By: Matthew Cahill | Follow Me on Twitter @MWCahill5
The Bruins have had another playoff run cut short, this time by the hands of the New York Islanders. With the offseason coming early once again, Boston’s management has some important decisions to make on which players they want to bring back to the team next year. Cam Neely and Don Sweeney have already said that the core group of the Bruins wants to go in for one last run at winning the Stanley Cup, and that process will start with the re-signing phase.
The most obvious of Boston’s free-agent decisions is Taylor Hall. Hall was able to revive his season after leaving Buffalo, showing great productivity and chemistry alongside David Krejci and Craig Smith. It would be unwise to let a talent like Taylor Hall getaway after finally adding him to the lineup, and both Hall and the Bruins have a mutual interest in him returning to Boston. But an extension may take some time.
With the expansion draft around the corner, signing Hall to an extension prior to the draft would require the Bruins to protect him from Seattle, but if he were to remain unsigned past the expansion draft, the Bruins could protect an additional player while having Hall return as a free agent once the expansion draft has concluded. Ultimately, a fair contract offer to Hall at this point would be $5-6 million per year over five years.
David Krejci is certainly an interesting case when it comes to re-signing with Boston. Now 35-years-old, Krejci will be entering his 16th NHL season in 2021-22. Whether it be with the Bruins or not remains to be seen, but Krejci has already said that he “can’t see himself playing for anybody else.” Krejci faced a lot of criticism for his lack of production early in the season, but once the Bruins acquired Taylor Hall at the trade deadline, that production took off and soared.
As long as it’s a team-friendly deal that’s on the shorter side, Krejci should be back with the Bruins’ core to make one last push at winning another cup. A deal length of one or two years would work, and Krejci has said his next deal will not be about money, which should put both sides involved in negotiations in a position to reach a deal.
This may be one of the more controversial decisions in the eyes of Bruins fans, but Tuukka Rask should absolutely be back on the team next year. Like David Krejci, Rask has said that he can’t see himself playing for anyone else, and with Jeremy Swayman on the rise, it would be wise to have Rask around to help him eventually ease into the starting goaltender role.
However, Rask will be undergoing hip surgery to repair a torn labrum and will be out until February. Because of that, the Bruins will most likely need to sign another goaltender as a free agent this offseason, which means they need to get Rask to take a team-friendly deal if he wants to be back in black and gold next season.
Although the Bruins will most likely need to sign another goalie in Rask’s absence until February, it, unfortunately, should not be Jaroslav Halak. It appears Halak’s time in Boston has run its course after losing the backup goaltender job to Jeremy Swayman for the 2021 postseason. Halak played great in his role for the Bruins for the past three seasons, posting a 49-23-14 record over 90 games played while also winning the Jennings Trophy with Tuukka Rask for the 2019-20 season.
With Boston having two great young goalies in Jeremy Swayman and Daniel Vladar, it would be surprising to see him return to the Bruins for the 2021-22 season. That being said, if the Bruins are looking to find someone this offseason to fill in during Rask’s absence and cannot find anyone to their liking, Halak could be brought back as a last resort on a one-year contract.
Sean Kuraly has had some great moments as a Bruin, including a handful of exciting moments in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, after the season that Kuraly put together and the prospects that the Bruins have in players like Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka, it just doesn’t look like there will be much room for Kuraly moving forward. As of the middle of June, Kuraly and the Bruins had not discussed a contract, and it seems like that will continue to be the case.
Much like Taylor Hall, Mike Reilly and the Bruins have a mutual interest in the defenseman returning to Boston next season, but an extension may come after the expansion draft. This would be for the same reasons as it would be for Hall, letting the Bruins protect other players and signing Reilly after the expansion draft’s conclusion. Reilly played second pairing minutes but would be a solid third-pairing defenseman who plays extremely well when matched up against lower-skilled lines. The contract length and worth could be anywhere, but it’s fair to assume that if the Bruins do give him a contract, it will carry an AAV of about $1.5-2 million.
Miller once again had a season riddled with injuries for the Bruins, as he only played in 28 games. At the start of the season, it would be fair to assume that Miller could potentially be out come the end of the year; however, with the way Boston’s defensemen looked down the stretch, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to bring Miller back a second time on a cheap, one-year deal. This is something that could definitely go either way. I don’t think you gain or lose all that much whether you decide to bring Miller back or let him walk. Bruins management would have to measure the risk of Miller’s proneness to injury, but unless they plan on signing a defenseman in free agency, they could bring Miller back on a similar deal to that of last year.