The transition period is a good time to get opinions, as evidenced by the approximately 2,500 subscribers who have completed the athleteOffseason Bruins survey.
What did you have to say about what was already busy off season? Some results were more one-sided than others.
Should Cassidy have been fired?
A clear majority does not think Bruce Cassidy deserves to be fired. Cassidy’s results speak for themselves: six playoffs in the six seasons he served as head coach.
Cassidy himself didn’t believe the class was in his future after season-ending exit meetings with management. But after returning from the NHL Combine, General Manager Don Sweeney broke the news on June 6 during a visit to Cassidy’s home.
Did Cassidy do his job well?
The vast majority endorsed Cassidy’s performance. After qualifying for the playoffs six times in a row, Cassidy oversaw a team that became known for having one of the league’s strongest defenses. Help David Pasternak and Charlie McAvoy develop into key players. Under Cassidy’s watch, Brad Marchand became the best left winger in the NHL and Patrice Bergeron became a more dangerous offensive weapon – while winning a fifth Selke Cup, no less.
“I feel like I’ve done my job,” Cassidy said.
Among the following potential candidates, who would you rather see as the next Bruins coach?
Nearly half of respondents believe that Leach should be Cassidy’s replacement. Leach, Kraken’s first-year assistant, had been Providence’s head coach for the previous three seasons. He played for the Bruins in 2006. McAvoy, Connor Clifton, Jake DeBrusk, Trent Frederic, Matt Grzelcyk, Oscar Steen, Jack Studenica, Jeremy Swayman and Jacob Zborel played with Leach. The 42-year-old is a positive, energetic and hardworking coach.
Barry Trotz took second place in the vote. Trotz as Cassidy: The premier defense coach who preaches structure and accountability. He has twice won the Jack Adams Award as the best coach in the NHL.
Mike Babcock hasn’t had much support.
Are Neely and Sweeney the right CEOs to lead the Bruins?
Sweeney and Cam Neely did not do well. Sweeney has been Managing Director since 2015 when he replaced Peter Chiarelli.
The Bruins did not participate in the playoffs in 2015-16, Sweeney’s first full season as a GM. Claude sacked Julien on February 7, 2017, replacing him with Cassidy.
Sweeney was aggressive with trade deadlines and open free agency. Humbus Lindholm, Taylor Hall, Mike Riley and Curtis Lazar are among his recent acquisitions. Nick Foligno, Derek Forport, Eric Howla, Thomas Nosek and Linus Olmark have signed as unrestricted free agents in the latest off-season.
Neely became president in 2010. The position did not exist before then. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in his first season as president. He fired Chiarelli in 2015 and replaced him with former teammate Sweeney.
Is the organization heading in the right direction?
Most respondents are not optimistic about the future. The coach is gone. The Bruins await the decision of Patrice Bergeron. Grzelcyk, Marchand and McAvoy will not be ready for the start of 2022-23. David Pasternak has a year left on his contract. Fabian Liesel and Mason Lohri don’t have a lot of high-end companies in the pool of possibilities.
Could the Bruins have won the Stanley Cup in 2021-22?
The healthy majority did not consider the 2021-22 Bruins team worthy of the cup. Tampa Bay is aiming for its third consecutive title. Lightning may be facing the toughest task yet in a powerful avalanche.
Will the Bruins win the cup in 2022-23?
This was the most obvious decision: that the Bruins would not lift the trophy in 2022-23. At this time, the center is their biggest shortage. Neither Haula nor Charlie Coyle, currently 1-2 on the depth chart, qualifies to be the elite pivot.
The early absences of Grzelcyk, Marchand and McAvoy won’t help matters either.
Will the Bruins play the playoffs in 2022-23?
However, whether the Bruins will make the playoffs in 2022-23 is seen as a coin flip. They should be good in the net with Swayman and Olmark. All of their defense men are contracted. Perhaps they can walk into the water early by pressing defense while Grzelcyk, Marchand and McAvoy recover.
Should the Bruins be rebuilt immediately?
Once again, another call to coin currency. Cassidy’s class might be a good time to get off to a clean start. If Bergeron says goodbye, it will be another step toward ripping off.
But the Bruins, as noted above, may still have a good enough roster to make the playoffs. TD Garden is full. Selling assets now will not be good for short term business.
Will Bergeron return?
A slight majority think Bergeron played his last game. If so, Bergeron comes out with his legacy and his health intact. Bergeron is the best defensive striker of all time with record-breaking five Silke wins. He has 400 goals, and is the first player to score that number with Bruins.
If Bergeron returns, he will have to adapt to a new coach. Marchand wouldn’t be by his side sooner. The 37-year-old was chasing a trophy that pollsters declared their quest unrealistic.
Will Craigsie return?
Far more respondents believe David Craigie’s time with the Bruins is over than Bergeron. Krejci, the Bruins’ second-round pick in 2004, played for HC Olomouc in 2021-22. He is currently in South Carolina, the home state of wife Naomi. Whether Krejci wants to resume his NHL career in 2022-23 is unknown.
Will Pastrnak re-sign?
Nearly two-thirds of respondents see Pastrnak re-escalation with the Bruins. It could happen as soon as July 13, the first time the right wing has been entitled to agree to an extension. It is likely to be a deal for a maximum period of eight years. That could take 26-year-old Pasternak to the end of his NHL career.
But the question is whether Pasternak wants to stay. If the organization’s future is cloudy, Pastrnak may see playing for another franchise as his best chance of winning. If so, the Bruins couldn’t let Pastrnak walk for nothing.
Should Bruins DeBrusk Trade?
Another 50-50 decision, this time in connection with the Bruins’ third-scorer in 2021-22. It is not known if DeBrusk’s trade order remains active. He may have changed his mind after Cassidy’s dismissal. Either way, the value of DeBrusk’s trade will be higher now than it was before.
If DeBrusk goes, the Bruins will need offensive help in return. He and Hal are currently the top left wingers while Marchand is unavailable.
If the Bruins were trading an out-of-season defensive man, who would you prefer to switch over?
Mike Riley is signed until 2024 for $3 million annually. He can move pucks and support the attack. Riley isn’t a sharp defensive tackle like Grzelcic. As such, he is the most likely to move out of the five left-handed defenders under contract.
Will Fredrik Stodnica be among the top nine strikers in the National Hockey League next year?
Respondents do not trust Fredrik and Studnica very much. Frederick was put on the bench for part of Game 7 against Carolina after being involved in a critical sequence: hitting the iron at one end, then failing to fill the pass lane at the other. Meanwhile, Studnicka hasn’t even created Posteason’s list.
Frederick, 24, was signed for one more season for $1.05 million. Studnicka, 23, is a restricted free agent.
Do the Bruins have enough good prospects?
The pool of odds is weak. Aside from Lysell and Lohrei, perhaps the closest NHL asset is John Beecher, the 30th pick in 2019. Beecher, 21, appeared in nine games for Providence (three goals and five points) after ending his junior season at the University of Michigan. He will begin his first full professional season in Providence in 2022-23.
The Bruins did not have a first-round pick for 2022. They are also without second-round players in 2023 and 2024, which they exchanged for Anaheim in a Lindholm deal.
Bruins targeted the college’s free agency as an alternative way to fill out the pool of possibilities. Jack Ahakan, Mark McLaughlin and Georgie Merkulov, all disorganized, are some of the latest signings.
Did the Bruins craft well?
The Top Picks or Drafting cycle late in the first round has taken its toll. They only had four picks in 2020. They drafted five players in 2018 and 2019.
The darkest cloud over the organization is Draft 2015. Seven years later, failure to restock remains Sweeney’s most significant flaw. Zboril, DeBrusk and Brandon Carlo are the three players remaining from their six picks in the first two rounds.
(Top photo by Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand: Orlando Ramirez: USA Today)