Boston Bruins

Jan 1, 2019; South Bend, IN: Chicago Blackhawks center David Kampf chases the puck with Boston Bruins center Joakim Nordstrom in the first period in the 2019 Winter Classic hockey game at Notre Dame Stadium.(Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

By Ty Anderson,

Facing a flat salary cap and with their sights undoubtedly set on some big fish available in both the trade and free agent market in a truncated offseason, the Boston Bruins are expected to move on from some of their depth pieces this offseason.

And it’s likely that fourth-line fixture, Joakim Nordstrom, will be among those departures, according to the Bruins’ Don Sweeney.

“We’ve had a talk with Joakim Nordstrom that it may be challenging for us [to re-sign him],” Sweeney said. “Had good communication with J.P. [Barry] on that front. But I made sure that I spoke with [Nordstrom], that I wasn’t going to be aggressive in trying to sign him for the short term. It didn’t mean we wouldn’t consider it, but I wanted to make sure he had an early heads up.”

A bottom-six energy player, Nordstrom has spent the last two seasons with the Bruins, recording 11 goals and 19 points in 118 game, and a 4-3-7 line in 48 games this past season. But Nordstrom made his greatest impact on the Boston penalty kill, really, with a forward-leading 1:46 of shorthanded time on ice per game for a kill that’s ranked seventh in the NHL since 2018 (82 percent).

Nordstrom also had no problem straight-up eating pucks, too, with 4.04 shots blocked per 60 minutes of shorthanded action since the start of last season, which ranked him 41st out of 103 forwards with at least 200 minutes of penalty-killing action to their name.

The 6-foot-1 wing was one of the B’s unsung heroes during their 2019 run to the Stanley Cup Final, too, with three goals and five assists in 23 games. He also played through a broken foot in the team’s fourth-round series with the Blues.

Overall, the 28-year-old Nordstrom has appeared in 400 NHL games between the Blackhawks, Hurricanes, and B’s.

Sweeney’s cuts will extend to potential restricted free agents, too.

“Brett Ritchie and Brendan Gaunce would be the two players we will not issue qualifying offers to,” Sweeney added.

Signed by the Bruins last summer, and the older brother of deadline pickup Nick Ritchie, Brett Ritchie totaled just two goals and four assists during his 27-game run with the Big B’s before he was placed on waivers. The 6-foot-4 wing went unclaimed from there, and finished his season with two goals and four points in 12 games for the P-Bruins.

Oct 19, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins right wing Brett Ritchie (18) skates during the warm-up against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Gaunce, meanwhile, will hit the open market after recording 18 goals and 37 points in 52 games for Providence, along with an assist in his lone NHL game this past season.

And then there’s defenseman Wiley Sherman, a fifth-round pick by the Bruins in 2013, who will also not be tendered a qualifying offer, according to The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont. The 6-foot-6 Sherman, who played his college hockey at Harvard, appeared in 74 games over three seasons with the P-Bruins.

As for the rest of the B’s free agents to be — from Torey Krug to Zdeno Chara to the club’s restricted free agents — Sweeney will do his best to navigate through this uncertain, rapid-fire offseason with the best guess work possible.

“You just have so much uncertainty outside of maybe players or teams that will go to arbitration where you can sort of prepare accordingly in the vacuum so to speak because those cases are going to be what they are,” said Sweeney. “Everything else is sort of a complete unknown and it’s a guess work, best guess, obviously some teams may be aggressive and other teams may not. We’re trying to assess where our current RFAs are and where they fall and then how aggressive to be in the open marketplace or to stand back and wait to see if other teams need to do things accordingly and react.

“I think we’re in a decent position that way, we have some flexibility, we’re not tight in some of those situations. And we’ve got to make some hard decisions. I think every club in the league has to make hard decisions in that regard.”

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.