The Boston Bruins are enjoying some time off between the first and second rounds of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which is allowing players to get some much-needed rest after a physical Round 1 series versus the Washington Capitals that featured three overtime games.
The long layoff between series, combined with the fact that we still don't know Boston's second-round opponent, has turned some of the focus on the Bruins to what lies ahead in the offseason.
Most notably, the futures of some of the team's key players. And perhaps no player's future with the Bruins is more intriguing than that of starting goalie Tuukka Rask.
In a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday morning, B's president Cam Neely was asked about Rask's future with the team beyond this season.
"Both Tuukka and our camp, we said we'd table everything until after the season and see how things go," Neely explained. "Get a better sense after the season is over for how Tuukka is feeling both mentally physically, and we'll go from there."
The Bruins have several important players able to hit unrestricted free agency after the season. The list is headlined by Taylor Hall, Krejci and Rask. Hall has been adamant about wanting to return to Boston.
Does Neely think Krejci and Rask also want to be back?
"I haven't talked to them myself, personally, about that," Neely said. "I kind of let the season go along and just let them focus on playing this year. My guess is that they would. I think they both would probably like to finish their careers as a Boston Bruin, so let's see what happens this offseason."
One player spending his entire career with one team is becoming increasingly rare in pro sports these days. That said, the Bruins have several players who've spent their entire lengthy NHL careers in Boston, with Rask and Krejci among that group.
"There's something to be said about playing for one organization and right now, that's what it's looking like for both Tuukka and David," Neely said.
The ideal scenario for the Bruins would be bringing back both Krejci and Rask on short-term contracts. Krejci's return would buy the B's more time to find a top-six center to replace him, whether that's Jack Studnicka taking a step forward in his development or someone else.
Rask coming back would allow the Bruins to ease Jeremy Swayman into the No. 1 goalie role he's likely to occupy for the long-term.
These are important decisions for the Bruins, but the focus must remain on what's in front of them, and that's pursuing the Stanley Cup. With so many players able to hit the free-agent market soon, this run could be Boston's last with its current veteran core.