Where do the Boston Bruins go from their tough Game 7 loss?

Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

The Boston Bruins once again fell short in their quest for the Stanley Cup, as the Carolina Hurricanes put the B’s away by a score of 3-2 in Game 7 yesterday afternoon. It’s another disappointing finish to the playoffs for Boston, as they continue to squander their chances of raising the Cup.

With the culmination of each passing season, it seems like the Bruins head into the offseason with more and more question marks on their roster. Last season, nobody really knew what the status was surrounding guys like Tuukka Rask and David Krejci. Now they face the same dilemma with arguably the most important Bruin over the past two decades in Patrice Bergeron.

The same issues that plagued Boston over the past few seasons popped up again this season, and it just so happened that they ran into a much more formidable opponent in the first round this season than in seasons past. Their lack of depth on both offense and defense has continued to be major issue that goes unsolved with each passing season, and once again will need to be addressed this offseason.

But this offseason feels different. The Bruins have wasted the past few seasons of their Stanley Cup contention, and with Bergeron potentially retiring, it may be time for a complete overhaul of both the roster and the front office/coaching staff. So that leads to the big question in the aftermath of Game 7; where do the Bruins go from here?

The Boston Bruins offseason revolves around Patrice Bergeron

It’s quite clear the Bruins offseason is going to depend heavily on what Bergeron decides to do. Bergy is set for unrestricted free agency, and it’s not so much a question of whether he wants to return to Boston, but whether he wants to keep playing hockey. Bergeron will be 37 in July, and while the Bruins have been aggressive in wanting to re-sign Bergeron, he has decided to push off his decision until the offseason, which just so happens to be upon us now.

As long as Bergeron is playing, the B’s are going to try to build a contender. Bergeron is the glue that holds everything together for the Bruins right now, and as long as he keeps playing, Boston will be a playoff team. But if he decides to hang up his skates, it could send the Bruins offseason in a completely different direction.

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If Bergeron decides to keep on playing, Boston is going to have to re-sign him first before once again trying to find some depth to complement him and the top two lines. The Bruins admiradbly replaced the loss of Krejci from last offseason on the second line, but their third and fourth lines were close to useless once again.

Guys like Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek, who were signed last offseason to address the same issue they face this offseason, just didn’t pan out the way they were expected to. And now it’s going to be back to the drawing board to try to find people who can take the burden off the Boston Bruins best players.

The defensive depth is in a bit better shape, but it still isn’t where it should be. Connor Clifton, Derek Forbort, and Mike Reilly were inconsistent all season long before finally establishing themselves against the ‘Canes, but you can’t count on all three of them to be solid moving forward.

Even Matt Grzelcyk, who is realistically supposed to be one of the team’s top defenders, was so bad in their series against Carolina he got dropped entirely from the lineup once Hampus Lindholm returned. Finding another consistent piece or two would be helpful, but for the most part the Bruins defense held their own against a tough Hurricanes offense.

OK, sounds familiar; what should the Boston Bruins do if Patrice Bergeron retires?

If Bergeron retires though, then the Bruins are going to be in a bit of an unfamiliar situation. They would be looking to try to build a contender without the anchor of their top line on board. And while they will still have some solid talent on their roster, that’s a huge hole on their roster that would make them a borderline playoff team at best.

The immediate question is should the Bruins rebuild in this scenario. Realistically, they should, but that’s easier said than done. They have key pieces they could build around in Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak, but they still have a ton of veteran pieces who wouldn’t fit a rebuild. They also don’t have a ton of prospects who would be looking to establish themselves on a non-contending team.

They could conceivably have a firesale, but given how intent general manager Don Sweeney has been on building a contender through trades and the free agent market, that seems unlikely. Whether Sweeney still has a job with the Bruins this offseason is a discussion for another time, but questions remain whether he is the right guy to lead this team through the post-Bergeron era.

Overhauling the front office if Bergeron retires could be a legitimate consideration though, especially considering Sweeney’s poor track record when it comes to drafting talent. If that were to happen, it’s more likely a rebuild would be on Boston’s hands, but otherwise it seems unlikely.

Next. Bruins championship window has officially closed. dark

Bergeron retiring would leave a huge hole that the Boston Bruins simply could not replace with one player. Their championship window has most likely closed, unless something drastic happens this offseason, but it’s worth trying to build a contender if Bergeron is still playing. But if not, it may be in the Bruins best interest to start from scratch.