The Boston Bruins are entering the offseason with $22.8m in cap space and large roster holes to fill.

This playoff run put all the Bruins’ holes on full display, and GM Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely have already established areas they wish to improve.

Sweeney and Neely were dead on about needing more speed and winning 50/50 puck battles.  Toronto and Florida skated circles around Boston for the majority of both series. The Bruins were beaten to loose pucks far too often and constantly struggled to clear the zone.

But those aren’t the only needs that have to be addressed.r

Top Six scoring production practically vanished, especially down the middle. Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha combined for two goals in thirteen games. 

Another nagging issue from the regular season that was on full display was faceoffs. The Bruins were a pedestrian team all year on faceoffs and even worse in the playoffs. Toronto dominated the dot, winning 56% of all draws, which still leads all playoff teams.

Last but not least is grit. For the second year in a row, Florida out-toughed and outgunned the Bruins. Boston has been getting outmuscled by more physical teams in the postseason ever since St Louis. It’s a broken record, but they still need to get tougher in order to be serious Cup contenders.

With all that in mind, who should Boston target this offseason?

Elias Lindholm

Elias Lindholm has been a name linked with the Bruins for years. He’s arguably the top Center on the free agent market this summer and could be a perfect fit in Boston. 

The 29-year-old Swede is coming off a bit of a down-year split between Calgary and Vancouver but could address several needs at once. He’s a former Selke finalist with Calgary and has a 42-goal season to his name to go with several 20-goal campaigns. 

His scoring output alone would slot him into the 1C position for the B’s, but he’d also instantly become their best faceoff man. His 56.4% faceoff win rate was 15th in the NHL this past season, easily clearing Zacha (54.8%) and Beecher (54.6%). 

Lindholm especially excels at Defensive Zone draws (57.5%, t-10th), an area where Boston especially struggled late in games this season. 

Slotting Lindholm into the top line could fix the Bruins’ depth issues at the position instantly. Zacha and Coyle could each bump down to the second and third line, where they excelled in ‘22-’23. Or Zacha could slide to the Wing while Coyle stays on the second line and Matt Poitras returns to the lineup at 3C. 

The caveat for Lindholm is that he almost assuredly won’t come cheap. He’s already declined 8x$9m and 7x$7m deals from Calgary and Vancouver this season. Boston has the cap space to sign him, but those demands may be a little too rich. 

Martin Necas

Martin Necas is a newer name to the fold, one based more on untapped potential than proven performance.

Necas’ name emerged recently in hypothetical trades with Carolina. The 25-year-old Czech wing is an RFA this summer who may price himself out of Raleigh. 

After a 71-point breakout campaign in ‘22-’23, Necas’ scoring regressed to 53 points this past season. A change of scenery and a guaranteed top-six role in Boston could potentially help him recover his previous form.

Necas has blazing speed and solid analytics at 5-on-5, making him a strong candidate for two of Boston’s biggest needs. He’d also revive the “Czeching Line” with Pastrnak and Zacha. 

However, as Necas is an RFA, it would take a high price to acquire him. The hypothetical trade scenarios centered around Necas have involved Linus Ullmark plus assets going the other way. Moving Ullmark would open up the money to sign Necas rather than dip into the existing space.

Of course, those are just hypothetical, and there’s no way of knowing if Carolina would actually consider the offer.

Chandler Stephenson

Chandler Stephenson is another pending free agent who has been floating out the Bruins Twitterverse. 

Stephenson just finished a four-year, $11m deal with Vegas, where he vastly outplayed his cap hit and will surely look to cash in. This past season was a bit of a dip for the 30-year-old Center, only recording 51 points, but he finished the prior two with 65 and 64 points, respectively.

The two-time Cup champ does the bulk of his work, even at strength and at the dot. Stephenson has 112 points at 5-on-5 since ‘21-’22 and won at least 52% of faceoffs in that time. During Vegas’ Cup winning season, Stephenson won 58% of his draws and scored 14/20 playoff points at even strength. 

His versatility is also an asset. He’s proven that he can play up and down the lineup in the middle and on the wing.

Stephenson wouldn’t be a flashy pickup for Boston, but he could be a vital piece for a Cup campaign. 

Max Domi

Max Domi would be a bit of a wild card pickup, but there’s a method to the madness.

Bruins fans should be well acquainted with the pesky Center from the Toronto series. Domi was all over the ice as a thorn in the Bruins’ side and an underrated playmaker. 

Domi finished the series tied for the Leafs’ lead in points with 4, all of which came at even strength. For the season as a whole, Domi recorded 47 points in 80 games, 44 of which came at even strength.

He’s not known as a faceoff ace, with only one season >50% on draws to his name. However, he won 66.7% of his faceoffs against Boston in the playoffs. 

The real quality Domi would bring to the Bruins is his style of play. He isn’t one to back down from a challenge, as evident by his 118 PIMs, which would’ve led the Bruins this season. 

The past two Springs against Florida have shown how these Bruins don’t really like to get their hands dirty. Domi would be the first man into the mud every time and give the team some bite they’ve badly missed. 

It’s certainly a pipe dream move, but it would make more sense than you’d think.

PHOTO: ClutchPoints

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