The NHL is just 31 days away from the beginning of the 2017/18 season. Over the next 31 days we’ll dive into the 31 NHL teams in alphabetical order, take a look at their previous standings and upcoming season predictions, as well as their key additions and subtractions. Yesterday we looked at the Arizona Coyotes. Today we take the first trip out east, seeing what can be expected from the Boston Bruins.
2016/17 record: 44-31-7
Key additions: Urho Vaakanainen
Key losses: Colin Miller
2017/18 prediction: Just out of the playoffs
Yes, the above information is not a typo. The Boston Bruins did virtually nothing this offseason. The key loss to their team was the Vegas Golden Knights selection in the expansion draft, while the key addition to their roster was a 1st round draft pick who will not make the roster in 2017-18.
The Bruins have been consistent the last three seasons, finishing with 96, 93 and 95 points. The problem with that is that two of those three seasons, Boston missed the playoffs. Don’t mess with success is a great mentality to have, but the Bruins’ method of not messing with mediocrity is an unfortunate result of an old, expensive roster. The collection of David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Backes, Matt Beleskey, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller and Tuukka Rask combine for a cap hit of $44.8 million (59.7% of the salary cap). This is a core who have all already played their best seasons in the NHL.
If the Bruins do not add anyone significant, how will they get better? The switch from Claude Julien to Bruce Cassidy was one step. Cassidy ended the season strong, but many coaches have a successful third of a season as a replacement coach. The long term success behind the bench for the Bruins will be key to their future.
As much as the Bruins have a lot of veteran players locked up long term, their young talent will be crucial to their future. David Pastrnak is still not signed, with the Bruins deciding that playing tough with their 21 year old, 34 goal, 70 point scorer is a good strategy moving forward. Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo join Pastrnak as young players to get excited about. McAvoy and Carlo will continue to get better in this next season as they become the future of the Bruins’ blueline.
Unfortunately, for Boston fans the improved contributions of this young talent won’t be enough. A few young players providing a better performance cannot make up for the slew of older players likely to decline. This year the Bruins will fall just short of the playoffs for the third time in four years, leading likely to more of the same. The Bruins will change nothing and hope for a different result until forced by failure into a full rebuild.