The Boston Bruins were eliminated from the 2020-21 NHL postseason Wednesday night and within hours, talk of what the team will do next was front and center news. As some have put it, the end of this season could bring a changing of the guard in Boston as players like Patrice Bergeron come closer to the end of their run, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask might not be back and the team is aging.
Some wonder how the Bruins defense collapsed simply be losing Brandon Carlo. It opened up the option for Mathew Barzal to take over. Many suggest that if the Bruins want to continue to contend in the playoffs and go for another Stanley Cup before the team’s top players age out, major upgrades are needed on the blue line.
Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski of ESPN took a look at some of the offseason questions the Boston Bruins are facing and they focused on UFAs Krejci, Rask, Taylor Hall and Mike Reilly. All are pending free agents, some aren’t a lock to be back.
Rask, 34, didn’t want to talk about his future after Wednesday’s loss. Understandably so. He says he’s going to take some time away, assess his situation and then decide if he’ll want to continue playing. Should he, the Bruins won’t be the only team interested in his services. Should he not, the Bruins will have to hope the emergence of Jeremy Swayman is enough and that they can land another option in free agency or trade.
As for Krejci, who is now 35, it is assumed the two sides will talk about an extension but he’ll have to be comfortable taking a large pay cut from his $7.5 million per season if he wants to come back. He fits well on the second line with Taylor Hall, but it’s not clear how much less he’d be willing to take on an extension and how long he wants that extension to be. As one Bruins reporter put it, “If this is it for David Krejci in Boston, what a career it was.” He added, “For over a decade, the Bruins never had to worry about center depth down the middle. Incredibly clutch when it mattered most. A Cup champ. And he was always criminally underrated.”
Younger Bruins’ Free Agents Like Hall and Reilly
Hall has made it clear he’d like to stay. He started the playoffs on fire, but his lone empty-net goal, one assist and no points in last three games of series against the New York Islanders suggest he’s not a lock to produce at the clip he did when he came over from the Buffalo Sabres.
Hall said before his team was eliminated, “This group makes it enjoyable. For me personally, I think it’s been everything I’ve asked for as far as enjoyment in the playoffs. Everyone should feel good about themselves, and that’s a really good feeling.” It’s not clear he still feels like the Bruins are his only option, but he may be just as keen to re-sign as he was when he arrived. What his deal looks like though it unclear, even if it’s widely believed he wants to sign a long-term extension.
The Bruins will also like re-sign Mike Reilly. He was another strong trade deadline deal for the Bruins, who gave up only a third-round draft choice. He played games multiple where he had more than 22:29 last night and he added depth in an area the Bruins need it. Reilly will be looking for a raise from his $1.5 million salary, but it’s not likely he comes in a whole lot higher than that.