Where do the Boston Bruins go from here?
The Boston Bruins season ended in bitter disappointment in game 5 with a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
I thought this was Boston's best team in the Brad Marchand era, but they didn't make the adjustments they needed to and Tuukka Rask wasn't that great in the postseason.
Rask's record in the postseason was 5-7 with a .903 save percentage and a 2.88 GAA. He is under contract for another few seasons and Rask is a free agent after the 2020-2021 season. Rask is 31 years old and will he be traded within the next couple of seasons?
It is going to depend on a couple of factors.
1. Will he continue to not step up when it matters the most?
2. Is 25-year old Zane McIntyre ready to be the Bruins backup and eventually take over the starter's crease?
Backup goalie Anton Khudobin is 32 years old and is an unrestricted free agent. He had a very good season with a 16-6-7 record with a .913 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA, along with one shutout. I don't think Boston will get that out of him again.
In McIntyre's NHL career, he has a 0-4-1 record with a .858 save percentage and a 3.97 GAA. In 47 AHL games with the Providence Bruins, he had a 26-15-2 record with a .914 save percentage and a 2.52 GAA, along with seven shutouts.
Will Jordan Binnington compete for the backup job in Boston next season as well? Binnington was named to the All-Star Game at the AHL level during the 2017-2018 season.
He started in 28 games with Providence (AHL) and his record was 17-9 with a .926 save percentage and a 2.05 GAA, along with one shutout. Binnington is 24 years old.
Rick Nash, Riley Nash, Sean Kuraly, Tim Schaller, Tommy Wingels, Brian Gionta, and Nick Holden are also free agents. I think they will keep Rick Nash, Riley Nash, and Sean Kuraly. I think they will let Schaller, Wingels, and Gionta walk. I'm curious whether or not they will keep Nick Holden.
Boston has a deep defensive core, to begin with, and they have Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo. Holden struggled to get in the lineup and he played in game 5 when Krug suffered a left ankle injury.
Young players like Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, and Danton Heinen made an impact with the Bruins this season and will for a while. Bjork only played in 30 games and his season was cut short due to shoulder surgery.
Ryan Donato is going to be a stud for the Bruins for years to come. In 12 games, he scored five goals and recorded four assists. He played in three playoff games and Donato didn't score a goal or recorded an assist.
Who are the other young players that could compete for a roster spot next season? Centerman Austin Czarnik, defenseman Jakub Zobril, Centerman Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and defenseman Jeremy Lauzon.
The Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak line was one of the best in the NHL this past season as they combined for 228 points. Speaking of Marchand, the NHL has had enough of Marchand's on-ice antics with licking opponents. Further disciplinary action will happen if he doesn't stop.
Boston blew a golden opportunity to be the one seed the last game of the season when they lost to the Florida Panthers. Had they won, Boston would've played the New Jersey Devils in the first round. The Tampa Bay Lightning would've played the Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston would have had home ice advantage, but they didn't and Boston could play the what if game, but the Bruins season is now over because of it.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy has this team playing an up-tempo game and they are very balanced. Boston will be a serious threat in the eastern conference for the next few years and maybe longer than that. The Bruins should be back in the playoffs for the 2018-2019 season and they should be one of the favorites to win it all next season.