Boston Bruins: With free agency approaching, it’s time to build a contender

Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The NHL offseason is set to kick into high gear very soon. With the Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft, and then the NHL Draft set to take place within the next week, things are about to get hectic. Yet for the Boston Bruins, much of the chatter has been geared towards free agency, and for good reason.

After yet another disappointing playoff exit, time is running out for these Bruins to raise another Stanley Cup. It seems almost criminal that guys like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, and David Krejci have only won one Cup during their time in Boston, and if things don’t change soon, it’s going to stay that way.

The draft is always a time for excitement around the league, regardless of where your team is picking. And while that is true for the Bruins, they have to be more focused on getting their star core some help.

This team lives and dies on the performance of “The Perfection Line”, which consists of Bergeron, Marchand, and David Pastrnak. And every season, they end up in the same spot, wondering where things went wrong after a playoff run that feels too short. Their season being ended at the hands of the New York Islanders was the biggest wake up call that the Bruins just don’t have enough depth to go far in the playoffs.

That has to change this offseason. The Bruins have been shamefully wasting the careers of their veterans by failing to get them any sort of help, and if they keep that up, they will all be gone before the B’s know it. If things are going to change, this has to be the offseason where that change is put into action.

What do the Boston Bruins need to do to build a legit Stanley Cup contender?

As ironic as it may sound, the most important thing the Boston Bruins need to do this offseason is resign their own free agents. They have already gotten a head start on this by resigning Brandon Carlo to a team friendly deal, which is a great start. But it can’t stop there.

David Krejci and Taylor Hall are both free agents now, and both need to be back on the Bruins second line next season. They had to learn how to play with each other on the fly, but pairing Krejci with Hall and Craig Smith gave him his best set of linemates in quite some time. This line struggled at times in the playoffs, but give them a full season to work with each other and the results will start to come.

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Both made it quite clear they would like to return to Boston at their end of season press conferences, and the Bruins would be wise to take them up on that offer. But after them, the waters become a bit murkier.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is a free agent as well, and public opinion has been quite divided on whether or not he should return. Rask has made it clear that he can’t see himself playing somewhere other than Boston, but the question is whether or not the B’s even want him to return. Jeremy Swayman showed this past season that he should be considered the Bruins goalie of the future, and it may be time to hand him the reigns.

Rask may ultimately return on a team friendly deal, but the Bruins should not be shelling out a ton of money to get him back. They should be using their extra money to reinforce the defense and their third and fourth attacking lines.

The biggest free agent defender the Bruins have is midseason acquisition Mike Reilly. Reilly was solid during his time with Boston, and made a good pairing with Carlo on the second line. The Bruins may ultimately let Reilly walk, but the problem is they would have to find a replacement for him, which is going to be a tall task.

The Bruins should do what they can to bring back Reilly. After that, the goal has to be shoring up their third and fourth forward lines. Both units were pretty much useless for the majority of the playoffs, and need to be reconstructed if this team intends on making any noise next season. We saw firsthand with Nick Ritchie being left unprotected for the expansion draft that Boston means business when it comes to fixing these lines.

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Whether it be through free agency, a trade, or even the draft, the Bruins need to revamp their depth in a big way. But if they don’t retain their key core of free agents, there will have been no point in acquiring that depth. Time is running out for the Boston Bruins to build a Stanley Cup contender with this current team, and they need a big offseason in order to allow them to make one last run for the Cup.