While the Bruins season is off to about as good of a start as we could have hoped, it is worth taking a quick look ahead to this off-season when a number of key members of the current squad are set to become free agents.
The big names on this list are Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, Anthon Khudobin, Lane MacDermid, and Tuuka Rask. All are important pieces of the current team, and Peter Chiarelli will certainly have his hands full with tough decisions once the Bruins season comes to an end (hopefully with another cup).
I think the one "untouchable" here is Rask. Both Chiarelli and Cam Neely have made it explicitly clear over the past few years that Rask is the future of the franchise in net, and while he has had a few shaky performances, he appears to be capable of that task, so long as he can stay healthy. Furthermore, his back-up Khudobin has been solid so far, which was a big question mark coming into the year. If I had to make a prediction now, I would say the youthful Rask/Khudobin combo will be here to stay, barring injuries or extremely poor play the remainder of the year.
I would say of the three other remaining players mentioned, there are no guarantees, and their off-season fates will be dependent upon their play the remainder of the year. Ference, who has been a lynchpin of the Boston defensive unit for the past few years, has made some noticeably poor, uncharacteristic decisions as of late that have hurt the team. Horton has played well coming off his concussion issues, and is proving to be an offensive force on the team, currently tied for second place on the team in goals at four. Lane MacDermind has been a pleasant surprise this year, and has stepped up as an enforcer and physical presence. At 23 years old, I anticipate he will be a player the organization will look to continue to develop.
Will Lane MacDermid be back next season?
The Bruins freed up some good cap space when they got rid of Timmy, but it is highly unlikely all five of these players will be on the team next year. Of the group I have discussed here, who do you think is the least likely to return next year? Vote in the poll below.