With the 2020-21 NHL season around the corner, Boston Bruins fans can expect a bleak year. The Bruins have three obstacles to overcome. The first is to settle Zdeno Chara‘s contract. Second, they must reach an agreement or deal with Jake DeBrusk. And lastly, they’ll need to replace the departed Torey Krug. These are certainly not easy tasks and it’s why Bruins fans can expect a bleak 2020-21 season.
Come To Terms With Zdeno Chara
The first order of business is to come to terms with Zdeno Chara. Chara has spent 14 years in a Bruins uniform. Clearly, he is the leader in the locker room and on the ice. For minimal dollars, the organization needs to sign the team’s captain. If he leaves, that’s two quality defensemen the club needs to replace.
One issue is, at 44, Chara cannot log the minutes he once did. When he does play, his shifts are questionable. Many fans feel he is not the effective force he once was.
In 2019-20 Chara, played in 68 games, scoring five goals and nine assists. Two of those goals were game-winners. With a lot of defensemen on the way up, it may be best if he retires.
Need To Consider Expansion
This June, the NHL will introduce its newest expansion team, the Seattle Kraken. Each team must surrender a player under contract. My guess is Zdeno Chara will be signed and picked by Seattle.
Chara would be the perfect candidate for the Bruins to leave unprotected. Losing a player like Brandon Carlo or John Moore would create more of a void. The other issue is the club has minimal cap space to work with.
In any event, the organization has not strengthened itself either offensively or defensively. Both of these areas cost the Bruins in the postseason the past two years.
Too Many Holes To Fill
The 2020-21 Boston Bruins have too many holes to fill. The loss of defenseman Torey Krug certainly hurt, and with the present salary cap, they cannot do much more. The Bruins need to rebuild their defense. Youngsters Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jeremy Lauzon will have to step up.
Two players still available are defensemen Ron Hainsey and Sami Vatanen. Vatanen is only 29 and coming off an injury-riddled season. With a cap hit of $4 million, he would be the perfect fit. He’s a right-handed shooting defenseman that still has plenty of good hockey left in him.
If the young players can’t step up, Bruins fans will be in for a long season. Torey Krug will be missed on the power play. If Zdeno Chara exits, they will miss a valuable piece of the organization. If Chara stays, he would be an asset for the younger players, but his age and effectiveness are catching up with him.
Expecting the Bruins to sign a Mike Hoffman or Mikael Granlund is unrealistic. Boston is cash strapped. One remote possibility could be signing Anthony Duclair.
Duclair would add speed and scoring to the Bruins’ top six. His work ethic would be a perfect fit in Boston. He is 5’11” and 198 lbs, and in 2019-20, he scored 23 goals and 17 assists in 66 games.
With the COVID-19 pandemic hurting the market, the Bruins may have to work with what they have. Other than the Craig Smith signing, the only other notable acquisitions were center Greg McKegg, defenseman Kevan Miller, and forward Karson Kuhlman.
If the Bruins hope to reach the playoffs then they need to protect Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. The Bruins had the third-best power play in the NHL last season. Losing Torey Krug will not help. Expect the Bruins to take a couple of steps back this season.
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