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Bruins off-season recap

Nick+Foligno+in+November+2014.
Lisa Gansky via Wikimedia Commons
Nick Foligno in November 2014.

The Boston Bruins easily had their most interesting and eventful offseason in their recent history. The Bruins had some clear needs on the defensive end, but their needs shifted dramatically when longtime Bruins center, David Krejci, announced he was going to play in his home country of the Czech Republic. This was obviously a huge blow to the B’s as they were gearing up for another potential Stanley Cup run. So, here is how the Bruins went about their offseason after knowing they were going to have to fill a gaping hole at second line center.

Defense

First off, let’s talk about what the Bruins did to improve their defensive core. For a team whose most glaring need seemed to be on the defensive end, Don Sweeney didn’t seem like he was too eager to assess the defensive side of things. Sweeney only made one defensive signing this offseason in Winnipeg’s Derek Forbort.

Last season, Forbort was a solid top four defenseman for the Jets and will take on a top four role here in Boston. He fills the need of a big left-shot defenseman that the Bruins so desperately needed the past few seasons, but he lacks in the scoring department, only scoring 12 points in 56 games. At $3 million for three years, if Forbort can be a shut down guy who can play 20 minutes a night, then this could be a great deal for the Bruins. However, it seems like the Bruins came up short in the defensive free agent market.

Forwards

It is safe to say the Bruins have had their issues in the past with secondary scoring, but no one expected them to load up on middle six forwards in free agency, and that is exactly what Sweeney did. It seems like Boston is trying to cushion the loss of Krejci with some great depth pieces like Nick Foligno and Erik Haula. Both Haula and Foligno are past their prime, but were at one point in their careers considered top six forwards. Both Haula and Foligno have the potential to turn one of the worst third lines in the NHL into maybe one of the best.

The Bruins also re-signed former Hart Trophy-winner Taylor Hall to a four year $6 million contract. When on his game, Hall has the skill to be one of the best left wingers in the NHL. However, the loss of Krejci could hinder his offensive upside. Overall, I believe this can be a good deal for Boston as long as he can keep up his production.

Goaltending

Probably the most surprising position that was assessed in free agency was the goaltending position. With Tuukka Rask likely on the shelf until January or February, the Bruins appeared to be geared to play the season with Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar at the helm. However, that was changed when Boston signed Linus Ullmark who played for the Buffalo Sabres and, in turn, traded Vladar to Calgary.

Miraculously, Ullmark had a winning record while playing for the worst team in the NHL a season ago. If Ullmark can somehow orchestrate wins while playing in front of an awful team, maybe he can be a top tier goaltender in front of a good team like the Bruins. Time will only tell, but if he does perform well, Ullmark could be one of the best signings in free agency.

Ultimately, the Bruins had a very eventful offseason. However, if their incoming free agents don’t perform, they could go from a Stanley Cup contender to a fringe playoff team.

About the Contributor
Jonathan Hopkins, Sports Editor