The Boston Bruins are starting to find their rhythm, as they now possess a 14-8-2 record and are fourth in the Atlantic Division. It’s clear that they do have some flaws to work on, but as of now, they appear to be a team who should be able to make the postseason. Yet, when it comes to next season, there’s no question that they will be sporting a pretty different looking roster. Every offseason brings upon changes, and the summer of 2022 will do just that for Boston. Here are five players from the team who we may not see in black and gold next season.
It’s quite apparent that Jake DeBrusk won’t be back with the Bruins next season. The 25-year-old has requested a trade from the organization in hopes of getting his career back on track. A trade is very likely to occur during this regular season, but due to the fact that he is still a part of the Bruins, he qualifies for this list.
It’s already been noted that the Bruins want a player of equal value for DeBrusk, so we will have to wait and see what occurs on that front. In 23 games this season, he has five goals and eight points. So, yes, it’s been another slow start for him, but one has to wonder if he will regroup on a new team. Keep in mind, this is a winger who has recorded over 40 points twice in his career. Furthermore, the 27 goals he scored during the 2018-19 campaign certainly is something other teams are keeping in mind. Alas, if he finds his old scoring touch, it won’t be with Boston next season.
Curtis Lazar carries a very affordable $800,000 cap hit, but his contract expires at the end of the season. With this, the 26-year-old will have the opportunity to be an unrestricted free agent over the summer. Now, that doesn’t automatically mean that he is as good as gone at season’s end, but one also can’t ignore the possibility. He will be seeking a raise and the Bruins may not be the team willing to give him one.
Lazar has been a nice addition to the bottom six, as he can play both center and right wing. However, the Bruins are getting a little crowded down there and already have other centers like Tomas Nosek and Erik Haula locked up for next season. With that, Trent Frederic is continuing to make his case to be an everyday NHLer, too. Therefore, Lazar’s days in Boston could be numbered, but we will have to see what the Bruins decide to do from here.
The Bruins selected Anton Blidh with the 180th-overall pick of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Since the 2016-17 season, he has appeared in games for Boston every so often, but has primarily played for the Providence Bruins. However, at 26 years old, Blidh finally made Boston’s lineup after the preseason and is making a case for himself to have a permanent spot on the team’s fourth line. In 11 games this season, he already has a goal and four points. With this, he’s actually tied with Nick Foligno in points, as the 34-year-old winger has four assists in 16 contests.
Yet, one has to wonder if Blidh will opt to sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent this summer. His job security with the Bruins isn’t necessarily high and he may want the chance to have more playing time with another team. In an ideal world, Boston should certainly be open to re-signing him to be the team’s 13th forward, at a minimum. Yet, if a team like the Buffalo Sabres or Arizona Coyotes are open to giving him a permanent spot in the bottom six, it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t take it.
John Moore currently has two years left on his contract. Therefore, unlike Lazar and Blidh, he will not be an unrestricted free agent during the offseason. However, due to the fact that he will be in the final year of his contract next season, more teams may be open to taking on his $2.75 million cap hit then. This summer, we saw the Coyotes acquire multiple players with expensive contracts to obtain draft picks in the process. Perhaps we could see something like this happen with the 31-year-old defenseman next season.
The thing about Moore is he has shown that he can still be an NHL defenseman. His high cap hit was a big reason why Boston sent him to the minors to start the season, but when called up, he hasn’t looked out of place at all. In three games, he has zero points, but also sports a plus-2 rating. With Jakub Zboril out, he has been making his case to stay in the Bruins’ lineup. Yet, even with this, if the Bruins are able to find a rebuilding team willing to take on his contract, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t jump on that immediately.
In a bit of a shocking move, the Bruins waived Chris Wagner and sent him down to the minors before the start of the regular season. Since then, he hasn’t been called up once and it’s apparent that he’s fallen below players like Blidh and Karson Kuhlman on the depth chart. He did struggle significantly during the 2020-21 campaign, though, as he had just two goals, five points and a minus-9 rating in 41 contests. Yet, he was a mainstay in their bottom six for multiple seasons, but now that’s far from the case.
The Bruins ultimately have two options when it comes to what to do with Wagner. Due to the fact that he also will only have one year remaining on his contract for next season, they could find a team willing to take on his salary to go along with some draft picks. However, exploring a potential buyout with him could also make sense. We will have to wait and see what Boston ends up doing with the 30-year-old, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him away from the organization by next season.
Captain Patrice Bergeron also has the opportunity to test the open market this summer. Although it’s possible that the 36-year-old could elect to sign elsewhere or even retire, neither is something to bet on. The Bruins will obviously do what it takes to get him back and ultimately should. He’s been a part of the organization since 2003 and is still their top center by a country mile.
Alas, it will be interesting to see what the Bruins end up doing with all of these players. It is clear that there’s a good chance that they will be without these five, so they will be forced to make changes from here.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.