June 25, 2024

Dear Santa: Boston Bruins’ 2023-24 Wish List

It is the time of year when everyone is making a list of what they would like around the Holidays. When it comes to the Boston Bruins and general manager (GM) Don Sweeney, the list can be pretty long. This Holiday season, despite being in first place in the Atlantic Division, the Black and Gold is far from a perfect team and could use gifts this season.

Here's how Don Sweeney built the Bruins into Stanley Cup contenders - The  Boston Globe

As we get closer to Christmas, what should be on the Bruins’ wish list for Santa? Let’s take a look at what they would like this Holiday season.

Bruins Get a Top-Six Center

It’s nearing the Holidays and the Bruins still don’t have a top-six center replacement for Patrice Bergeron. Pavel Zacha, Charlie Coyle, and Matthew Poitras have played well this season up there, but there is no doubt that a top-six center needs to be added.

Who that ends up being remains to be seen, if it happens at all. Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets was a name that was out there, but he signed an extension and is staying there. Elias Lindholm of the Calgary Flames is a player that could be dealt, but the asking price is going to be high. If Sweeney is going to swing a deal for him, parting ways with an NHL player, maybe Jake DeBrusk, a top prospect, Fabian Lysell, or another combination or player. Boston is not blessed with draft capital to get a deal done, which would make trading players the likely way they would have to go.

The current Bruins center depth is good enough to get through the regular season, but is it good enough to make a run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Sweeney could let the season play out and try and land someone in free agency, but that’s taking a huge risk that a player like Lindholm makes it there. That’s a tough ask.

Patrice Bergeron injury: Bruins forward leaves with upper-body injury,  status for Thursday uncertain - masslive.com

Have Good Health

Recently the Bruins have been hit with injuries. In reality, it’s the NHL and they are going to happen. Derek Forbort is on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR), while Charlie McAvoy and Pavel Zacha left games with injuries. The problem for Boston this season is depth is an issue.

The Bruins defensively when someone goes down are able to mix and match with some veterans and their top prospect in Mason Lohrei, but when it comes to forward depth, they just do not have as much as they would like. They already have Poitras and Beecher making an impact in the NHL, but when looking down at what the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League have, it’s not great. Jakub Lauko and Oskar Steen have done a nice job on the fourth line and in a pinch up the middle, Jim Montgomery has Morgan Geekie and Trent Fredric to slide into the middle but creates a need on the wing.

Health is big for all teams, but when it comes to the Bruins, it’s very important and something they need to avoid going deep into.

A Jeremy Swayman Contract Extension

Over the summer, goalie Jeremy Swayman and the Bruins couldn’t come together on a contract and it was settled with an arbitration hearing. Those generally have not happened under Sweeney, but it got to that point and a one-year, $3.475 million deal.

Looking toward the future, Swayman is eligible to sign a long-term extension after Jan. 1, and Sportnet Elliotte Friedman in November on the Jeff Marke Show said that he wouldn’t be surprised if something got done. In the big picture, getting Swayman locked up beyond this season should be at the top of his to-do list. There is no doubt he’s the future No. 1 in Boston.

Linus Ullmark is in the third year of a four-year, $20 million deal and is coming off of a Vezina Trophy 2022-23 season, but Swayman is the future in Boston. Getting him locked up long-term would be a huge present for the Bruins.

A Berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Currently, the Bruins are on top in the Atlantic Division and are on pace for a postseason berth. Where they finish remains to be seen, but somewhere in the top eight in the Eastern Conference would be nice. Why? To try and erase the memory of last spring.

After winning the Presidents’ Trophy, they jumped out a 3-1 series lead on the Florida Panthers in the first round, but after a record-setting 2022-23 season for wins (65) and points (135). After a historic regular season, they had a historic postseason elimination after losing the final three games to Florida, two on home ice in overtime, for a stunning elimination.

Getting back to the playoffs would give them an opportunity to exercise their postseason demons, granted with a much different roster. Their 2024 first-round draft pick is Top-10 protected otherwise it goes to the Detroit Red Wings for the trade at the deadline that landed them Tyler Bertuzzi, so it should be full steam for the playoff berth in the spring.

Other wishes could be on the Bruins list, but these four are pretty big ones. A top-six center, good health, a contract extension for Jeremy Swayman, and a playoff berth is a good place to start for Sweeney, Montgomery, and Boston.

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