Breaking down the Boston Bruins head coach opening

Former Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Former Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /
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Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

Building the team will be very difficult for the Boston Bruins

Description: You will get to lead a roster that will be without three key players to start the season, the captain might retire, the star scorer is on an expiring deal (so his name could be circulated in trade rumors non-stop), little cap room to make changes, and the general manager is responsible for the lack of young, pro-ready talent.

It’s expected that Brad Marchand (double hip surgeries), Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk will miss the start of the 2022-23 season. Marchand and McAvoy may not be back until December, while Grzelcyk could return in November.

Patrice Bergeron just won his NHL record fifth Selke Trophy, so it’s clear the Bruins captain is still playing at an elite level after 18 seasons. The question is whether Bergeron has the desire to continue playing. Bergeron put off talks for a new deal before the 2021-22 season started, and has remained coy on his status early on in the offseason.

Bergeron obviously has a big decision to make. He had elbow surgery this off-season, so he accepted his Selke Trophy one-handed. If he has had enough of the physical toll and the mental grind of the game, he could end up calling it a career.

It’s worth wondering whether Bergeron will consider the team’s current situation before making a decision. Does he feel the Bruins can be competitive next season? Is he willing to be involved in a team rebuild? Knowing Marchand, McAvoy, and Grzelcyk won’t be available to start the season, does Bergeron fear the team will be behind the eight ball by the time the gang is back together?

On top of that, his linemate Jake DeBrusk may finally get his trade request satisfied, and David Pastrnak has a year left on his contract. Despite Pastrnak’s agent saying extension negotiations will begin in July, if they can’t reach an agreement before the start of the season, Pastrnak’s name will be prominent in trade rumors.

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To come to an agreement, the Bruins must clear a lot of space. According to Puckpedia, the Bruins have less than $2 million of cap space available to augment the roster. Pastrnak earned a raise from the $6.6 million he will get next season. So how will the Bruins make room to pay Pastrnak around $10 million/year, and re-sign Bergeron? Sweeney has his work cut out for him.

And Sweeney has only made his job harder on himself due to years of poor drafting. He will never be able to live down the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft, but he’s had a few solid selections. Most were defensemen. The failure to scout forwards has caught up to the Bruins as they had to spend more in free agency and trades to build the team.

There’s some hope on the horizon. College free agent Marc McLaughlin was a late season addition to the roster, and he scored a goal in his first game as a Bruin. He ended up chipping in three goals in eleven games, so he could be part of the secondary scoring solution moving forward.

John Beecher could be the power forward the Bruins had been missing for years. He needs some seasoning, but at 6-3, 209 pounds, he starts with great size with room to grow. If his skill develops along with his body, Beecher could be an impact player. But that could take a year or two.

The same can be suggested about Fabian Lysell. He was productive for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL (22 goals, 40 assists, 62 points in 53 games), but he’s years away from changing his address to the TD Garden.

The new coach might not have the time for the arrivals of Beecher and Lysell. This coach will have to get the most out of the likes of Jack Studnicka and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. Based on what they’ve shown, the next coach might not have much to work with in those two.