don’t know how long it’s gonna take.”
Nobody in the city of Boston or in that locker room can picture a team without number 37 on it. One of the biggest aspects of the Boston Bruins future looms with their captain.
Key Free Agents
As outlined prior, the Boston Bruins have key free agents. Each player has their case to be made, but here is where the work lies. Having good depth was a great problem to have. However, there is only so much money to spend and wealth to go around. Sweeney has already locked up David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha. But now it’s time to get the boots on the ground and get to work. Every deadline acquisition was a rental and time will tell if any get brought back for another season and more.
So far, no contract talks are in place with Tyler Bertuzzi. Arguably the best and most impactful Bruin since coming along, locking him up would be great. Bertuzzi had 16 points in 21 games during the regular season, but made his mark in the playoffs. He went on to score five goals (tied for the team lead) and had ten points (tied for first). He relished the opportunity to play in the playoffs and was the best Bruin throughout their series.
Keeping Dmitry Orlov will be hard. He is arguably a top pair defensemen in this league. The log jam on the Bruins back end is noticeable. Especially given the amount of times Jim Montgomery shuffled the lines in round one. Unless they move specific players (another topic for discussion), it will be hard to keep him in the fold. Hathaway is another fourth line bruiser that made his mark. But like in years past, the Bruins have been able to replace fourth line players. The Bruins also have other in house free agents such as Nick Foligno, Connor Clifton, and Tomas Nosek. All those players want to return, but understand if they are not able to. But those aren’t the toughest of all decisions to make.
The Bigger Contracts To Ink
The biggest question was will David Pastrnak get signed? Well he did and he is a Bruin for the next eight seasons. However, the attention turns to younger talent needing new contracts. Goaltender Jeremy Swayman is an RFA that needs a new deal. Even though he served as the 1B to Linus Ullmark, he was better than most starters. Swayman finished with a 24-6-4 record while posting a 2.27 goals against average, .927 save percentage, and 24 goals saved above expected. Being 24 years of age, the goal to locking him up would bode well for the core moving forward.
Another impact player under Jim Montgomery that needs a new deal is Trent Frederic. After being a borderline fourth line bruiser under Bruce Cassidy, he played third line minutes and had a career season to go with it. He was quiet in the playoffs, but set a career high in goals (17), and points (31). Confidence has been part of his game this year and he grew himself a player. He is due a sizable raise and would be a good impact player to keep long term.
Are Growing Pains Ahead?
Despite the crushing loss, the Bruins are built to contend further. Sure they may not win the Presidents Trophy or have a historic year like this year, but they are built well. Boston has a great tandem in net, a deep blueline, and built strong on the wings. The question however lies with the depth at center. Decisions loom but this team won’t go away just yet.