Bruins 2022 free agents, draft goals, offseason guide after NHL playoff loss | Launderer’s report
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Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
The Boston Bruins were eliminated from the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-2 loss in Game 7 of their first-round series to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday at PNC Arena.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has spent the better part of the past few seasons putting pieces around veterans Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, such as Taylor Hall and Hampus Lindholm, in hopes of making another Cup run Stanley.
That said, Saturday’s loss was disappointing for the Noir et Or, who finished the regular season ranked fourth in the Atlantic Division with a 51-26-5 record.
With yet another season on the books and no Stanley Cups to show for, the Bruins will return to the drawing board this offseason in hopes of improving their squad for the 2022-23 campaign.
So, let’s take a look at Boston’s free agents, some draft goals, and what to expect going forward.
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Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Patrice Bergeron (UFA), Jesper Froden (UFA), Curtis Lazar (UFA), Jack Studnicka (RFA), Anton Blidh (UFA), Josh Brown (UFA), Jack Ahcan (RFA), Troy Grosenick (UFA), Jakub Zboril (UFA)
No other player on Boston’s free agent list is more important than Bergeron, the team’s captain.
The veteran center has been a staple on the Bruins roster since being selected in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. The 2011 Stanley Cup champion and four-time Selke Prize winner enjoyed an incredible 18-year career, scoring 400 goals and 582 assists for 982 points in 1,216 games.
At 36, he has shown no signs of slowing down in the 2021-22 season either, tallying 25 goals and 40 assists for 65 points in 73 games. It was his ninth consecutive season with at least 20 goals and 48 points.
That said, Bergeron’s future in Boston and in the NHL is uncertain. The native of Quebec mentioned in September that he would wait until after the 2021-22 campaign to decide his fate, and he has not definitively ruled out retirement.
However, Sweeney said in September that he had contract negotiations with Bergeron and that how long he wanted to stay a Bruin was up to him.
Bergeron has just completed a deal that has earned him $6.875 million a year. It’s unclear how much he’s looking to return for another season.
In addition to Bergeron, other notable free agents include youngsters Studnicka, Ahcan and Zboril. Studnicka and Ahcan are still in development but impressed when they were recalled by the AHL’s Providence Bruins, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them re-sign this season.
Zboril, meanwhile, finally broke through Boston’s roster at the start of the 2021-22 season, but suffered a torn ACL after playing just 10 games. The 25-year-old has shown a lot of improvement in this short time and would be worth bringing back on a relatively inexpensive deal.
Players like Lazar and Blidh, who played big roles, could likely leave Boston this summer, as the Bruins have always been good at replacing those kinds of players on cheaper deals. See for example By Lindholm, Sean Kuraly and Karson Kuhlman.
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The Bruins don’t have a first-round pick in 2022 after trading him to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Lindholm at the deadline, making the season’s outcome all the more disappointing given Boston’s struggle. struggling to build for the future and could have used a first-round selection.
Here’s a look at the picks they have in the 2022 draft:
- A second-round pick
- A third-round pick
- A fourth-round pick
- A sixth-round pick
- Two seventh-round picks
That said, the Bruins could use some depth both offensively and defensively. They’re set in sight for at least the next few years with Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark in charge of the crease, so there’s no need there.
Provided those players slip into the second round, Luca Del Bel Belluz, Noah Warren and Lane Hutson could be intriguing options for the Bruins.
Belluz, a center, spent the 2021-22 season with the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6’1″, 179-pound forward had 30 goals and 45 assists for 76 points in 68 games.
NHL Central Scouting ranked Belluz as the 11th best North American skater, ahead of players such as Isaac Howard and Adam Ingram. He has great agility, edge work and weaving ability that would help him thrive in a Bruins offense as a point guard and shooter.
Warren, a defenseman, spent the 2021-22 campaign with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL. The 6’5″, 214-pound defenseman had five goals and 19 assists for 24 points in 58 games.
Warren isn’t an offensive defenseman, and the Bruins certainly don’t need that with McAvoy and Grzelcyk on board. He thrives defensively, winning puck battles and using solid positioning to force opponents into mistakes. He would be an intriguing addition and one that shouldn’t be ruled out.
Hutson, a defenseman, spent the 2021-22 season with the United States national team development program and is expected to play college hockey at Boston University in 2023-24. Considering he’ll be playing in a system that has helped develop both Grzelcyk and McAvoy, Hutson would be a great addition.
The 5’8″, 148-pound defenseman is definitely small, but smaller Grzelcyk and Torey Krug have thrived in Boston’s defensive unit. He had six goals and 26 assists for 32 points in 27 games for the USNTDP last season.
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Mark Humphrey/Associated Press
Since the Bruins frequently explore the free agent market, let’s take a look at some possible free agent targets for 2022, including Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames, Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators and Vincent Trocheck of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Gaudreau will be one of the most expensive forwards out there, but putting him in a top six that includes Bergeron, Marchand, David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall would make the Bruins lethal.
The Boston College product had a career year in the 2021-22 campaign, tallying 40 goals and 75 assists for 115 points in 82 games. Boston could use that kind of production, so they should at least check it out.
Forsberg will also be one of the most expensive forwards available, but he would also be a solid addition to Boston’s top six. He scored 42 goals and 42 assists for 84 points in 69 games during the 2021-22 campaign.
Trocheck, meanwhile, had 21 goals and 30 assists for 51 points in 81 games for the Hurricanes in 2021-22.
Any of those players would be a terrific addition for the Bruins, especially since they could use a few more points, as evidenced by their inability to score in this year’s playoffs.