In March 2016, the Boston Bruins looked destined to return to the playoffs after a one year hiatus. However, the team limped to the end of the season, losing 9 of 12 games and missing out on the postseason because of a tie breaker with the Detroit Red Wings. Once a perennial championship contender, the Bruins have been only average the last two years and may be on the verge of some major changes.
Boston was led by a trio of 30 year old forwards: Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Loui Eriksson. The three scored the most points on the squad, while 28 year old Brad Marchand was tops with 37 goals (4th in points). They finished as the 5th highest scoring team in the league, but their defensive and goaltending shortcomings kept them from the postseason. Tuukka Rask, the former Vezina Trophy winner, was simply average this season, in part because of a weak defensive group in front of him.
Pending Free Agents: 30 goal scorer Eriksson is an unrestricted free agent and will almost assuredly take a big money deal somewhere else. With the money the team has invested in Krejci, Bergeron, Marchand, Rask and 39 year old defenseman Zdeno Chara (total of almost $33M), Eriksson will likely find a new home.
Defenseman Torey Krug is a restricted free agent, but as one of the few young, bright spots on defense, the team will have to give him an extension. Backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson played well, but the team may move on and give the spot to 2012 first round pick Malcolm Subban.
Draft Picks: The Bruins have two first round picks in this year’s draft after acquiring San Jose’s. While neither of the picks are very high (14thand 30th), the team could use them to either move up in the draft or trade for a quality pro. The team desperately needs youth on defense, but at 14, they may be stuck taking a forward instead of reaching for a less talented blue liner.
Free Agent Additions: There are not many top pairing defensemen available as free agents, but the team could make a play for Keith Yandle or Alex Goligoski. Both would be a major improvement over what they have now, but they won’t come cheap. Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie would be an expensive trade target, but he would fill a huge need. Sami Vatanen and Jonas Brodin are also potential trade targets.