Although the Boston Bruins did not go on a shopping spree this offseason, general manager (GM) Don Sweeney made some excellent moves that are worth addressing. Truthfully, if they each work out, it could be enough for the Bruins to keep their Stanley Cup window open for one last season. Let’s look at the best moves Sweeney made this offseason and why they should benefit the club in 2022-23.
Bruins Re-Sign Patrice Bergeron
After the Bruins lost in the first round to the Carolina Hurricanes, Patrice Bergeron was not ready to confirm if would play during the 2022-23 season. Naturally, this led to panic amongst Bruins fans, as Bergeron is the heart of the team and captain. Thankfully, however, Sweeney convinced the future Hall-of-Famer to return to the club and inked him to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. Although the deal also comes with $2.5 million of incentives, getting Bergeron back at that price is a major win for the Bruins.
With Bergeron remaining with the Bruins, they are heading into the 2022-23 season with playoff aspirations yet again. Had the 37-year-old elected to retire, this absolutely would not have been the case and talks of rebuilding would have been escalated. Even at this juncture of his career, he is still both their best center and two-way forward, so replacing him would have been impossible. Yet, Sweeney got the job done and deserves praise for it.
Bergeron will now be looking to build off of an excellent 2021-22 campaign. In 73 regular-season games, he had 26 goals, 65 points, and a plus-26 rating. With that, he won his NHL-record fifth Frank J. Selke Award as the league’s best defensive forward. If he can put together another marvelous season like that, the Bruins will be in excellent shape, so yes, re-signing him was the team’s best offseason move.
Bruins Bring Back David Krejci
When David Krejci left the Bruins last offseason to go back home to Czechia, they were left with a massive hole down the middle. Krejci was their longtime second-line center, and it was very difficult to replace his production in the lineup last season. Although Erik Haula filled in fairly nicely, the depth down the middle was nowhere close to being strong enough to win a Stanley Cup. Thus, the Bruins re-signing Krejci to a one-year deal has the potential to be the team’s second-best move this offseason.
Krejci’s last season with the Bruins in 2020-21 was strong, and it will be huge if he can replicate it from here. In 51 games, he only had eight goals, but he also recorded an impressive 36 points. Yet, it’s important to note that his production notably went up after the Bruins acquired Taylor Hall. This allowed him the opportunity to play alongside a legitimate top-six winger again, and it will be exciting to see what he can do with him during a full season. With that, David Pastrnak is also expected to start the season on his line, so Krejci will be put in a position to succeed. If he proves to still be an effective playmaker at the NHL level, the Bruins could sport the league’s top second line this campaign.
With the Bruins having limited cap space this offseason, they were unable to go after free-agent centers like Nazem Kadri, Vincent Trocheck, and Ryan Strome. Thus, signing Krejci to a one-year, $1 million contract (with $2 million of incentives) is another massive win from Sweeney this offseason. If the 36-year-old can put together a 60-point season at least, this contract will be a complete and utter steal.
Bruins Acquire Pavel Zacha
The last notable move that the Bruins made this offseason was acquiring Pavel Zacha from the New Jersey Devils. Although this trade forced them to trade Haula, it has the potential to be a real win for the Bruins. At this juncture of his career, Zacha is probably best described as being a middle-six forward, just like Haula. However, with the 2015 first-round pick being just 25 years old, he still has the potential to take that next step in his development. Perhaps the change of scenery to Boston could be what sparks him to do just that.
In 70 games this past season with the Devils, Zacha scored 15 goals and recorded 36 points. Overall, adding that kind of production to the Bruins’ lineup will certainly be beneficial, but he has shown in the past that he is capable of doing even more. For example, during the 2020-21 season, he had 35 points but in only 50 games. If he can get to that pace of production again, he could end up being a major addition to the Bruins’ lineup.
Zacha will likely be put into an excellent position at the very start of the season, too. With Brad Marchand expected to miss the beginning of the year due to offseason hip surgery, it very well could open the door to Zacha playing first-line minutes. This, in turn, could lead to the 25-year-old producing far more regularly. With that, we also should see him receive plenty of opportunities on the Bruins’ power-play unit.
Nevertheless, it’s fair to say that Sweeney has made some pretty solid moves this offseason. Getting Bergeron and Krejci to return for another season means that they will remain as contenders, while Zacha has the potential to provide them with much-needed secondary scoring. If Sweeney can extend Pastrnak before the start of the season, he will earn himself an A grade for his offseason moves.