The Boston Bruins were fortunate this past off-season when the free-agent market opened, only losing two players, one of which was probably not going to be re-signed anyway, the other, well, let's just say was expendable .
This may not be the case at the conclusion of the 2011-12 NHL season. Next summer, with three players becoming restricted free agents and six others becoming unrestricted, there may only be one way to keep them in a Bruins sweater.
By winning a Stanley Cup Championship, again.
Boston Bruins goaltender of the future, Tuukka Rask, will become a restricted free agent when the upcoming season concludes.
Rask became the only rookie goaltender in the history of the NHL to lead the league with a .930 save percentage and have a sub-2.00 goals against average. He accomplished this feat when he won the starting job over Tim Thomas for the 2009-10 NHL season.
Needless to say, competing teams will be taking serious looks at him.
David Krejci will also become a restricted free agent next summer. If the Bruins lose him, that will leave a gaping hole at the center position on the Bruins first line. With Savard's return questionable, Krejci will be a key piece in the Bruins organization for years to come.
Krejci finished the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs leading the league with 23 points on 12 goals and 11 assists, with four of those goals being game-winners, making him arguably one of the best centers in the NHL.
Kelly plays solid zone defense, is strong on the penalty kill and won 53.7% of the face-offs he took, providing much needed depth up front.
Thornton can raise the energy level of the hometown fan-base as soon as his skates touch the ice. The fan's love him and the Bruins need him. He may only be a fourth-liner, but that line came through with many timely performances this past season and post-season.
Not too mention he is a major enforcer, leading the team in fighting majors with 14 and gives 110% every game.
Peverley and Paille bring their quickness to the Bruins speed-challenged front lines, while Corvo and Boychuk round out the blue-liners, both bringing intimidation and aggressiveness.
Corvo led all Carolina defensemen in goals (11), was second in assists (29), only being beat out for the lead with one assist by former teammate Joni Pitkanen.
He also led all Carolina defenseman in points (40) and power-play goals (5), was third in blocked shots (119), led the team in power-play assists (18) and was second in short-handed goals.
Corvo should bring what Kaberle couldn't to the blue-line, complimenting Chara's offensive capabilities.
If the Bruin's fail to win the Stanley Cup this coming season, or worse, fail to qualify for the playoffs, I fear that these players will take their services elsewhere.
I believe that the only way to keep the Boston Bruins current roster intact is to give these players the opportunity to win another championship.
If these players had the chance for consecutive championships, there would be no way they would leave Boston and miss that chance, no matter how much money they would be offered by other teams.
As unrealistic as that may sound, I speculate it is the only way the Bruins will stay dominant in the Eastern Conference without having to give up their players with super-star qualities.