With the NHL offseason only months away, the Boston Bruins will have some difficult decisions to make.
Last week, the Bruins were able to agree to a one-year extension with Jaroslav Halak, solidifying Tuukka Rask’s backup in 2020-2021. The Bruins free agent class will now consist of Matt Grzelcyk, Joakim Nordstrom, Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Torey Krug, and Zdeno Chara.
As the defending Eastern Conference Champions look to extend their championship window, this summer will have a big impact.
The most player expected to draw the most interest is defenseman Torey Krug. The Michigan State product is one of the Bruins’ most productive players and a fan favorite. In 61 games before the season was put on pause, Krug had nine goals and 40 assists. He was on pace for his fourth-consecutive 50 plus point season.
— Bruins Diehards (@BruinsDiehards) March 6, 2020
Additionally, the veteran defenseman has been a weapon on the powerplay and is expected to receive a deal worth $7-8 million annually. He has however made it well known that he would take a discount to stay in Boston. As free agency draws closer Krug’s future will have a large effect on the Bruins offseason.
Unlike Krug, Zdeno Chara’s future is not full of much debate. The veteran defenseman has spent 14 years in Boston and become the face of the franchise. Chara will be 43 entering next season and is the oldest player in the league. He is, however, just as reliable and has been working one-year deals with the Bruins. The decision will ultimately be up to him if he wants to continue his career, but there will be a place for him in Boston if he returns.
My favorite Zdeno Chara memory: The pregame introductions for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.
I don't think I've ever heard the Garden that loud before in my life. Still get goosebumps. pic.twitter.com/yF8kfM6JVj
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 18, 2020
The last Bruins defenseman hitting the market will be Matt Grzelcyk. The former third-round pick was in the midst of a career year before the coronavirus pandemic. In 68 games, the Charlestown native had four goals and 17 assists. While Grzelcyk has been a solid piece over the years, the Bruins are deep at defenseman and Grzelcyk is a candidate to be taken in the expansion draft.
While the Bruins defense could see some changes, they have a key free-agent in winger Jake DeBrusk. The Bruins took DeBrusk 14th overall in the 2015 NHL draft and he has become a staple on the Bruins second line. Through 203 regular-season games, he has 62 goals and 58 goals. DeBrusk is expected to receive a two-three-year deal as he still has areas of his game to improve.
Like DeBrusk, Bjork will be a restricted free agent. The Notre Dame product was in the midst of his most productive season before the season was put on pause. Bjork had a career-high nine goals and ten assists in 58 games. Due to his injury history, the young forward’s extension could come at a discounted price.
Off the Bruins free agents, the least likely to return is Joakim Nordstrom. While Nordstrom has had a solid stint in Boston, there are players such as Trent Frederic in Providence who could fill his role.
With the 2020 season, only months away, the Bruins free agent group outside of Torey Krug is most likely to return on modest deals. The coronavirus pandemic could, however, help out the Bruins as players look for security in a time of uncertainty.