Will Bruins run it back in 2022? Neely gives interesting take originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Bruins have some huge decisions to make this summer.
Perhaps the biggest one is whether to fortify the roster for another run at the Stanley Cup or instead look toward the future and make moves for the long term.
The smart play is trying to make one more run with the veteran core.
Bruins president Cam Neely was asked Tuesday during his season-ending media availability about taking a hard look at the team’s roster this summer. It sounds like he wants to give this group one more crack at the Stanley Cup.
“It will really depend on what happens with some of the (unrestricted free agents) we’re going to look to try and sign. We have some holes that if we can’t get those guys signed, that might dictate what kind of direction we might have to go in,” Neely explained.
“I can tell you this, I know (Brad) Marchand and (Patrice) Bergeron, understandably, would like us to take another run. If we get the pieces signed that we’d like to, I think it’s worth taking one more shot at it here, depending on what we can do on the back end as well.”
The unrestricted free agents who Neely is referring to could include second-line center David Krejci, second-line left winger Taylor Hall, defenseman Mike Reilly and goaltender Tuukka Rask. They are four of seven UFAs from Boston’s playoff roster.
Krejci and Hall absolutely need to be re-signed for the Bruins to make another title run. The team doesn’t have any quality internal options to replace either player. If Krejci or Hall leave, the second line would immediately go from a strength to a weakness. Reilly could potentially fetch a contract on the open market that’s richer than what the B’s would like to pay, but he was a good fit on the blue line after Boston acquired him at the trade deadline. It makes sense to keep Reilly at the right price.
Goaltending is another hugely important area for the Bruins to address this summer with Rask hitting free agency. The 34-year-old netminder also plans to have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip that bothered him during the 2021 playoffs. But even without Rask, the Bruins seem comfortable with their goalie situation entering next season.
“Tuukka (Rask) is up in the air with his surgery, so we’ll see where that goes, but we’re pretty confident in our goaltenders with Jeremy Swayman and also (Dan) Vladar,” Neely said.
“We haven’t seen enough of Vladar, but Swayman gave us a little bit of a taste of what type of goalie he can be in the NHL. So we feel pretty comfortable starting the season with him.”
The Bruins will need to replenish their prospect pool at some point in the near future. It’s arguably the worst in the league, and not drafting in the first round two of the last three years certainly contributed to that.
But given the age and talent of Boston’s veteran core, plus young stars such as Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak, the Bruins’ best offseason approach should be an aggressive one that looks to address roster holes with the hopes of competing for the Stanley Cup in 2022.