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Boston Bruins Facing Tough Summer Choices

Don Sweeney

The Boston Bruins have found themselves in hot water entering their summer hiatus. The Black and Gold found themselves on the outside looking in after being taken out of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Florida Panthers in the first round.

While the loss is certainly bitter, the B's have more bitter pills to swallow during the offseason. The Bruins front office had leveraged heavily on the team taking the Cup this year and had rolled the dice hoping their choices would bring the Cup back to Boston.

Back in late February, the Black and Gold showed they were willing to roll the dice. The Bruins acquired veteran defenseman Dmitry Orlov and (what many Bruins fans insisted was missing) winger Garnet Hathaway (6'3" 208 lbs) in a three-way trade with the Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild. In return, the Bruins sent forward Craig Smith, a 2023 first-round draft pick, a 2025 second-round draft pick, and a 2024 third-round draft pick to the Capitals for Hathaway and Orlov.

The Bruins kept wheeling and dealing up to the trade deadline. The Bruins were able to get winger Tyler Bertuzzi from the Detroit Red Wings. The B's gave up a 2024 first-round pick and a 2025 fourth-round pick.

The Bruins looked primed for a deep run. The President's Trophy-winning team had a dominating season and seemed destined to win the Cup. With their unexpected departure from the playoffs, the B's have to face the music. Hathaway and Orlov were in the final seasons of their respective contracts and will become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Bertuzzi is also slated to be a potential one-and-done in Boston.

Sweeney knows that keeping those players won't be easy.

"I couldn't just categorically sign those players today," said Sweeney at the team's end-of-the-year press event of the year. "Our cap situation, we leveraged a little bit. Everybody knows our overage at [$4.5 million due to Bergeron and Krejci's bonuses]. So, we have some constraints, as do several other teams around the league. Our goal was to put the absolute best roster we could put together and try and take a real legitimate run and we failed, no question. So, we have to pay that forward a little bit."

If Sweeney is unable to sign any of them, this will raise the number of first-round draft picks given up for summer rentals to five in the Sweeney era.

While the loss of the summer rentals isn't painful, the Bruins are facing the loss of several long-time players and a tight salary cap. Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, veteran center David Krejci, and goalie Jeremy Swayman will also be entering free agency.

Boston has only re-signed defenseman Hampus Lindholm.

With the current state of affairs over on Causeway Street, the Black and Gold have several difficult choices ahead when it comes to the roster (Bergeron and Krejci's possible retirement notwithstanding). At the moment, it's looking more and more like a very different Bruins team will be lacing up the skates next September in Boston.

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May 15, 2023
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