Bruins Could Find Value Signing Stastny

The Boston Bruins are entering the 2022 free agency period in an interesting spot. On the one hand, the team is at the tail-end of their championship window and are dealing with a plethora of significant injuries to top-end talent heading into the 2022-23 season. On the other hand, though, the team seems primed to make at least one last push at a Stanley Cup next season with Patrice Bergeron believed to be signing a one-year, incentive-laden deal and rumors of David Krejci’s return being at least a possibility.

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It should be mentioned that any rumors of Krejci’s return are incredibly speculative at best, but for the sake of fun and exploring options this offseason, we’ll treat it as though it’s equally as possible to happen as it is unlikely to happen.

Paul Stastny Winnipeg Jets
Paul Stastny had an excellent 2022-23 season with the Winnipeg Jets and is looking to enter a winning situation heading into the 2022-23 season. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The salary cap will play a legitimate factor in any and all decisions newly-extended general manager Don Sweeney makes next season, but it appears the team is looking to bolster the roster rather than starting a retool or rebuild. This bodes well for newly-hired coach Jim Montgomery, but it also begs the question; what type of moves can and will the Bruins end up making to improve their roster from last season to next season.

Related: Bruins Hiring Montgomery Checks All the Boxes for Sweeney

While secondary scoring seemed like it was finally taken care of at the beginning of the 2022 calendar year, the end of the regular season and the first round of the postseason showed that the Bruins still need to find players capable of producing outside of their top six. At the very least, the first line needs some reprieve as their dominance has proven to be unsustainable over the long haul when nobody else poses a threat offensively. A return from Krejci would obviously be an excellent start to solving this problem as it would immediately slot players down the lineup in a more favorable role, but that wouldn’t be enough to solve all of the team’s problems.

Players layer who can add value at multiple positions and contribute in all situations don’t grow on trees. They also don’t typically sign on team-friendly contracts given their inherent value. Sometimes, though, there’s a perfect storm where a player is at the tail-end of their career, still playing very good hockey and looking to reach their ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup.

Enter Paul Stastny.

Paul Stastny Top Priority Is To Win the Stanley Cup

The 36-year-old Stastny is coming off of a strong 2021-22 campaign that saw him score 21 goals and 45 points in 71 games. The veteran forward has spent the majority of his career at the center position, but he expressed willingness to play on the wing at this point in his career if it helps his team win. Speaking of winning, that seems to be the only goal for Stastny heading into the 2022-23 season as he looks to cap off an excellent career with hockey’s top prize.

While Stastny could be an option for the Bruins at both center and on the wing, his two-way ability, leadership, team-first mentality and special teams prowess make him the perfect fit for just about any team looking to bolster their lineup this offseason. Money may not be an issue in bringing Stastny onto a roster, but selling him on the Bruins as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders heading into next season may be an obstacle that could prove to be insurmountable.

If the Bruins can find a way to get both Bergeron and Krejci back, that would go a long way in proving that they’re looking at going all-in. At the same time, though, there’s nothing stopping teams who made more convincing playoff pushes last season from reaching out to Stastny and piquing his interest as well. Still, the Bruins have had a plethora of success in the last decade and the team has veterans like Bergeron, Krejci, Nick Foligno and others on the roster who can make their best elevator pitches to Stastny to sell him on Boston as his next home.

Running back the roster from last season with Stastny and Krejci in tow could prove to be needle-movers for the Bruins. It doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be other uncertainties that need to be taken care of afterwards, though.

Bruins Have a Busy Offseason Ahead

It’s unclear what the future of Jake DeBrusk holds, but the winger did a superb job of raising his value last season with a 25-goal bounce-back campaign. If he and the Bruins decide they want to run things back together, he could be a good piece to keep alongside Bergeron and Brad Marchand. If the relationship is beyond repair, DeBrusk could at the very least fetch a relatively good return given what he proved capable of last season.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk’s future with the Boston Bruins is still up in the air. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Another question mark heading into next season will be the roles of Erik Haula and Charlie Coyle. The two players served as the Bruins’ No. 2 and No. 3 centers respectively last season, but that would undoubtedly change if at least one of Krejci or Stastny are added to the lineup. The Bruins could look to use Stastny in a top-six role on the wing, but his ability to play such strong defensive hockey down the middle cannot be overstated and it may be wasted with him outside of his natural position for the majority of the season.

It’s possible that both Haula and Coyle serve as wingers somewhere in the lineup, but deciding where they’d both play just opens up even more question marks. These are all things that Sweeney and Montgomery will need to figure out together, but having too much center depth is never an issue. If the Bruins find themselves in a spot where they have so many centers capable of playing in a middle-six capacity that one or two of them are forced onto the wing, that means that they will be as versatile a team as it comes next season.

It also means the Bruins could capitalize on certain matchups next season by bolstering their depth up and down the lineup.

This is all undoubtedly speculative, from the return of Krejci to the signing of Stastny, to the trading of DeBrusk and the displacements of Haula and Coyle. Any and all of these things can happen this offseason, but only time will tell if and what actually does take place.