The 5 Bruins players not expected to return next season

 The 5 Bruins players not expected to return next season

The Boston Bruins could look a lot different in 2024-25. With eight players set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, and RFA Jeremy Swayman needing a long-term contract, general manager Don Sweeney and the front office are facing a tall task this offseason.

Jake DeBrusk is the key UFA; the 27-year-old led Boston with 11 points in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs, frequently looking like a top player against both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers. But the lifetime Bruin is unlikely to return next season, reported The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa on Monday.

“General manager Don Sweeney appears to have a price in mind. To this point, he has not been willing to exceed it,” Shinzawa wrote regarding the significant raise DeBrusk will command on his next deal. “So unless the sides compromise between now and July 1, it appears the expiration of his two-year, $8 million contract will mean the end of DeBrusk’s time as a Bruin.”

As well, Shinzawa writes that the likelihood of Derek Forbort, Matt Grzelcyk, Kevin Shattenkirk and James van Riemsdyk returning is “very low.” Danton Heinen and Pat Maroon, who could also test the free agency waters, have a better chance of re-signing in Boston, confirms Shinzawa.

Still, it’ll be the second straight mass offseason exodus if four or five players choose to move on, and next summer it’ll be captain Brad Marchand and goaltender Linus Ullmark needing new contracts — if the latter isn’t traded before next year.

Bruins brass have some tough decisions to make

Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) and Boston Bruins center Trent Frederic (11) shake hands after the Panthers defeated the Bruins in game six of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Even if the Bruins lose all of Forbort, Grzelcyk, Shattenkirk and van Riemsdyk this summer, much of the core will remain in place for 2024-25 — and that’s especially true if Sweeney and the front office decide to pay DeBrusk.

After signing a two-year, $8 million pact to remain in Beantown back in March of 2022, the Edmonton native will be able to command a raise in both value and term. He deserves a long-term contract, especially after his postseason play, but it’s getting more and more likely that won’t happen as July 1 approaches.

“DeBrusk has become an all-purpose wing, trusted to kill penalties as well as retrieve pucks on the power play. But he has always considered himself a finisher, first and foremost. DeBrusk scored 19 regular-season goals — a respectable sum, but only fifth most on the team. Whether there’s more to come is at the center of the disagreement between DeBrusk and the Bruins over his future value,” wrote Shinzawa.

“DeBrusk has always wanted to stay. The Bruins feel the same way. They need a goal-scoring presence on the wing to support David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand.”

If DeBrusk does end up leaving — along with a few of Boston’s other UFAs — it would open the door for Sweeney to be able to spend some money in free agency. But there are a ton of question marks heading into a long offseason, and that’s especially true after back-to-back playoff exits at the hands of the Panthers.

It’ll be intriguing to see if DeBrusk will get a new contract in Boston, and how many other current players will remain in Massachusetts next season.

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