Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney fails to fill a glaring need for 2024-25 in free agency

Don Sweeney addressed two needs his team had once free agency opened, but he still has a rather large hole on the roster that wasn't filled and it looks like two prospects could be fighting it out in training camp for that spot.
New York Rangers v Boston Bruins
New York Rangers v Boston Bruins / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

Back in May, Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney met with the media following his club's second-round playoff elimination against the Florida Panthers and he said that this off-season, he was going to be aggressive in making additions to the roster for the 2024-25 season and beyond.

Since the dust has settled on the July 1 free agency frenzy, you could say that Sweeney was true to his word, for the most part. Boston had been rumored to be the potential landing spot for center Elias Lindholm and defenseman Nikita Zadorov and that came to fruition after noon on Monday when the club announced that they agreed to a contract with each player.

Both players filled two big holes that the Black and Gold had in needing a top center and a left-shot defenseman. Lindholm fills a void that was left by Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci who both retired last summer. Sweeney never filled their spots and played out the season with Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha manning the top pivots spots, for the most part. Zadorov brings toughness on the backend that the Bruins have been missing since Zdeno Chara. After adding some depth pieces for the bottom six and Providence Bruins, there is still on noticeable opening on the roster that Boston's GM failed to address and it appears that he's not going to from outside the organization.

Don Sweeney fails to add a top-six wing

Lost in all the additions that came in, the Bruins still have an opening on the right side in the top six and it doesn't sound like Sweeney is going to fill that from within the organization. It feels like youngsters Georgii Merkulov and Fabian Lysell could very battle it out in training camp for that spot.

Lysell, drafted 21st overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, had an impressive stint with the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League before signing and spending the last couple of seasons in Providence. He is a dynamic player who can score, but he has yet to translate his all-around game consistently as a pro. He also has not had this big of an opportunity to make the big club out of camp.

Merkulov, signed out of Ohio State, is an impressive young player and played in four games in the NHL last season and had a very good season with the P-Bruins with 30 goals and 35 assists in 67 games. Now the question is, can he translate some of that success to the NHL?

The opening in the top-six is a void left by Jake DeBrusk leaving for the Canucks in free agency and Sweeney currently has $10.21 million remaining in cap space, however, most of that will likely go to Jeremy Swayman whenever his contract gets settled. If Swayman's contract comes in at, let's say, $8 million, that doesn't leave a lot of dough for many more additions. Lindholm and Zadorov are huge additions, but with one glaring need still not addressed, will what has been done be good enough in 2024-25? Time will tell.