Over the next few weeks, Die By The Blade staffers will take an in-depth look at each of the other teams in the Atlantic Division as the Buffalo Sabres prepare for the 2021-22 season.
Next up: the Boston Bruins.
Last Season’s Results: 33-16-7, 73 points (3rd in the East Division)
Key Offseason Acquisitions: On April 7, the Bruins acquired center Curtis Lazar and left winger Taylor Hall from the Sabres in exchange for left winger Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round draft pick. The team also received defenseman Mike Reilly from Ottawa for a 2022 third-round draft pick.
Key Offseason Losses: The Bruins traded goalie Dan Vladar to the Calgary Flames on July 28 in exchange for a 2022 third-round draft pick. Steven Kampfer left the NHL to sign with Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL and Paul Carey joined Djurgardens IF of the SHL. Kevan Miller retired. Jaroslav Halek signed with the Vancouver Canucks, while Sean Kuraly signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Other players who left include Greg McKegg and Jarred Tinordi (New York Rangers) Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie (Toronto Maple Leafs) Jeremy Lauzon (Seattle Kraken) and David Krejci (HC Olomouc of the EHL).
NHL Contracts Added: Taylor Hall, Linus Ullmark, Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, Tomas Nosek, Mike Reilly, Derek Forbort, Troy Grosenick, Samuel Asselin, Steven Fogarty, Tyler Lewington
Season Outlook: Boston sports fans, media and pundits have salivated over the prospect of the Bruins acquiring Sabres captain Jack Eichel in a trade, especially after Eichel went on Boston 25 News in July and told reporter Sara Underwood it would be “pretty cool” to play for his hometown one day. However, it’s unlikely that Sabres GM Kevyn Adams will trade his captain to one of his division rivals. Eichel’s subsequent firing of agents Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli, who had a good relationship with Bruins GM Don Sweeny and replacing him with Pat Brisson, makes a Jack Eichel Boston deal even less imminent, according to Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now.
The NHL temporarily dissolved the Atlantic Division during the 2020-21 season and lumped the Bruins into the East Division with some tough opponents such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and New York Islanders. Boston managed to beat the Caps 4-1 in the first playoff round before falling to the Islanders 4-2 in the second round.
Bruce Cassidy remains head coach, a position he’s held since 2017.
In spite of some key personnel losses, the Bruins shored up their offense and defense with a depth that should serve them well in the upcoming season. The franchise made some good acquisitions through signings and trades. In addition, solid veterans including Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak remain on the roster.
Boston returns to the Atlantic Division and will need to contend with defending Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning. The Montreal Canadiens, who faced Tampa for the Cup, are another strong foe. The Panthers are improving and the Leafs, who have had good regular seasons, tend to fall flat in recent first playoff rounds, which could help the Bruins advance. As Scott Roche of The Hockey Writers predicts, Boston has a stronger core than last season that will help the team as the season goes along and boost their playoff prospects.
Games vs. Buffalo: Oct. 22 (in BUF), Nov. 24 (in BUF), Jan. 1 (in BOS), Apr. 28 (in BOS)