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  • Patrice Bergeron’s reported return likely puts Bruins rebuild on hold

    Tim Rosenthal June 25, 2022

    We’re a couple of weeks away from the 2022 NHL Draft. The Boston Bruins still don’t haven’t named their next head coach. Nor have they announced their contract extension for Don Sweeney, the embattled Boston GM who recently decided to fire popular bench boss Bruce Cassidy.

    The Cassidy news, the coaching search for his replacement and a quartet of Bruins undergoing off-season surgeries — Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk and Mike Reilly — put Boston in apparent rebuilding mode. Yet, they put those plans on hold following a reported significant development.

    As first reported by Worcester Telegram and Gazette’s Joe McDonald, Patrice Bergeron will return on a one-year deal. The Bergeron and Sweeney camps will reportedly meet next week.

    Bergeron’s return likely keeps Boston’s contending aspirations intact. But the current roster structure needs significant upgrades up front, primarily a second-line center, for any hopes of staying in the NHL’s upper echelon. With a hare over $2.3 million of projected salary cap space heading into the 2022-23 season, Sweeney will need to get creative in order to improve his squad.

    The Bruins won’t have a first-round pick for the third time in five years, barring a pre-Draft trade. Sweeney added the 2022 first-rounder in the Hampus Lindholm trade to Anaheim. Even with injury developments late in the 2021-22 campaign, the former Duck became one-half of a dynamic new top defensive pairing with McAvoy during their brief time together.

    There’s no doubt that the Bruins will have to go down a different path when Bergeron calls it a career. Marchand might embark on a similar situation once his contract expires at the end of the 2024-25 campaign. By then, Sweeney, Cam Neely, and whoever they hire to replace Cassidy could finally enter the rebuilding era.

    If done right, the rebuild won’t have to last long. A pivotal hire awaits with Jay Leach and David Quinn as the two rumored leading coaching candidates. A potential contract extension for David Pastrnak would provide added stability.

    Between Pastrnak, McAvoy, Lindholm, Jeremy Swayman and a pair of promising prospects in Fabian Lysell and Mason Loheri, the Bruins could enter a smoother transition from the post-Bergeron era. But Sweeney and the front office need to produce better results in upcoming drafts and future free agent and trade pickups if they have any shot of joining the ranks of the Lighting, Avalanche and other elite NHL franchises.

    With Bergeron’s rumored return, the rebuilding era will have to wait a little longer. The urgency to contend once more with the five-time Selke winner captaining the ship remains. And they certainly can’t afford another year of the status quo.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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