With the Bruins losing this past week many fans and even some of the players are stuck wondering what’s next?
Has their window for a Stanley Cup slammed shut in their faces?
It’s not as simple as open or closed for the B’s as they lie right in the middle with a core of aging veterans and a platoon of young talent coming up from Providence.
For Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney this is one of, if not, the biggest offseason of his career as the GM of the Bruins. With decisions in front of him with players like Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Tuukka Rask, Sweeney has his plate full.
The Bruins showed in their last playoff series that this team is not ready to win a Stanley Cup and can’t hang with the Vegas Golden Knights and the Tampa Bay Lightnings of the world. So, what can Sweeney do to keep their window open and have a chance at a cup?
Sweeney has built a decent roster but with a clear need for size in front of the net, on both ends of the ice, he needs to change some things. Not to say that he needs to go out and get a bunch of Pat Maroons or Nick Ritchies, but they do need some help with puck possession and someone who is willing to get their nose dirty in the middle of the ice.
On the other side of the team the Bruins have huge questions around their defensive core as two of their top four defensemen – Chara and Krug – are in contract years. For the 43-year-old captain Zdeno Chara, he has stated that he wants to keep playing.
“I’m positive I can still play and contribute to this game,” the B’s captain said in a Zoom call. “I want to be in Boston. I’m committed. We’ll see what’s gonna happen next.”
The 6-foot-9 giant has made it known that Boston is his home and he doesn’t want to play anywhere else and his affinity for the city.
“I love Boston, I love the city, and I think we have the best fans in the world. I have no plans to move on or go anywhere else.”
So, Sweeney and the Bruins need to decide what they want to do with Chara because his legs were clearly slowing down and he couldn’t stand up against top-end talent during 5-on-5 play. What the Bruins could do is bring him back as a third defensive pairing with Connor Clifton or Jeremy Lauzon and have him as a penalty killing specialist.
Chara recorded a plus 28 while he was on the ice this season marking that as the eight best in all of hockey and he was the most used penalty killer in Boston and third in the whole league. So, he’s still got some tread on the tires and some gas in the tank for at least another year, but the Bruins will have to be smart as to when they use him.
For Krug, it looks like it is coming to an emotional end for him in the black and gold as he appears to be on his way out to go and get a new juicy contract. Krug has been one of the best offensive defensemen in recent memory to come into the league, especially at his size of 5-foot-9. He knows the kind of contract he is going to be offered is somewhere north of $7 million per year and that’s a number the Bruins can’t match considering they still need to sign Jake Debrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Karson Khulman and Chara. There’s been thought of Krug maybe taking a one-year bridge deal at least until they can clear Krejci and Rask off the books for $7 million each, but Krug has voiced his opinion in opposition of it.
“Yeah, I’m very opposed to that, I’ve bet on myself and I’ve taken shorter term deals for less amount of money for my whole career now,” said Krug “This is my time in terms of my value at its peak. I’m in a position now where I need to make the most of it. I’ve done it long enough now and that’s the situation I’m facing.”
If it is the end for Krug in Boston, the undrafted, 185-pound defenseman brought his all every game. The Bruins are going to miss his feisty personality and his offensive production but Boston will always have the memory of him skating down the ice in the Stanley Cup Finals, no helmet, hair flowing, to lay a crushing hit on Robert Thomas.