(Matt Stone) (Maddie Meyer - Getty Images) (Yahoo Sports) (One News Page)
The way the Bruins season came to a screeching halt following a 3-2 defeat in overtime of Game 6 against the Ottawa Senators stings. The Boston Bruins, in no way, shape, or form, should've still been playing for their playoff hopes at that point. They were extremely decimated by injuries, particularly at the blue line with Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, and Adam McQuaid combining to appear in only 2 games (both by McQuaid). On top of that, Colin Miller played in just 3 games this series, and David Krejci also only played in 3 games.
But there they were, nonetheless. And that alone is something to be proud of if you're a Bruins fan. This team was dead in the water when they fired Claude Julien back in early February, and Bruce Cassidy took over and led them to an 18-8-1 record and the third seed in the Atlantic Division. Now while the series didn't end the way us fans wanted, we should still be proud of the boys in the Black & Gold.
But, now it's officially the Bruins offseason, so for that, it's time to look forward. Here is my wishlist for the Boston Bruins offseason.
Who to re-sign?
Stafford was the steal of the trade deadline, and I will continue to market that until the season comes to a close. Considering the Bruins were able to snag him for a conditional 6th round pick, it's safe to say they got the better end of that deal with Winnipeg. In 18 regular season games with the B's, Stafford put up 4 goals (matching his 40 game total with the Jets) and 4 assists, and he even fit right in on the power play. Not only that, but he was very flexible in the sense that he was able to mesh well with whoever Cassidy put him out there with. Stafford is also a former 30 goal scorer, and it would be nice to get him on at least a one year deal for that reason.
My buddy and I joked at the beginning of the season that Dominic Moore is a monster, and it's apparent because a third of the league had to have him. But Moore proved just why he's a hot commodity whenever he's on the market, because he fit right in on the fourth line for the Bruins. He, in all intents and purposes, was supposed to be this year's Chris Kelly. Moore is an iron man, and is good on faceoffs, as well as on the PK. But Moore also netted 11 goals and contributed 14 assists this year as a fourth liner. He was fantastic, and I'd love to see him back in 2017-18.
Honorable Mentions: Tommy Cross, Ty Randell
Who to let go?
I, like many others, was ecstatic when the Bruins were able to snag Matt Beleskey 2 offseasons ago. But after this season, I think it's time the two parties went their separate ways. Now, Beleskey did have a knee injury in the middle of the season, which limited him to just 49 games, but he was essentially a waste of space when he was out there. He had as many points in 49 games as Drew Stafford did in 18, Stafford scored more goals, and Stafford contributed more in less time than Beleskey. So if Sweeney has to choose between Stafford and Beleskey, Beleskey has to go.
Must I go on? The Bruins should've just bit the bullet and finished paying the final two seasons of Marc Savard's contract, and hung on to Reilly Smith. Because Jimmy Hayes has been a failure for this team. Hayes played 58 games this year and only gave 5 points (2 G and 3 A) in that time. He took a HUGE step back from his decent first campaign in Boston. But he has to go. He's stealing a roster spot from a young guy who's more deserving (cough cough, Peter Cehlarik cough cough).
Honorable Mentions: David Krejci, Adam McQuaid
Who to sign?
Now, it won't be easy. But this is the one signing the Bruins HAVE to go all out for. If there is one thing we saw time and time again this series, it's that the Bruins defense still needs a lot of work. Had Tuukka Rask not been at the top of his game, the Bruins would've probably been swept. It was THAT bad. Adding Shattenkirk helps alleviate some of the pressure on the Bruins net-minder. He's an excellent two-way defenseman who has experience playing hockey in Boston and at the Garden from his days at Boston University. There's mutual interest from Shatty's camp, now it's up to Don Sweeney to go get him.
Another issue the Bruins had was capitalizing on their scoring chances. Everyone from Brad Marchand to Riley Nash had a chance to put a goal on the board this series, but was stoned by Craig Anderson. Not to slight Anderson, but the Bruins could've dominated had they capitalized on their scoring chances. Which is where I bring up Justin Williams. Williams is a proven goal scorer, as he's netted 20+ 6 times in his career. Not only that, but it's almost impossible to keep him off the ice. He has missed just 3 games in the past 4 seasons. He would be an excellent addition to this hockey team, providing offensive firepower, as well as world champion pedigree.
Honorable Mentions: Brian Boyle, Johnny Oduya
Who to trade for?
I only have one trade target, and it's not a necessity, but Taylor Hall would be mine. There were rumors that the Bruins wanted Taylor Hall prior to him being dealt to the Devils last offseason. But they were unwilling to pull the trigger because they didn't want to part ways with Tuukka Rask. And, based off this season, it seems like the Bruins were smart in holding on to Rask. Now Hall wasn't bad, but he did take a step back this season. His goal output dropped from 26 to 20, and his point total dropped from 65 to 53. So the Bruins could bring him in for a lot cheaper than Rask now. They have a lot of blue line depth down in Providence, and the Devils don't have much talent back there.
The Bruins would be foolish to take interviews from anyone. Bruce Cassidy IS the guy that should be at the helm of this team next season. He took a Bruins team that was dead and led them to an 18-8-1 record, brought them to third in the Atlantic Division, and 6 games with practically an AHL lineup against the Ottawa Senators. Pretty good, to say the least. This team played for Cassidy, whereas they gave up on Claude Julien. The Bruins would be idiotic to not take Cassidy back.