Before jumping into the team preview the Boston Bruins, I should take a minute to remember former Boston Bruins player and Boston-native Jimmy Hayes. The 31-year-old died in mid-August. It was a loss felt not only by the players in the NHL, but also by the people of Boston.
On the day of Hayes’ funeral, children lined the streets and offered a stick tap in tribute:
The hockey world came together on Monday to mourn Jimmy Hayes— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) August 31, 2021
Outside of the church and along the funeral route, hundreds of hockey fans lined the streets to pay tribute to Hayes with stick taps and a stick salute ❤️pic.twitter.com/te9AGGUXKg
While Hayes was not a Bruin when he died, his absence will be felt throughout the Bruins’ season.
The team put together a tribute to the Boston native following his funeral. There is no word on if or how the Bruins organization plans to pay tribute to Hayes this coming season.
Our hearts and thoughts are with the Boston hockey community.
Where they left off
The Bruins finished the 2020-21 season with a 33-16-7 record, good enough for third place in the East division. That set Boston up for a first-round matchup with the Washington Capitals.
Things looked good for Bruins fans. The team ousted the Capitals in five games and looked well-positioned for their second-round meeting with the New York Islanders. However, the Islanders had other plans and beat the Bruins 4-2 in the best-of-seven series.
The team played its final game of the series without forward Curtis Lazar or defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller. In the case of Carlo, who likely suffered a concussion in Game 3 of the Islanders’ series, the Bruins are hoping he’s back to full strength for this season.
After the series, goaltender Tuukka Rask announced he would need hip surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. Rask got the surgery in mid-July, just as his contract with the Bruins ended. As of this writing, he still doesn’t have a team to play for. Rask says he only wants to play for Boston. Boston hasn’t committed to the 34-year-old yet. Even if they do, Rask won’t know until December if he’s healthy enough to return to the ice.
In June, the team worked out a deal with the Maine Mariners to become their new ECHL affiliate and help the Bruins’ brass keep an eye on their younger prospects.
As for the signings before the draft, the Bruins made sure to lock up young defenseman Carlo to a six-year extension with a cap hit of $4.1 million per year. The contract will allow the Bruins to keep the 24-year-old through the 2026-27 season.
Smaller signings included 23-year-old restricted free agent Trent Frederic, Cameron Hughes and Joonas Koppanen. Frederic signed a two-year contract with a $1.05 million cap hit per season, while Hughes and Koppanen each received one-year, two-way deals with $750,000 AAVs.
With Carlo set for the foreseeable future, the Bruins exposed several young defensemen during the expansion draft. The Seattle Kraken took one of them, Jeremy Lauzon. Last season, Lauzon played 41 games for the Bruins and had 8 points (1 goal, 7 assists) and 40 penalty minutes.
2021 Entry Draft
The Bruins had plenty of picks heading into the 2021 entry draft, including a first-round selection. With the 20th pick overall, Boston selected Fabian Lysell, a young forward out of Sweden. He is expected to play for Luleå HF of the Swedish Hockey League next season.
Following this pick, there was some buzz that Lysell had “character concerns.” Our friends at Stanley Cup of Chowder dove into the reports and found that “character concerns” might be another way of saying he’s not afraid to speak up for what he wants.
Boston had six more picks in the draft. They used the 85th pick overall to select Canadian forward Brett Harrison. Harrison is a big boy; at 18-years-old, he is already 6-foot-2, 185 pounds.
The team used pick number 117 to select Philip Svedeback, a goaltender from Sweden. Svedeback is expected to play for the USHL Dubuque Fighting Saints next season.
In the later rounds, the Bruins selected Swedish center Oskar Jellvik with the 149th overall pick, American defenseman Ryan Mast with the 181st overall pick, American forward Andre Gasseau with the 213th overall pick and American defenseman Ty Gallagher with the 217th overall pick.
The first day of free agency saw the deal that most Bruins’ fans expected: Taylor Hall signed on for four more years in Boston with a $6 million AAV. It was no secret that both sides wanted the deal. Hall approved the trade from the Buffalo Sabres to the Bruins during the 2021 season. Meanwhile, the Bruins benefited from Hall’s offensive prowess. He scored 14 points in 16 regular season games for Boston and then tacked on 5 points in 11 games during the playoffs.
The team did not extend qualifying offers to former Anaheim Ducks Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase. Kase signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 30, while Ritchie signed with the Leafs a day later on July 31.
After signing Hall, the Bruins worked on building up the blueline. They signed defenseman Mike Reilly to a three-year deal with a $3 million AAV. Defenseman Derek Forbort also received a three-year deal with a $3 million AAV.
Once the defense was taken care of, Boston used its cap room to deal with other needs. With Rask out, they signed former Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark to a four-year deal with a $5 million AAV. They traded rookie goaltender Dan Vladar to the Calgary Flames for a third-round pick in 2022. Then they signed former Sharks goaltender Troy Grosenick to a two-way deal worth $750,000.
For the Bruins, the big question was whether David Krejci would return to Boston or stay and play at home in the Czech league. On August 2, Krejci decided to stay in the Czech Republic, at least for this coming season.
With all the signings, this is how Daily Faceoff sees things shaking out to start the season:
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall — Charlie Coyle — Craig Smith
Jake Debrusk — Erik Haula — Nick Foligno
Trent Frederic — Tomas Nosek — Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk — Charlie McAvoy
Derek Forbort — Brandon Carlo
Mike Reilly — Connor Clifton
What can we expect in 2021-22?
Boston did what it could to keep pace with the rest of the Atlantic Division, but losing David Krejci will hurt.
The Bruins have to compete with the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions the Tampa Bay Lightning, the high-powered offense of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the boring, yet efficient Montreal Canadiens and the always competitive Florida Panthers. There’s also the off-chance that the Detroit Red Wings will surprise some teams this season. The Atlantic Division will be tough to come out of and the Bruins will need all the help they can get to make the playoffs.
That said, they’re still substantially better than the Sharks.
Logan Couture and company pay a visit to Beantown on October 24. The Bruins find their way to San Jose on February 26, 2022.