Regardless of whether or not the NHL resumes this season, the Bruins will be facing some tough decisions when it comes to the players whose contracts will be expiring in the off-season.
In total the Bruins have 20 freeagents-to-be in their organization, including 7 unrestricted free agents, with none more important than Torey Krug.
But Krug isn’t the only key member of the Bruins that management is going to have to make a decision on. Other interesting players who need new deals include Jaroslav Halak (UFA), Kevan Miller (UFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Zdeno Chara (UFA), Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), Anders Bjork (RFA), and Joakim Nordstrom (UFA).
At the same time, there will also be some interesting free agents around the league coming available that Don Sweeney & Co. may want to take a closer look at as well.
However, let’s stay in-house for now and take a look at th Bruins’ free agents and what may happen with each in the off-season.
Torey Krug (UFA)
Reasons why the Bruins should sign him: Krug is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league and is a crucial (arguably the lynchpin) component to the Bruins’ PP. When the season was put on hold, Krug was 6th in PPG among all defensemen and 1st in power play points.
Reasons against: Krug could very well demand a long-term deal north of $8 million per season. A contract like that could limit what else the Bruins can do this off-season, while also handcuffing them with the future negotiations of players like Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.
Predicted outcome: Krug, like other recent Bruins’ signings, takes a bit of a team friendly contract and signs for somewhere around $7mil per season over the next 6-7 years.
Jaroslav Halak (UFA)
Reasons why the Bruins should sign him: Halak has arguably been the best back-up goalie in the NHL over the last two seasons and despite being 35, could easily have a few more good seasons in him.
Reasons against: Halak deserves a raise, one that the Bruins probably can’t afford. In addition, the tremendous seasons that Dan Vladar and Maxime Legace are having in Providence this season may make Halak expendable in the off-season.
Predicted outcome: Halak signs with another team desperate for goaltending, for an overpayment.
Kevan Miller (UFA)
Reasons why the Bruins should sign him: When healthy, Miller had developed into a strong defender capable of playing significant minutes per game. Miller is also extremely well-liked by teammates on and off the ice, as he has always been willing to stand-up for his teammates in his 6+ years in Boston.
Reasons against: Quite simply Miller’s health, combined with his age, make him a gamble at best. Over the past 4 seasons Miller has only appeared in 165 of Boston’s 314 games.
Predicted outcome: Miller goes unsigned and perhaps we have seen him play his last game in the NHL.
Jake DeBrusk (RFA)
Reasons why the Bruins sign him: The former 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft possesses all the skills necessary to be a solid 2RW in the NHL for many years. However, consistency on both ends of the rink has been an issue in his early career. That being said, prior to the stoppage in play, DeBrusk was on his way a 2nd straight 20+ goal season.
Reasons against: With the Bruins having exclusive rights to negotiate with RFA DeBrusk, there aren’t many reasons why the Bruins don’t resign DeBrusk. He has, at times this season, fallen into Cassidy’s doghouse, but inconsistency for a third-year player in the NHL is nothing new.
Predicted outcome: The Bruins sign DeBrusk to a “prove-you-deserve-more” contract in the off-season. Perhaps good comparables might be the 3-year, $3.2mil per season deal that the Leafs signed Kasperi Kapanen to, or the 2-year, $3.65mil per season contract that Sam Reinhart has in Buffalo.
Zdeno Chara (UFA)
Reasons why the Bruins sign him: Besides the obvious that Chara is the leader of this team, Big Z is still one of the best penalty killers, and one of the most reliable players the Bruins can put on the ice when holding on to a lead in the dying minutes of a game.
Reasons against: The Bruins re-signing Chara in the off-season will depend on whether or not Chara wants to continue playing. At 43 years old, Chara is the oldest player in the league and is not getting any younger. He may feel that he’s played enough when the season officially ends, and that’s not getting into how fans feel about it.
Predicted outcome: Patrice Bergeron is going to have to wait another year to get that “C” on his jersey, as captain Zdeno Chara will re-sign to a very team-friendly one-year contract.
Matt Grzelcyk & Anders Bjork (RFAs)
Reasons why the Bruins resign them: Grzelcyk has proven himself to be a reliable 6th dman on the Bruins and could serve as an insurance policy if a Krug’s resigning becomes questionable. Bjork, on the other hand, has shown moments of promise and top-end skills, but has struggled to make a noticeable impact on a game-to-game basis. A Bjork contract extension, given his production to date, could come a discounted price.
Reasons against: These players have been grouped together, because both may not be signed by Boston to make room for some of the players listed above. Neither is indispensable, and although they may not require big contracts, in an uncertain cap-world, every dollar may count for the Bruins.
Predicted outcome: Both get modest raises and re-sign with the Bruins on 1-year contracts.
Joakim Nordstrom (UFA)
Reasons why the Bruins resign him: Nordstrom has been a very serviceable 4th liner over the past couple seasons and comes at very reasonable $1 million per season price.
Reasons against: Room will have to be made for the potential promotions of Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic from the AHL to the NHL. Although neither plays LW, players like Nordstrom still occupy roster spots that could be better utilized by other players.
Predicted outcome: Nordstrom signs with another NHL team in the off-season.
Besides the players discussed above, some other notable FAs include Jakub Zboril (RFA), Zach Senyshyn (RFA), Karson Kuhlman (RFA), AHL goalies Maxime Legace and Daniel Vladar (RFAs), and Brett Ritchie (RFA).
The first three players are likely easy to sign to minimal extensions, but the goalies could produce an interesting dilemma.
With so many contracts expiring whenever this season ends, it’s safe to say Don Sweeney is going to have a very busy summer, and some very crucial decisions to make before the Bruins line-up for the 2020-2021 season.
Any moves you disagree with above?