For the past decade, the Boston Bruins have fallen short of high expectations and continue to disappoint their loyal fanbase. Following a quick exit from the bubble playoffs this season, the coaching staff and front office had a handful of decisions to make with regard to their roster and salary cap. Although their big names of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Jake Debrusk and David Pastrnak are still under some considerably long contracts, other role players have entered the free agency market. Even if their core players continue to play at a high offensive rate, a regression for the Boston Bruins seems inevitable next season.
Defense, defense, defense:
Defense wins championships. It’s a simple yet factual statement that is based on years of proof; hockey teams need a strong defensive tandem and a goaltender that is unfazed by the pressure during a Stanley Cup playoff run. This postseason, the Bruins had neither of those roster components as Tuukka Rask abruptly left the bubble, leaving the inexperienced Jaroslav Halak to save the Bruins’ Stanley Cup hopes. Additionally, the Bruins’ defense was atrocious in the bubble, especially against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who scored 19 goals in just five games. To add more salt to the wound, Torey Krug just signed a contract with the St. Louis Blues worth $45.5 million. One of the better two-way defenders in the NHL, Torey Krug‘s style of play vaulted the Bruins’ power play into one of the league’s best; he has a blistering slapshot and unbelievable vision in the offensive zone. Letting Torey Krug walk was one of the bigger mistakes that the Bruins could’ve made this offseason. I understand that professional sports is a business and that navigating the salary cap is a substantial task, but losing Krug is a big blow for the Bruins. Charlie McAvoy is one of the better young defensemen in the NHL, but he cannot backpack this defense. Zdeno Chara is on his last leg and is a liability on the ice, and Brandon Carlo doesn’t have enough offensive firepower to be a true franchise cornerstone. Let’s hope Tuukka Rask has another Vezina Trophy year because this defense might be in shambles come January.
Aging becomes a problem:
Hockey players are known for their longevity in the sport; much like baseball and basketball, players can play well into their 30s and still have productive years. However, they usually are not the same player they once were. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci are all nearing the twilight of their careers, and Tuukka Rask has considered retirement in the next few years. Even if these players continue to defy their age and play at high levels, the Bruins do not have enough prospects to fill their void once they leave. Their Stanley Cup window is closing and they continue to age — not the best recipe for a postseason run.
To be fair, this could be a rather pessimistic view of the upcoming season. The Bruins have a solid head coach in Bruce Cassidy and still have some of the best players in the NHL. If some young prospects make big jumps down in Providence, another Stanley Cup might be in the cards for this historic franchise. If not, this could be yet another disappointing season leaving the Boston Bruins with more questions than answers.