Boston Bruins' free agents: who they should prioritize keeping, who they should can afford to let walk

Now that the Bruins' season is over, it's time to examine the free agent market from the inside out. Here's who they should prioritize keeping around for another season, and who they can afford to let walk.
Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins - Game Four
Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins - Game Four / Rich Gagnon/GettyImages
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Who can they afford to let walk?

Milan Lucic - Forward

Milan Lucic
Nashville Predators v Boston Bruins / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

I mean, there's really not much to talk about when it comes to Lucic. He didn't have much of a season to begin with this year playing in just four games and tallying two assists. Then the domestic violence charges came out against him and, as Forrest Gump said, "that's all I have to say about that."

Keeping Lucic around would not only be a duplication of keeping Maroon around, but it would also an absolute PR nightmare for the team and after their Centennial Season, which was wildly successful, that is the last thing that Don Sweeney and co. want to answer to.

Lucic will always be a fan favorite for his hard-hitting play on the ice, but now his time has passed.

Prediction: Lucic signs for the veteran's minimum elsewhere or goes to play in Europe.

Jake DeBrusk - Forward

Jake Debrusk
Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins - Game Four / Rich Gagnon/GettyImages

I mean, let's be real if the Bruins do actually move on from DeBrusk, it's going to hurt. A lot.

Not only was DeBrusk one of their last homegrown players to play the game well, and play it the right way, but chances are if he leaves, he's going to Edmonton where his Dad (Louie) is the broadcaster and will be playing with Connor McDavid.

However, DeBrusk has made it very clear that he has wanted an extension in Boston for the last few years, after a failed attempt at requesting a trade. If both sides really wanted an extension to get done, it would have been done and now, it's time to cut the cord.

Prediction: DeBrusk signs a 7-year, $35 million deal with Edmonton (annual AAV: $5 million).

Danton Heinen - Forward

Danton Heinen
Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins - Game Four / Rich Gagnon/GettyImages

In his return to the Bruins, Heinen put up some good numbers, but ultimately with the influx of forwards either in the AHL for development purposes, AHL for depth purposes or in the NCAA waiting to sign Entry Level Contracts, it will most likely not be enough to keep Heinen in Boston.

Heinen is a talented hockey player, and deserves all the praise he gets, but he doesn't have a spot on the Bruins to play consistently. He was lucky enough to survive the tryout portion of his contract this year, but it doesn't look like he'll make it past the one-year deal they offered him out of camp.

When he has played elsewhere, Heinen has not succeeded as well as he has in Boston, so his NHL future is up in the air.

Prediction: Heinen signs to play for a team either in Europe or the KHL.

Derek Forbort - Defenseman

Derek Forbort
Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers - Game Five / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

As other players such as Mason Lohrei and Hampus Lindholm started to heat up this season, Forbort quickly become one of the most irrelevant pieces on this Bruins' team. He began to get more healthy scratches, and when he did play, it wasn't long before he got hurt.

At one time, he was even thought to be out for the season, but he made a return eventually and played in a few meaningful games, including three in the playoffs.

Forbort played - outside of his rookie season - the third fewest games. He also was unable to show up on the scoring sheet much, just racking up four assists all season (including playoffs).

Prediction: Forbort signs a two-way contract elsewhere in the NHL.

Matt Grzelcyk - Defenseman

Matt Grzelcyk
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Five / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Now, Grzelcyk is one where I feel Boston could be wishy-washy on. I don't think they should go out of their way to sign him, but if they get him on an EXTREMELY friendly deal, then take it. Otherwise, let him walk.

Like Forbort, Grzelcyk almost became a second thought to the coaching staff and played a lower than usual amount of games. Unlike Forbort though, he set a career low in points with 11 on the season as a whole (including playoffs).

Grzelcyk did not contribute much during the playoffs and is not exactly someone that should counted on unless Boston wants a defenseman who puts up good plus/minus numbers.

Prediction: Grzelcyk signs a PTO with another team right before camp starts.

Brandon Bussi - Goaltender

Brandon Bussi
New York Rangers v Boston Bruins / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

Much like Grzelcyk, Bussi is in a messy place with the Bruins. He's an NHL caliber player, has the numbers and pedigree to back it up, but there is just simply no place for him on the NHL roster whether that is now or in a few years.

Bussi was an All-Star for the Providence Bruins a few years ago, but has since been on a slide after he has been forced to share his starting spot. The Western Michigan product has all the skills you would want in a goaltender, so there is a chance another team will take a shot on him.

He is still young, so it may not be an NHL deal right out of the gate, but maybe a two-way deal so he'll have the chance to come up and make his debut. Watch for a team like the Oilers to take a flyer on him. Edmonton head coach Chris Knoblauch knows him very well from his days in the AHL. Yes, Bussi, is a restricted free agent, but don't count on Boston going out of its way to match the offer sheet.

Prediction: Bussi signs a two-way deal with a western conference team.

Jesper Boqvist - Forward

Jesper Boqvist
Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers - Game One / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

Signed by the Bruins shortly after losing Erik Haula, Boqvist signed for a modest sum of $775,000 to play for both Providence and Boston in 2024.

The Swede was a good pickup for Boston, but is in a bit of a situation like Grzelcyk is. If they can meet on a good number for both parties, and both parties are happy with the role the other is playing, then don't fight it.

Chances are, however, Boqvist is looking for a little more than just another one-year deal, and would like to get paid over the $1 million mark. Watch for him to seek other options, how it works out for him remains to be seen.

Prediction: Boqvist signs a two-way contract elsewhere and starts the season in the AHL.