Big, ‘Bold’ Bruins? What Perfect Offseason For B’s Might Look Like

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This offseason is going to look a lot different for the Boston Bruins.

The B’s, for starters, now actually have a first-round selection in Friday night’s draft after making their first seismic (albeit unsurprising) move of the offseason by trading Linus Ullmark to Ottawa. The Bruins now have the 25th pick in the first round, a potentially strong opportunity to replenish their prospect pool.

When it comes to the here and now, however, the Bruins’ 2024-25 roster is most likely to really start coming into focus Monday when the league year begins with free agency on July 1. A year ago, general manager Don Sweeney entered the offseason with next to no cap space. He did well, too, to augment his roster, as evidenced by another 100-point season that ultimately came to an end in a second-round loss to eventual Stanley Cup champion Florida.

This year, though, Sweeney and the Bruins have a projected $24 million to play with after the Ullmark trade. Some of that money is likely earmarked for Jeremy Swayman, perhaps in the form of a long-term contract extension for the goalie. Even if Swayman gets something in the neighborhood of $8 million annually, that’s a good chunk of change left to play with.

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So, what do exactly do the Bruins do with that money, and what constitutes a successful offseason? Those are two questions’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle tried to tackle on this week’s episode of “The Spread,” NESN’s sports betting podcast. The duo agreed with the consensus opinion that the Bruins probably need to add a center. Elias Lindholm’s name has come up in various reports, but Cole has his eye on another available pivot.

“I was digging through stuff, and I like the idea of Chandler Stephenson, who was out in Vegas, and put together a couple of good seasons the last couple of years,” Cole said. “I think he’s projected to make $5 or $6 million, maybe a little cheaper than Lindholm. Now you’re looking at Coyle, Zacha, Stephenson. Are three second-line centers better than one first-line center and whatever’s behind that?”

AFP Analytics projects a $6.75 million cap hit for Lindholm with Stephenson — who has at least 51 points in each of his last three seasons with Vegas — earning a slightly more modest $5.6 million.

“Maybe you save some money and go get a guy like Tyler Toffoli,” Cole added, noting the uncertainty around Jake DeBrusk, the highest-profile free agent the Bruins have set to hit the market this summer.

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“They do have the benefit of a decent amount of cap space … but still, it goes quick, especially when you have to pay the goaltender, and that’s priority No. 1 at this point,” Doyle countered.

Whatever the Bruins do this offseason, the guys think the word of the summer for Sweeney could and should be “bold.” After seeing how the Panthers built their Cup-winning roster, this could be a pivotal offseason when it comes to building — or adding to — the next great Bruins core.

“I think the biggest thing for the Bruins is they’re kind of trying to find a new identity, right?” Doyle said. “I think in order for them to take the next step, there needs to be a shift in that regard. I feel like Florida definitely has an identity. They remind me a little bit of the Bruins from a few years ago. They can beat you in so many different ways.”

Check out the entire episode below.

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