Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney facing biggest off-season during his front office tenure

With a potential franchise-changing off-season facing him, Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is facing his biggest off-season in the club's front office.
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Jeff Vinnick/GettyImages

With the clock strikes noon Monday, it's the official start of free agency for the NHL. For the Boston Bruins and GM Don Sweeney, this is a rather big off-season as far as the future of the franchise goes. Following their elimination in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Florida Panthers, Sweeney said that he is going to be aggressive this off-season with a ton of cap space to spend with multiple needs his team has.

This off-season has been one that has been circled for some time with a ton of money and contracts coming off the books and there being little retainment. Likely gone are defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Derek Forbort, while forward Jake DeBrusk is going to test free agency and likely leave, although a reunion is not out of the question. Sweeney already began the roster makeover for the 2024-25 season and beyond by shipping goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Ottawa Senators a week ago for a rather hed-scratching return of a first-round pick at this past weekend's draft, goalie Joonas Korpasilo and forward Marc Kastelic.

After not getting an exactly huge return for his Vezina Trophy-winning goalie in 2023, Sweeney is facing his biggest off-season as GM and you could say that his future as the GM in Boston could be on the line with contracts he going to be giving out and letting some of his own key ones walk.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney facing huge 2024 off-season in Boston

The biggest need that the Black and Gold have is finding a top center in the free agent market. After Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci retired last summer, Sweeney did nothing to replace the two franchise stalwarts. He went into the season and rode it out with Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha as his top two pivots. Depending on who you talk to, it went OK. However, there is a need for a No. 1 center whether it's Elias Lindholm, Chandler Stephenson, or someone through a trade, that's the former defenseman's top priority.

With Grzelcyk and Forbort likely leaving, that leaves a hole on the left side in the lineup on the blueline with Hampus Lindholm and Mason Lohrei being under contract. Sweeney can look to fill the opening with Nikita Zadorov, but he's going to be a highly-sought after free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs also looking to add on the backend. This is a spot that is less likely to be filled through a trade, but rather free agency.

Finally, a scoring wing is needed and you would think that if DeBrusk doesn't return that it woould be a left-shot, however, at this point, a right-shot will do. The Bruins need another goal-scorer on the wing whether it's bringing back Tyler Bertuzzi if he doesn't re-sign with Toronto or a veteran like Patrick Kane. Someone, anyone who can put the puck into the net and fill a void in the top-six.

This has been the off-season that the front office and Bruins fans have been waiting for and so far, trading Ullmark for a less than stellar return and moving fan-favorite Jakub Lauko to the Minnesota Wild Saturday at the NHL Entry Draft for Vinni Lettieri and a draft pick are the two moves Sweeney had made. He said he was going to be aggressive this off-season and we should get a good read beginning Monday at 12:01 p.m. EST just how aggressive he's going to be. A lot is riding on the next two-plus months before training camp kicks off in September.