Heading into the offseason, not many Bruins fans expected fireworks. However, they all should have expected improvement to a squad that got thoroughly outplayed on every level in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to a talented Tampa Bay Lightning team.
Three weeks after the Washington Capitals hoisted the coveted Stanley Cup trophy, the Boston Bruins have not made any changes to their roster. There’s still time of course, but two of the biggest pieces have already been ruled out for the black and gold.
Defenseman Noah Hannifin, traded to Calgary from Carolina, was reportedly a target of the Bruins, and would’ve filled a need for a top four left shot d-man. Hannifin hasn’t lived up to the hype of being selected fifth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, but he has shown flashes of what he can become. Hannifin would’ve been the perfect compliment on a defensive pair with Charlie McAvoy, but that option has been ruled out.
Rumors are swirling that center John Tavares has narrowed his list down to only two teams, the San Jose Sharks and the Toronto Maple Leafs, which means the Bruins might have missed out on the Tavares sweepstakes. While it is a bit unfair to criticize the team for not landing the top free agent, the Bruins, frankly, needed Tavares.
The first line of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak, is undoubtedly one of the best top lines in all of hockey, but their secondary scoring has left much to be desired, especially in the postseason, when they faced a legit defensive core.
John Tavares, a top 12 player in the league, would’ve elevated the Bruins to a top three team instantly, and would’ve given the Bruins the flexibility to pair Pastrnak with a center that can keep up with him. With Tavares off the table, secondary scoring remains a big concern for the Spoked B.
While the Bruins are littered with young talent, including many prospects that have yet to debut in the NHL, one must consider how many more years of high end play the veteran core has to offer.
Zdeno Chara has contacted Tom Brady about the whereabouts of the Fountain of Youth, but Father Time remains undefeated, and while Chara’s plant-based diet has helped him elevate his game in his later years, he will be 42 years old by the time the 2019 postseason begins.
Patrice Bergeron will be 33 years old by the time the new season begins, and while he still has more than a couple years left in the tank, one can only wonder when Father Time will start to catch up with the star center.
Hell, even goaltender Tuukka Rask will be 32 years old by the end of the 2018-2019 campaign.
The time to capitalize on the veteran core’s last couple of years of top end play is now. General manager Don Sweeney has done an excellent job in restocking the farm system for the Boston Bruins, but that’s only half of the equation.
The second half, and perhaps the harder part, is identifying which prospects are worth keeping, and which prospects should be dealt in order to acquire established talent, with term on their contract.
If Sweeney decides to stay put with the same roster he gave head coach Bruce Cassidy this past season, this offseason will be deemed a failure.