The Boston Bruins' first-round elimination by the Carolina Hurricanes leaves general manager Don Sweeney facing some interesting off-season decisions.
The future plans of Patrice Bergeron tops that list. The 36-year-old Bruins captain is eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 13. Cap Friendly shows him completing an eight-year contract worth an annual average value of $6.875 million.
A finalist for the Selke Trophy for the 11th straight year, Bergeron remains among the NHL's elite two-way centers. Losing him would leave a big gap at center that Sweeney would find difficult to fill. For now, Bergeron is taking time to decide whether he'll keep playing or retire to spend more time with his young family.
If Bergeron continues his playing career, it won't be with the Montreal Canadiens. He shot down a rumor suggesting he'd sign with the Canadiens now that his former agent Kent Hughes is their general manager. It's Bruins or nothing.
The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa believes Sweeney still must shore up the Bruins' depth at center even if Bergeron returns. He still hasn't found a suitable replacement for David Krejci after the latter returned to his native Czechia last summer to finish his playing career.
Perhaps Jake DeBrusk can be used as a trade chip to address that problem. The 25-year-old winger signed a two-year contract extension in March but he still hasn't rescinded last November's trade request. His improved play down the stretch after being placed on the Bergeron line could boost his value in the trade market.
Shinzawa also speculated Matt Grzelcyk could be the odd man out on the Bruins blueline. They already have four left-shot defensemen and he has better trade value than Mike Reilly or Derek Forbert.