The Boston Bruins have a number of questions that will require answers going into this offseason. What will happen with veteran Patrice Bergeron? Is Jake DeBrusk finally going to be moved? Where will the team find more scoring? Are they going to make a big, short-term move if Bergeron decides to return? Finally, how do they compete in a tough Atlantic Division?
The Bruins relied on its aging core and somehow stretched the series with the Carolina Hurricanes to seven games. But, Boston still lacks depth and even if they would have gotten by Carolina, they’d have had a battle on their hands with the New York Rangers, and most believe the Bruins don’t stack up well against Tampa Bay or Florida. This won’t change when it comes to next season, not unless they make changes. And, if they lose Bergeron this offseason, it’s tough to envision a way the Bruins compete.
With Bergeron’s future very much up in the air and with David Pastrnak heading into a contract year, the Bruins have to make decisions on a handful of unrestricted free agents and a player who has been rumored to want out. What gets done with these contracts may depend on the answer Bergeron gives, but the Bruins may have to move on from the following players.
When Jake DeBrusk requested a trade out of Boston in late November, many believed a deal to send him elsewhere might go down, especially after the Bruins signed him to a reasonable two-year extension in an attempt to make him attractive to other teams. But, because the Bruins lacked scoring power and DeBrusk began to take his game to the next level, the organization held onto the 25-year-old.
During his post-season media avail, DeBrusk avoided answering questions about his trade request and expressed a willingness to remain a Bruin. At the same time, he didn’t exactly commit to the team. He noted that he’d need more time to think about his future and explained:
“I haven’t thought about it, to be honest with you. It was kind of nice to not think about it there since the deadline. I’ve been spending lots of time with the boys here. It’s been two days. I’ll go back home with my family and kind of go over the year more thoroughly and then kind of make my call from there. That’s kind of where I’m at.”
When asked about the two-year deal he signed and how that might affect his willingness to stay, he responded, ”Yeah. I don’t think I would’ve signed something like that (two-year extension) if I wasn’t OK with that.” The question is, why was he OK with it? Is it because it makes him attractive to other teams and he’s still hoping a deal can be worked out? Or, is it because he’s happy with what he’s being paid and now likes being a part of an organization he originally wanted to get away from?
DeBrusk will draw some attention based on the way he closed this season. The Bruins may need to make a number of moves. Trading DeBrusk could help the team get where they need to be a lot faster.
Saying, “Some days were harder than others” and “I did not sign here to sit on the 9th floor in the press box”, the belief in Boston seems to be that pending UFA Anton Blidh is not going to be back after falling out of favor with the coaching staff toward the end of the season.
Blidh played in just 32 games and scored just two goals in 2021-22. So too, he did not make an appearance in the first round of the playoffs. If he’s looking for some sort of guarantee that he’ll get playing time next season, that seems unlikely. Because veteran forwards Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek, Erik Haula, and Trent Frederic come up ahead of him on the depth chart and are signed through at least the 2022-23 season, Blidh isn’t going to be offered the priority opportunity he probably wants.
Curtis Lazar is a player that Blidh could have jumped over, but word is there’s mutual interest in a new deal between both Lazar and the team. He wants to stay and will likely sign a new deal.
Before making two more appearances during Round 1, Josh Brown was acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline and played in six regular-season games for the Bruins. He was added as a rental, meant to bring in some team toughness and depth on the blue line but he hardly laid the foundation for a long future with the team. As a pending UFA, what he offers may be attractive to other teams. And, when you consider the Bruins have a surplus of defensemen on the right side, it’s likely he looks at other options.
Because Brown falls below Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Connor Clifton on the depth chart, the team could try to trade his rights at the draft or he may test free agency. He’ll have more opportunities elsewhere and the Bruins have too many questions to answer to commit to him at this point.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”