Boston Bruins face a critical summer as they strive to put the misery of their recent exit from the NHL play-offs firmly behind them.
Their Game 7 defeat in overtime against the Florida Panthers left their fans in state of shock, but put a smile on the face of online bookmakers.
The Bruins finished 43 points ahead of the Panthers during the regular season – a margin that made them huge favourites to win the series with the sports betting oddsmakers.
NHL legends such as Brett Hull had tipped them to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, saying they would be ‘very hard to beat in the East’.
He also backed ‘Dallas to make it to the Finals’, so is still in line to get part of his prediction correct after the Bruins bombed out.
Having had a couple of weeks to digest the disappointment, we look at some of the issues the Bruins must address this summer.
Wave goodbye to some veterans?
Veterans Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci played crucial roles during the regular season, finishing third and fifth in the Bruins points scoring chart.
However, the pair were disappointing during the play-offs and it is unclear whether either of them will fancy playing for another season.
Bergeron undoubtedly has at least another year in him and the Bruins would be well-advised to retain his excellent leadership skills.
Krejci is arguably more expendable, particularly as the Bruins do not currently have much salary cap flexibility available to them.
Prioritize a new deal for Bertuzzi
In addition to resolving the futures of their veterans, the Bruins must also consider what to do with their trio of trade deadline additions – Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway.
The latter two players are both dispensable, but Bertuzzi showed enough alongside David Pastrnak to warrant retaining his services.
He was a standout performer during the play-off series against the Panthers, bagging five goals and five assists in seven appearances.
His ability to do the dirty work and set up his teammates with excellent scoring chances is a skillset the Bruins cannot afford to pass up.
Sacrifice some expensive cap hits
As mentioned earlier, the Bruins do not have much salary cap to play with, so they must be creative this summer if they want to improve their roster.
Winger Nick Foligno falls into that category given he is in the latter stage of his career and has missed plenty of games through injury over the past two seasons.
Sacrificing one their netminding tandem of Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman would also give Boston the opportunity to acquire a missing piece of the jigsaw.
With Swayman set for a salary increase as a restricted free agent, it makes sense to trade him this summer and maximise his value.
Give their promising youth corps a chance
While the Bruins are not overly stacked with promising youngsters, they have a handful who have shown enough to warrant being handed opportunities.
Swedish forward Fabian Lysell leaps off the page after a productive season with the Providence Bruins in the AHL.
John Beecher, Marc McLaughlin and Oskar Steen also have the potential to step up to the NHL, albeit as fourth-line grinders.
Netminder Brandon Bussi is another option if the Bruins decide to part company with either Ullmark or Swayman this summer.