A year removed from winning the Stanley Cup, the Boston Bruins face many serious questions after their first-round exit from the playoffs.
What do they do in goal? Tim Thomas is 38 years old. He has a year left on his contract, but his no-trade protect expires June 30. Would another team be willing to take on his $5 million salary cap hit? Tuukka Rask appears ready to take over for Thomas and Anton Khudobin is emerging as a quality back-up.
Rask’s restricted free agency is a mitigating circumstance, since some team could make a big offer sheet if he hits the market. He would be far more inclined to sign a long-term deal as the starter in Boston. Or how about this: The Bruins could keep Thomas, groom Khudobin to take over long-term and move Rusk to add another cornerstone player.
Center Chris Kelly figures to hit it rich as an unrestricted free agent. He is a solid two-way player coming off a 20-goal season. He emerged as a Bruins leader. Can Boston afford to let him go?
Power forward Nathan Horton should return at some point from his post-concussion syndrome. That could be a mammoth addition without additional cost.
Supporting cast checkers Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille could hit the bricks. So could venerable forward Brian Rolston. So could defensemen Joe Corvo, Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau.
The Boston Herald notes that young D-men Andrew Bodnarchuk, Torey Krug, David Warsofsky and Tommy Cross are ready to bid for jobs. And ESPN Boston notes that several cornerstone players are due new contracts after next season, including potential RFAs Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand.