It’s the New Year, which means it’s time to start thinking of resolutions for 2023. For the Boston Bruins, a lot went right in the second half of 2022 after the 2021-22 season came to a disappointing end in May. But things are looking quite excellent for the team right now that sits first in the league with 59 points and a 28-4-4 record.
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Still, there is always room for improvement even as you celebrate things going right. For the Bruins, most of their resolutions for the New Year revolve around building on the excellent start to the season while still looking toward the future of the franchise.
Give David Pastrnak His Money
The Bruins’ leading goal scorer is in the final year of a six-year contract and his next one has been a hot topic around Boston and the NHL all season. Somehow David Pastrnak has taken his game to an even more elite level in the first half of 2022. He’s reached 50 points, including 25 goals, in only 36 games. He’s on pace to surpass 100 points and score over 50 goals in a season for the first time in his career.
Over the summer when extension talks began, it was evident that he would get a pretty high contract. But now, as he plays amongst the most elite of the league, he should get paid like a top player in the NHL. Latest rumors that are circling around social media are an eight-year, $88 million deal that would carry an average annual value of $11 million.
Pastrnak is a building block for this team going forward. They already have two top defensemen signed for the next eight years in Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm, now they need to start securing their future offense, which begins with Pastrnak. Contract talks are ongoing and insiders seem to be auspicious that he’ll re-sign in Boston.
Whatever the contract is, the Bruins’ big resolution for 2023 should be to give Pastrnak his money and get him signed to a long-term deal. With a fairly weak offensive prospect pool, if the team wants to avoid a drastic rebuild in the next few years, they can’t afford to not re-sign him.
Maintain Team Chemistry
The Bruins have something special going for them right now and the front office should be careful about any additions or changes they make in the coming months, particularly with the trade deadline coming up on the horizon. They have finally found offensive line combinations that are generating depth they haven’t seen in recent years. They’ve also put together some great blue line pairings. Things clicked on the ice throughout the lineup in the final months of 2022, and the team should be striving to maintain that in 2023.
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Now, general manager Don Sweeney has done well at the trade deadline in recent seasons from last year’s Hampus Lindholm acquisition and the 2021 deal that brought Taylor Hall to Boston. Both players have been instrumental on this season’s roster. He’ll need to be careful this year to find the right pieces that will fit into the chemistry the team has going, particularly amongst the forward lines. They’ll really have to think long and hard about who will be the right fit to bring in for what will hopefully be a long playoff run in 2023.
Do Not Take Foot Off the Gas
Besides maintaining team chemistry, the Bruins’ roster can’t let up as 2023 begins. They have performed way better than anyone expected through the first 36 games, and they need to keep that energy going in the new year. They are six points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for first overall in the league and eight points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are currently second in the Atlantic Division.
While they obviously have a sizable lead, things can change quickly in the NHL. If the Bruins just have one bad week and the Leafs go on a tear, then they could easily drop into second in the division. Their terrific play at the end of 2022 needs to continue into 2023. Not being complacent and keeping their foot on the gas may be the most important resolution for the team if they want to take a real shot at the Stanley Cup in 2023.
Looking Ahead at January 2023
The Bruins have an exciting first month of the year ahead of them. Tomorrow they play in their fourth Winter Classic and second at Fenway Park. They’ll face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are currently fourth in the Metropolitan Division with a 19-11-6 record. The last time they faced each other back in November, the Bruins won 6-5 in overtime.
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The team will then embark on their California road trip to play the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and Anaheim Ducks. The following weekend they’ll face the Maple Leafs for the second time this season, which will be an interesting matchup between the first and second teams in the division. Finally, they’ll close the month playing the Hurricanes, another top team in the league, who are going to be looking for revenge after the Bruins beat them in their last meeting.