Alternate captain Mark Recchi rode off into the sunset of retirement, while Michael Ryder and Tomas Kaberle chose to sign elsewhere in the offseason. Aside from these three players, Boston's roster remains unchanged and appears poised to challenge for more Cup runs in the future.
In order to keep the winning nucleus in place, general manager Peter Chiarelli might want to sign his top players to some long-term deals. Last season captain Zdeno Chara signed a seven-year extension and Patrice Bergeron signed a three-year extension, both deals were completed just hours before the B's began their 2010-11 campaign. In recent years both goaltenders Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask signed new deals, as have defensemen Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg and forward Milan Lucic.
So who are the top candidates to sign long term deals to remain with the Black and Gold? Center David Krejci proved his value to the B's last season, leading the NHL playoffs in goals scored and points by posting 12-11-23 numbers in 25 postseason games. The 25-year-old still seems to have potential room to grow and become a truly elite playmaker in the league. He is entering the final year of his current deal with the team.
The offseason addition of Nathan Horton from Florida last June immediately paid dividends for the Bruins. Paired with Krejci and Lucic on the top line, the 26-year-old Horton scored 26 goals and 27 assists in the regular season and made his first appearance in the playoffs count, netting eight goals, including three game-winners, and nine assists in 21 games. Horton has two years remaining on his current contract.
One of the most underrated moves Chiarelli made at the trade deadline in February was adding forward Rich Peverley from Atlanta in exchange for Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart. While Peverley scored only seven points in 23 regular season games in Boston, his versatility proved valuable in the playoffs as head coach Claude Julien moved the 29-year-old between the top three lines to offset injuries to Bergeron and Horton. Peverley responded by scoring 12 points in the playoffs, including scoring two goals in a pivotal Game 4 of the Cup Final. Peverley will be a free agent after this season.
Finding strong defensemen in the NHL is always a challenge, and with Chara, Seidenberg and Ference the Bruins have three solid blue liners to depend on. The B's want to make sure they also lock up their younger defensemen, as they did when they signed Adam McQuaid to a three-year extention in July. Another defensive candidate could be Johnny Boychuk. The 27-year-old secured the Eddie Shore Award in 2009 as the AHL's best defenseman and played his first full season in the NHL last season. Though he posted modest numbers, he brings toughness and potential to the position. He has one year remaining on his current contract.
Though only in his second season, many expect Tyler Seguin to have a breakout sophomore campaign. As a rookie last season Seguin scored 11 goals and added 11 assists in 74 games, but stepped up big in the Eastern Conference Final against the Lightning by scoring three goals and dishing four assists. Though still signed to his rookie contract, Seguin seems a sure bet to get a long-term contract with the team in the future.