It’s been a little over two weeks since the Bruins crashed out of the playoffs, and the dust is starting to settle.
While the Stanley Cup has yet to be awarded, that hasn’t stopped the Bruins rumor mill from ushering in an offseason of optimism and uncertainty. 

Boston enters the offseason with $22.5m in cap space to improve upon a 47-win, 109-point roster, and several key contributors approaching free agency. 

Jeremy Swayman, Jake DeBrusk, and Danton Heinen headline the list of Bruins without contracts for 2024-25. 


Swayman played the 2023-24 season on a one-year, $3.475m deal and has certainly earned a substantial raise based on his postseason performance.

DeBrusk is coming off a two-year, $8m deal where his value to the team is still hotly debated. While his regular season production dropped from ‘22-’23, DeBrusk led the Bruins in postseason scoring this year.

At the end-of-season press conference, Don Sweeney and Cam Neely presented a rough road map for the off-season

Neely stated that the Bruins need to get faster and win more 50/50 puck battles. In those two areas, Boston was thoroughly outclassed by Toronto and Florida.

Sweeney made it clear that they plan to be aggressive in complementing their group and that extending Swayman is a priority. He also stated that they want to keep the goaltending tandem with Ullmark together but will explore opportunities if they come. 

DeBrusk did not quite get a similar vote of confidence. Sweeney bluntly said, “Negotiations are a two-way street, “ implying they would unlikely find common ground with his camp. 

While it seems counterintuitive to let your fastest skater walk after wanting to prioritize speed, the price tag may be too high. 


Who Else Stays? Who Else is Going?

Sweeney also mentioned a desire to keep Patrick Maroon in the fold for his leadership but did not say much else at the time. Since then, more information has trickled out regarding the rest of the Bruins’ pending FAs. 

Per David Pagnotta, Boston will meet with Danton Heinen’s camp to discuss a new contract this week. Pagnotta also noted that Derek Forbort is planning to hit the free-agent market.

To date, there hasn’t been any additional information on Shattenkirk, Van Riemsdyk, or Grzelcyk regarding contract talks.

The Ullmark Problem

The burning question for Sweeney this offseason is what to do with Linus Ullmark? The former Vezina winner will enter the last year of his four-year contract with a $5m cap hit. With Swayman effectively seizing the crease with his playoff performance and impending big-money deal, should the Bruins capitalize on Ullmark’s value?

Several teams will be in the goaltending market this summer, and Sweeney could leverage the demand into a big return. The Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils have already been linked to the Swedish netminder, with hypothetical trades for Martin Necas or the #10 overall pick floating around the internet. 

It could very well be a “damned if you, damned if you don’t” move for Sweeney. If Ullmark is to be traded, the Bruins would get assets in return and an added $5m in cap space to fortify the roster. There’s also the possibility of damaging locker room chemistry with such a move.

However, goaltending was Boston’s undeniable #1 strength this past year. There’s no telling how Brandon Bussi or another free-agent goalie could fill Ullmark’s production. The added possibility of Ullmark walking next summer in free agency also exists if he’s not re-signed.


Don Sweeney already has a lot on his plate for the summer, even before free agency opens.
There are plenty of reasons for optimism and uncertainty, and only time will tell how it plays out.

PHOTO: Boston Globe

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