By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is running out of housekeeping tasks.
After signing Matt Grzelcyk last weekend — and taking care of fellow restricted free agents Karson Kuhlman and Zach Senyshyn this week — Jake DeBrusk is now the B's lone remaining restricted free agent. The team also needs to make a call on Zdeno Chara, but it appears that that won't come until the 43-year-old captain of 14 years makes his decision on 2020-21.
So, uh, are the Bruins done?
"We continue to look for depth opportunities or players that were in trade conversations that we may have a hole to fill," Sweeney said last weekend. "I wouldn’t say we have anything imminent to put forth."
...Yeah. Probably not what you're looking for, I know.
The Bruins' big move to date came with the signing of middle-six, five-on-five scorer Craig Smith to a three-year deal. They also re-signed Kevan Miller, who missed all of last season due to knee issues, to a one-year deal worth up to $2 million. Besides that, it's been a lot of in-house work to promote the internal competition that's quickly become the name of the game this offseason.
"We snagged Greg McKegg from a depth standpoint and create internal completion as well," Sweeney noted. "As I’ve mentioned before, we have several players that are knocking on the door that we’d like them to see them continue to push, both in our forward group and our backend. A little bit of a growth opportunity [and] we still have to figure out how the season plays out."
And some of that often-dreaded 'internal competition' talk has a bit to do with options and a lack thereof for some.
2015 first-round picks Jakub Zboril and Senyshyn will need to make the team out of training camp or they'll hit the waiver wire. Deadline additions Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie are still looking to find their ideal fits in Boston after a coronavirus-interrupted season stunted their games. Anders Bjork is still looking to lock down a full-time role. Same for Kuhlman. Then there's prospects like Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic, the former undoubtedly appearing to be ahead of schedule to those within the front office while the latter may be an intriguing project given the increased size and strength component within the Atlantic.
There's also the fact that the B's are almost certainly going to begin next season without Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.
There's just a lot of unknowns with the Black and Gold's Opening Night 23, leaving Sweeney to fall back on "depth."
"We’re comfortable at some point in time we’re going to be up and running, and our guys will be ready to go," said Sweeney. "We felt all along that we were going to need some internal growth. As far as the cap space, I think we’re in a very comfortable position to finalize the RFA guys we have to and look for other opportunities that we may be able to pursue otherwise."
Just what those other opportunities are, if indeed explored, is something worth watching on its own.
Mike Hoffman, the league's 20th-best goal scorer last year, is still on the market and willing to take a one-year deal. The Bruins were at one point considered to be one of the teams 'most interested' in signing him. And if you go back to the failed trade talks for the Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson, it would appear that the Bruins have or had an interest in upgrading the left side of their defense. That may remain the case... or the Bruins are truly embracing a youth movement.
Those discussions and possibilities feel like they're trapped in a slow-moving, wait-and-see approach.
Like everything else in the 2020-21 season and our world as a whole, really.