2017 Bruins off-season primer: Important decisions lie ahead
With the Penguins a little over 24 hours removed from being the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998, there’s only one thing on the minds of hockey fans outside the City of Pittsburgh as they continue to celebrate.
Let the off-season officially begin.
An off-season that will include the Vegas Golden Knights as they prepare for their inaugural season in the National Hockey League. Their first order of business? Taking a player from each of the 30 other teams.
The summer of 2017 is shaping up to have some interesting storylines for all 31 squads, including the Boston Bruins. It’s a pretty important one for Don Sweeney.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll have a better idea on how the Bruins will shape out in 2017-18. From re-signing David Pastrnak to submitting his list of protected players for the Expansion Draft and pondering over whether to keep their first round pick (18th overall), these next few weeks are shaping up to be a busy one for Sweeney and the rest of the front office on Causeway Street.
Those aforementioned decisions aren’t the only events on the docket. From the unveiling of their new Adidas uniforms to Patrice Bergeron looking to tie Bob Gainey in Selkie Award history to decisions on pending free agents and a glimpse at the Bruins pipeline, there will be plenty of discussions to be had among Bostonians heading into mid-July.
Here’s an outlook of important events for Sweeney and company for the rest of June and into July.
Protected player deadline for Expansion Draft – June 17
The first Expansion Draft deadline has come and gone. On Monday, teams could ask players to waive their no-movement clause if they wish not to protect said players for the draft. The Bruins have five players on NMC’s for 2017-18: Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and David Backes. None were asked to waive their NMC as reported by Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe.
With five players officially protected – four forwards and one defenseman – the Bruins have up to six players left to protect. It’s all but certain that they’ll go with the 7-3-1 format. Tuukka Rask, David Pastrnak, Torey Krug are locks to be protected. Riley Nash is likely to be protected as well. That leaves one forward and one defensive spot for Sweeney.
Our own Bob Snow weighed some pros and cons on the players that are on the fringe. Click here for his outlook.
Once teams submit their list of protected players – to be made public on June 18 – Vegas can negotiate with UFAs and unprotected RFAs from the 18th-21st.
New Adidas jersey unveiling – June 20
With the NHL changing their apparel sponsor to Adidas, a handful teams will have either a fresh new look or some modifications to their current sweaters. The Bruins fall in that category.
A teaser was tweeted on the official Bruins account on Monday.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) June 12, 2017
From a brief glimpse, the logo seems to be unchanged. If anything, the Bruins will fall in the minor addition category. After all, why fix something that really isn’t broken?
Full reveal of Vegas Golden Knights roster and NHL Awards – June 21
In an attempt for glitz and glamor, the NHL’s production of their year-end awards show often times don’t draw the best reviews from critics. Whether it’s the B-list celebrities or musical performances, the critiques are lurking once the show celebrating the leagues best comes to a conclusion.
Well, there’s a little twist in this year’s version to take place at the T-Mobile Arena – the home of the Golden Knights – one week from Wednesday. Vegas’ full roster is set to be revealed to the public for the first time. How they’ll announce the team is anyone’s guess, but barring any Cuba Gooding Jr. moments, the Golden Knights’ roster reveal is slated to be the highlight of the night.
Oh, and not to forget, Bergeron will be looking to tie Gainey for most Selkie Awards. The three-time winner is joined by Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu as fellow finalists.
NHL Draft (Chicago) – June 23-24
From Sin City to the Second City, the league calendar shifts its focus to future NHLers in a matter of two days. The big question surrounding the Bruins is whether or not they’ll trade the 18th pick in hopes of landing one of their needs – a top-four left shot defenseman or a left winger to play alongside David Krejci.
Shall they keep the selection, Sweeney will likely take one of the best available players on the board. Whether or not they’ll pan out is anyone’s guess.
Free Agency – July 1
Unlike previous years where Sweeney spent big money on Matt Beleskey and David Backes – for less than advertised – the Bruins GM may not be as busy when the UFAs hit the market on Canada Day. Between Pastrnak’s impending contract, a solid prospect system and a not so stellar free agent class, Sweeney may only opt for a minor addition or two similar to signing Riley Nash and Dominic Moore (who wasn’t added until August). Even then, he may opt to keep the likes of Moore and Drew Stafford – both UFAs – instead.
Bruins Development Camp – July 6-9
For the first time since moving into Warrior Ice Arena last fall, the Bruins will welcome their prospects – and a few additional invites – to the Brighton practice digs for four days. The recently signed Anders Bjork is among one of the players that should be in attendance. A complete roster of this year’s participants will be revealed in the days and weeks ahead.