The Bruins have critical decisions to make this offseason
First of all, sorry for the lack of posts in the past almost two days. Been pretty busy and was too heartbroken last night to write about such a stunning loss, but it's time to suck it up and look towards next season. The Bruins have a solid core and should still earn a top 4 seed in the Eastern Conference barring something unforeseen next season.
Boston has 4 unrestricted free agents; Nathan Horton, Jaromir Jagr, Andrew Ference, and Anton Khudobin; and 1 restricted free agent; Tuukka Rask. The most obvious thing the Bruins must do is sign Rask to a long term deal. Although he faltered in the final 3 games of the Stanley Cup final, he has more than proven his worth as a top goaltender in the league, and should be looking at a major payday. That's the easy part.
Honestly, I could envision not one of the unrestricted free agents back in Boston next year. Nathan Horton is a strong first line wing with Lucic and Krejci, but he is replaceable, and may be looking for a bigger payday than the Bruins are willing to offer. A smilar situation could be the case with Ference as well. The emergence of young defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, and Matt Bartkowski also make Ference expendable.
Khudobin was just average backing up Rask this year, and he could be looking for an opportunity to win a starting job this offseason. He will not be able to do that in Boston, and there are plenty of opportunities to do that elsewhere.
Jagr quickly became loved by fans in Boston. Even though he lacked his usual scoring touch, his presence was obvious and his continued playmaking prevalent game after game. Although it would be nice to see him back for one last ride, it is most likely his time to finally go into retirement and eventually the Hall of Fame.
There are many players that could also have value in a trade around the draft for Boston. Adam McQuaid, Rich Peverley, and Tyler Seguin could all bring back some assets for the Bruins. Out of the three, I would say Seguin is the least likely to be traded. Even though he struggled in the playoffs I'm a huge fan of him, and he has yet to reach his prime at a young age of 21. McQuaid could be dealt because of the young defensemen pushing for playing time, and Peverley, although helpful is on the wrong side of 30 and is replaceable through the draft or a cheap free agent pickup.
Speaking of free agency, don't expect the Bruins to make any huge splashes this offseason. With less than $6 million in cap space, Boston will most likely be shopping in the bargain bin for savvy veterans who can push them over the top while their young talent develops in the AHL. Damien Brunner is a name to watch this during free agency, especially if Nathan Horton signs elsewhere. He would bring an attacking style to Boston, similar to Brad Marchand, and would be a strong addition to one of their top 3 lines.
Overall, I think the Bruins will look to bolster their attack through free agency, as their defense looks deep and talented. They might need wingers to replace Jagr and/or Horton, and Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli need to find the right options to push them over the hump to win another championship. I have no doubts Boston will be one of the top teams in the NHL again next season, I'm just hoping they have enough to be able to hoist the Cup one year from now.