Boston Bruins

Aug 31, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning with center Patrice Bergeron (left) and left wing Brad Marchand (63) during the second period in game five of the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

There’s going to be a lot of window talk this offseason. Is it open for the Boston Bruins? Closed? Slightly ajar?

Perhaps more importantly, how does the window look? Is it nice and new, freshly painted, no cracks? Or is it a rotting, decrepit mess?

The answer, as it often does, lies in the middle. And the window is not closed for the Bruins. But it could sure use some dressing up. Bring in a contractor, hire some painters, hammer and drill away.

In the case of the 2020 offseason, the contractor is Bruins GM Don Sweeney. This offseason is more important for him than anyone on the roster. While the window may be closing on certain players – what does the future hold for Zdeno Chara? – he has a core that can keep the B’s in contention for a playoff run.

But to transform them into a real Stanley Cup contender? One that can hang with the likes of Tampa Bay, or overcome a team with size like the Blues? One that doesn’t need to rely on their power play or for superior teams to bow out early in order to make the Cup Final in the first place?

General Manager Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins speaks during Media Day ahead of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on May 26, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

General Manager Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins speaks during Media Day ahead of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on May 26, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Sweeney has a good core moving forward, but most of it emerged before his time as GM. Outside of trading for Charlie Coyle and granting him an extension, and drafting Charlie McAvoy, Sweeney needs to prove that he can build well enough around the margins for the rest of the Bruins’ core to feel it has what it needs around them. Enough to elevate to another level from what we’ve seen in their past three playoff defeats.

McAvoy, Coyle, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak. Even throw Jack Studnicka, Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk in there if you want. This is a core that can be built around and contend. But around them, the pieces need to change, and they need to change in a way that makes them a more dangerous playoff team. Read: better at 5-on-5, stouter on the defensive end. Everyone else should be on the table.

That means they need to get bigger. And I’ve met resistance on this for years. But I don’t know how one can continue to watch this same movie over and over again and realize that the franchise needs to go in a different direction. Yes, I’m a size-ist. But I’m not talking about a team full of Nick Ritchies. No one deserves to be subjected to that.

MORE: Zdeno Chara ‘Open-Minded’ About NHL Future

I’m talking about forwards with the size to hold up against a big defender on the forecheck, get to the middle, get to the front of the net, open up space for his linemates. More Coyle types. Sweeney obviously identified a player built for playoff performance in Coyle. Both of the top-2 lines need more of that.

What’s the solution? If Jake DeBrusk stays, perhaps he’s better off as the third-line right wing next to Coyle. Maybe Coyle needs to move up to Bergeron’s right wing, with Pastrnak moving down to play with David Krejci (assuming he stays). If they decide to make a big trade for a top-six forward, perhaps they make a play for Calgary’s Sean Monahan, as Ty Anderson suggested in the newest episode of the Sports Hub Sidelines podcast. He’s 6-foot-2, over 200 pounds, and plays a strong two-way game. He deserves a chance to make a real playoff run, because he’s the kind of player you need up and down your lineup to succeed at this time of the season.

Jan 13, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) celebrates his goal with left wing Anders Bjork (10) and left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins center David Krejci celebrates a goal with Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk. (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

Sweeney has been hit-or-miss with trades. And he’s certainly been a disaster in his quest to add power forwards to the lineup. So maybe just focus on making more Coyle-type trades. Because their lack of size, and lack of finish with their “speed & skill” guys, simply cannot continue to doom them in the playoffs. Major changes are needed.

On the back end, they have the inverse problem. The sight of Torey Krug struggling to contain a moose of a man in Patrick Maroon, just as Tampa’s series-winning goal slips by Jaroslav Halak, is emblematic. Krug may be gone via free agency, and it may be what’s best for both sides. Krug can cash in on perhaps his last chance to do so, and the Bruins can replace him with a bigger defenseman who plays more of a two-way style with a heavier game on defense. It’s worth taking the hit on the power play if it means you’ll be better 5-on-5. McAvoy may emerge as the next Krug offensively, anyway, as soon as next season.

If Chara and the Bruins re-up for another season, can he continue in a top-pairing role? Chara certainly deserves to make the call on whether to retire, so it’s only right to stay out of that conversation. But if he does stay, it would benefit the team to move him to more of a third-pairing, penalty-killing specialist kind of role.

MORE: Even B’s Best Punch Couldn’t Sink Lightning

And despite all the questions up and down the lineup at forward and defense, arguably the biggest issue lies in goal. Tuukka Rask is under contract for one more season, and if he decides to keep playing, the B’s have a challenging decision in front of them. Anyone with a conscience respected Rask’s decision to leave the bubble and be with his wife and kids amid a reported family emergency.

But purely from a hockey standpoint, it’s fair for Sweeney and Cam Neely to wonder whether they can rely on him anymore, and whether it’s time to move on. There will be options in free agency, but do they want to drop another big contract on a different goalie instead of keeping Rask around?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 15: Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period of the game against the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden on February 15, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins looks on during a game against the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

It’s unlikely that all of these things can happen overnight, or in one single offseason. But as Ty and I discussed in the newest podcast, the time for major, home-run moves is now. No more Ritchie brothers. No more putting a Band-aid on a bullet wound. They’re not good enough at the top of their roster, and the makeup of the group is not ideal for playoff success. They’ve plodded along hoping that the core as constructed will break through for long enough.

The window is still open, and especially if McAvoy stays long-term, it will stay open. But as it closes for a few key individuals, the goal is to open it wider. And the only way to do it is to make bold moves. The kind that won the Blues a Stanley Cup. And the kind that may win Tampa a Cup after stomping on the Bruins in the process.

Listen below for the newest episode of the Sports Hub Sidelines podcast:

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.