NHL 2022 Offseason Guide: The Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins had a solid season in 2022, making the playoffs before falling to the Canes in seven games. The Bruins finished the season with a record of 51-26-5, good for fourth place in the Atlantic. I think this team has a small chance to make a deep run. They have potential, just need to make the right offseason moves and play solid come next season. Aging players and bad contracts are slowly looming in the balance. Can Don Sweeney turn this organization around before a full on rebuild occurs?
I think this team has a small chance to make a deep run because their stars are aging a ton and their young guys are not as good as expected. Hindsight is always 20/20, and you can’t predict this sort of stuff, but what a failure the 2015 draft was. Three first-round picks in a row, and all three turned out to be straight garbage. They were Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zach Senyshyn. Zboril played in 10 games this season before tearing his ACL, producing three assists as a D-man. Senyshyn played in 14 games under the Bruins organization, with 6 seasons in the AHL. He produced two points in the show, and that’s not going to cut it.
Their young guys just are not performing as well as they need to. DeBrusk finished with 42 points in 77 games, just under a point every two games. Guys like Marchand (34) Charlie Coyle/Taylor Hall (30), Patrice Bergeron (36) are all up there in age and can’t perform as well. There has been some promise on the roster, though. Some names include Jeremy Swayman, David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm, and Brandan Carlo. I think Sweeney can maybe salvage a season or two more before they blow it up.
Honestly, the Bruins made a big mistake by firing Bruce Cassidy. They got Jim Montgomery in return but should have fired Sweeney instead. Almost the entirety of the team is on 1-to-2-year deals, so they have to try and win now. Yes, you can try to maintain the core of the team, but I don’t know how long they may want to stay in Boston. A lot of the offseason moves come down to Patrice Bergeron re-signing or not. I think a main need is signing Bergeron to a veteran’s minimum for leadership, and then get a second line center. Eric Haula had 18 goals and 26 assists for 44 points. Not bad for him, his 2nd highest point scoring season, but they could do better. There is mutual interest for re-signing Curtis Lazar, but the Bruins cannot overpay. I’ve seen this happen too many times where a team will overpay for a bottom-six forward and it not work out. I think they should let go of Anton Blidh. Yes, he is 19, but he played a total of 32 games, mainly on the bottom-six, producing 9 points. They should trade DeBrusk, as it’s similar to the Tyler Bertuzzi situation. He was two goals shy of tying his career high from 2018, and I think he can hold some value. Lastly, Sweeney needs to sign Pasta to an extension. He is the superstar of this team, and a lot of the success comes on his shoulders. It’s going to come at a hefty price, but I think it’s the right move in the end.
The Bruins aren’t looking too good in terms of cap. Similar to the Jets, they have a lot of players aging out and most of their team on contracts between 1-3 years. However, if Sweeney somehow plays his cards right, he can save this franchise from a full-on rebuild. The team has approximately $2.4 million in the bank, with four upcoming UFA’s. The players are Bergeron, Blidh, Lazar, and Josh Brown. I’ve already mentioned what I think should happen with three of these four, but with Josh Brown I think they should let him walk. Playing six games on the season, producing just six points, I don’t see a fit for him.
The Bruins and the NHL draft have had a rough relationship over the past eight years. Looking at this list of past drafts, they’ve had some good ones, like 2014 and 2016. They’ve also had some awful draft years. This season they have a 2nd, a 3rd from Calgary, a 4th, 6th, and two 7ths (one from Ottawa). They had a first-round pick, but they traded it to Anaheim in exchange for Hampus Lindholm. One draft target to potentially replace Bergy down the road would be Mississauga C Luca Del Bel Belluz. He finished the 2021 season with 30 goals and 44 assists in 67 games. At 6-foot-1, 179-pounds he needs to work on his size, but he can shoot the puck and dish it around just fine. I think he can be a great product for the city of Boston, hopefully he pans out good.
All stats in this article come from hockey-reference.com, and all salary cap info comes from capfriendly.com