The Bruins' season came to a crashing end on Wednesday night in a sudden-death, overtime loss in Game 7 to the Washington Capitals. The conversation among Bruins brass now shifts from in-game strategy to bigger-picture decisions, and they'll have a few of them this summer.
The biggest tasks for any team in any offseason is to identify a need and address that need. It's never as simple as that, of course, but it's what every executive will look to do this summer.
The Bruins are already a deep and talented team, but they do have some players set to become free agents this offseason. Gregory Campbell, Benoit Pouliot and Brian Rolston are all unrestricted free agents. Tuukka Rask is a restricted free agent. Perhaps the Bruins' most important free agent this offseason is Chris Kelly. The UFA has been a pleasant surprise since coming over at the deadline last season, and he certainly fits the mold of what the Bruins are trying to do.
Of course, Peter Chiarelli and Co. will also put feelers out for free agents across the league, and there's a pretty impressive crop this summer. If you're looking for offensive help, there's plenty to choose from. Zach Parise leads the way as the best all-around free agent on the market. He can put the puck in the net, too, scoring 31 goals last season. There are also players like Alexander Semin or David Jones (a player the B's were reportedly interested in at the deadline) as well.
Boston could also go another route in free agency and look to bolster the blue line. The Bruins are a defensive-minded team, but given the strength they already have in that area of the game, perhaps they'd look to add some offense to the blue line. It was clear that the Bruins still struggle on the power play, so bringing in a d-man to quarterback that unit may help. The obvious solution? Ryan Suter. He, of course, may be too rich for the Bruins' blood, but he's certainly the best blue-line option out there. Matt Carle and Jason Garrison are out there in terms of UFAs.
Another option may be to get a little bit younger. The Bruins are far from an old team, but they do have some players getting up there in age. Tim Thomas is 38 years old, and while he still has another year left on his contract, maybe the B's decide to move him. If they do that, the obvious solution would be to sign Rask and give him the job. The Bruins' organizational depth in terms of young players is also encouraging. Promoting a player like Dougie Hamilton to the big club could be an alternative to signing a player like Suter, and it would allow the B's to spend money saved elsewhere.