NBC Sports

Bean: So, what's the plan? B's offseason gets an F so far

NBC Sports

While searching unsuccessfully for an explanation as to why no good teams gave Taylor Hall the puny deal he took with Buffalo, I came across this piece on The Athletic

The gist: Jonathan Toews is annoyed and disappointed with the Blackhawks' offseason. They're clearly rebuilding and will stink next season, which is different from Boston's situation, but how do you think the Bruins' veteran stars feel right about now?

Torey Krug is gone, third-liner Craig Smith was brought in and Kevan Miller was re-upped.

So far, that's it, and every "oh, well they're probably going after [player X]" has been proven wrong.

B's should target one of these FAs after Hall chooses Sabres

Hall signed with the Sabres for one year and $8 million. Erik Gustafsson, a potential replacement for Krug, required only one year and $3 million to sign with the Flyers. Tyler Toffoli inked a four-year deal with the Canadiens. Nate Schmidt was available for a freaking third-round pick in 2022.

The Bruins, as you learned in the playoffs, were not the world-beater their regular season performance suggested. Even if there was no stoppage, or if Tuukka Rask had stayed in the bubble, they would have been easy work for the eventual Cup champion Lightning.

And with the initial wave of offseason moves having been made, they're worse than they were last season.

So for all of us who have wondered whether the Bruins will go for one last big push with this group of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci (who's in the final year of his contract), Rask (same) and captain Zdeno Chara, so far, it's a "no."

 

Chara remains a free agent. Don Sweeney prioritizing the signing Kevan Miller to a contract for more than the minimum is confusing. When the Bruins didn't immediately re-up Chara, it stood to reason that perhaps there was a plan to bring someone else in on the left side, where both Krug and Chara play.

Yet they didn't trade for Oliver Ekman-Larsson (a wise move to avoid) and Gustafsson wasn't brought in despite being available for peanuts. So what are they waiting for with Chara?

While we're asking questions, why are we giving this group the benefit of the doubt? They can still make moves -- at the least, they still need a middle-six left wing, though they could need D help if they don't re-up Chara -- but expecting the right ones might be a tad optimistic.

When news emerged of the B's pulling their offer to Krug, I figured they were aiming high offensively, perhaps with Hall. In hindsight, I'm not sure why I thought that. Historically, Sweeney has been bad in free agency, so passing on Hall up front or Gustafsson on the back end when both were bargains shouldn't be a surprise.

Why Smith was an excellent free agent move for B's

After signing Smith and Miller, the Bruins don't have a lot of cap space. They could create more here and there by giving away players like John Moore and Nick Ritchie. Right now they're about $11 million under the cap, with restricted free agents Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk still unsigned. Either could be used as a chip if the Bruins want to make their big splash via trade.

Losing Grzelcyk would run the risk of basically dumping the team's entire left side, so don't expect that. DeBrusk would be perfect as a third-line left wing alongside David Krejci or Charlie Coyle, but that only happens if the team finds a second-line left wing. Mike Hoffman is the best available, but at 31, perhaps he won't be as willing as Hall to go with a team-friendly contract.

Sweeney said on Sept. 9 that the Bruins were "looking to make some changes." This group has been guilty of just looking and not doing in the past.

Sweeney's work for the offseason obviously isn't done yet, but it's just going to have to go a lot better if the Bruins want to make one more big push with its longstanding core.