Bruins

Bergeron still the straw that stirs the B's, but is this his swan song?

Bruins

The Boston Bruins roster has gone through a lot of changes over the last couple years, including the departures of some important veteran players such as Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask (for now).

One constant for nearly two decades in Boston has been Patrice Bergeron, and in 2021 he's still an absolute force in all three zones on a nightly basis. 

Bergeron is in his 18th season, but you wouldn't know it by watching him play. He's tallied 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 21 games. He's on pace to score 31 goals -- a milestone he's reached in four of the last six seasons.

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The analytics still love Bergeron as well.

The B's account for a staggering 66.28 percent of all 5-on-5 shot attempts whenever Bergeron is on the ice. That's the highest of all 272 forwards with 225-plus minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, per Natural Stat Trick. Bergeron also leads the league in 5-on-5 shots for percentage (66.99) and scoring chances for percentage (65.42) at 5-on-5. The B's captain also leads the league in faceoff win percentage (63.4).

Faceoff King

Faceoff win %
63.4 (1st)

In other words, the Bruins consistently dominate the opposition in terms of puck possession, scoring chances and scoring goals when Bergeron on the ice. This is nothing new for Bruins fans -- they've seen this for more than a decade -- but it's still pretty impressive considering Bergeron is approaching Year 20 and he's as dominant as ever.

 

That said, one storyline that's not getting a ton of attention is Bergeron's future. 

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He's in the final year of his contract. He's 36 years old. He's played in 1,324 games, including the playoffs. It's hard to see him ever playing on a different team, but will he even play next year? Bergeron was asked about his future before the season, and he didn't give any indication which way he might be leaning.

“That’s something that a lot of people have asked me this summer," Bergeron told reporters in September. "I think for me, the way that I approach this year is I want to concentrate on this year. I have a year left on my contract. I think that it would be useless for me to think about the future."

What's the Bruins' plan to replace Bergeron if he leaves at any point in the near future? Who's the in-house candidate to step in and fill a top-six role? Jack Studnicka? He's not there yet and might never be. The Bruins also don't have any elite-level center prospects in the system. 

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Charlie Coyle has done a pretty decent job as the No. 2 center following Krejci's offseason departure. Finding someone to step in for Bergeron, who should be in the Hall of Fame someday, will be far more challenging than replacing Krejci. Maybe that player would be acquired via trade, perhaps in free agency. But the Bruins should have some kind of plan in place soon just so they're prepared. 

If Bergeron keeps playing at this elite level, he should try to stick around for a few more years. Not only would it help the Bruins win games, it would give the franchise more time to figure out how to replace him whenever that moment does come.