Don Sweeney point out two targeted player by Bruins

In the offseason, who should the Bruins target?

Mick Colageo of joins Joe Haggerty to discuss the end-of-season news conferences from Don Sweeney and Jim Montgomery and to speculate about the players the Bruins should try to add to their roster in the winter.

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Bruins Must Realistically Factor Poitras Into Center Plans

The Boston Bruins will have 20-year-old Matt Poitras firmly positioned in their plans when they report to training camp in 2024–25. This is in contrast to the 2023–24 season, when Poitras became a virtual lock every night after emerging as a dark horse to make the roster. Poitras, a right-shot center with respectable offensive pop, may have an impact on the Bruins’ offseason acquisition strategy if they see him as a top-six option going forward.

The 2022 second-round pick scored 16 goals and an impressive 95 points in his final season in the OHL with the Guelph Storm before cracking the Bruins lineup the following season. In 33 NHL games, Poitras scored five goals and 15 points, displaying not only NHL talent but NHL compete-level as well; exactly how head coach Jim Montgomery wants his players to perform. While there were bumps along the way and limited opportunities to close out games as a 19-year-old rookie, Poitras never hung his head or seemed overwhelmed by the experience. Instead, he did exactly what was asked of him every night and added a different element to the Bruins’ attack.

Though Poitras may have legitimate top-six potential, the Bruins won’t be able to immediately consider him as a top-six center for next season. This is especially true when Poitras played, though impressive, only 33 games in his rookie season. Some time was lost due to his loan to Team Canada for the World Junior Championships, but the majority was lost due to Poitras’ season-ending shoulder surgery. The sample size is too small to bank on him immediately stepping into a bigger role as a sophomore, especially when his rookie season was already abbreviated. As it stands, penciling him in somewhere in the top nine, be it as a center or on the wing, is probably the team’s best bet.

This means the Bruins, who are in dire need of high-end talent down the middle, would still be in the market for a legitimate top-six center to take over for either Charlie Coyle or Pavel Zacha. The good news for the Bruins is that both Coyle and Zacha can comfortably play middle-six center minutes, as well as play on the wing if needed. Coyle is probably locked in at center, which could mean Zacha’s late-season/postseason move back to the wing could become a more permanent one moving forward.

Bruins Operating With Thin Free Agent Center Market

Unfortunately for the Bruins, though the salary cap will be on their side this offseason, the list of available free-agent talent may not be what the team is looking for in terms of upgrades. The two names most directly linked to the Bruins as free agent options this offseason have been Elias Lindholm and Chandler Stephenson.

Both players would be immediate contributors for the Bruins, but it’s hard to picture either of them as sure-fire upgrades for the team as top-tier centers. Lindholm has shown in the past that he can be a very good center in the NHL, but the contract he commands may not be in line with the consistent production he’s capable of providing, especially after a disappointing 2023-24 season in which he scored just 15 goals and 44 points in 75 games. Stephenson is a very talented player who has consistently produced in recent years in all situations and serves as a solid faceoff contributor. However, he’s already on the wrong side of 30, which means his speed could decline in the latter years of a contract if the Bruins aren’t careful with the term.

If the Bruins can find a way to secure the services of either of these players on a reasonable cap hit, they’d be wise to do so. At the same time, two of the biggest fish in a premium position in the NHL will probably sign very lucrative contracts come July. The Bruins could find themselves in a box and deem it necessary to overpay here, but that’s proven to be questionable for teams in the past. At the same time, the top-six centers don’t grow on trees and rarely find themselves available in the unrestricted free-agent market; something of which the Bruins are aware.

This would leave the Bruins with the trade market as another option to try and fill out the top of their roster, especially with a player like Martin Necas being mentioned as a possible trade candidate this offseason. Limited draft resources in the coming years could prove to be an issue here, but the Bruins do have roster players and near-NHL-ready prospects who could be the focal point of any potential trade.

It’s going to be another busy offseason for general manager Don Sweeney and co. as they attempt to improve the roster after an on-the-fly retool saw the Bruins earn 109 points and a second-round playoff berth this past season. With Poitras, Coyle, and Zacha in the fold, players like Lindholm and Stephenson on the market as free-agent options, and a bevy of trade options available, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the team ends up doing this summer.


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