Bruins offseason depth chart 1.0: Nearly complete save for one big ticket

BRIGHTON, Mass. — “We’re not set in October,” Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said on Monday after signing Elias Lindholm and Nikita Zadorov. “We’ll allow these guys to go through and see who can push. Then we’ll re-evaluate. If we have holes or gaps, we’ll try to address them.”

Sweeney has always been active at the trade deadline. If the Bruins are in playoff position come the 2025 auction, he will reinforce the roster.

Until then, however, Sweeney might be finished with his 2024-25 construction. In this first offseason look at the projected 2024-25 depth chart, every player is under contract for the coming season — aside from one major piece.

“We’ve been very competitive,” said Sweeney, whose clubs have qualified for the playoffs for eight straight seasons. “We haven’t had the success we expect to have in the playoffs. These types of players, I think, should help us in that regard.”

Forward depth chart

Left wing Center Right wing

Pavel Zacha

Elias Lindholm

David Pastrnak

Brad Marchand

Charlie Coyle

Morgan Geekie

Trent Frederic

Matt Poitras

Justin Brazeau

Max Jones

Johnny Beecher

Mark Kastelic

Sweeney made it clear that Lindholm will be the No. 1 center. He will play with David Pastrnak. No. 88 is a turbocharged version of Tyler Toffoli, one of Lindholm’s former right wings with the Calgary Flames. 

As for their linemate, Pavel Zacha is most likely to shift from center to left wing. This is the setup the Bruins used in 2022-23, Zacha’s first season after his arrival from the New Jersey Devils. Zacha and Pastrnak, with David Krejci working the middle, played well together as an offense-first threesome. 

Zacha scored a career-high 59 points in 2023-24. Coach Jim Montgomery moved him to left wing to conclude the playoffs.

“I think probably, in a higher-profile role,” Sweeney said of moving Zacha out of the middle. “But that doesn’t mean the deck chairs don’t move around and how Monty sees it. Because it’s a big-time luxury. That will depend on whether or not somebody can arrive, push up and assume a little more responsibility. We know Zacs can.”

Sweeney, in all likelihood, was thinking about Fabian Lysell when he referred to an arrival. Lysell, the No. 21 pick in 2021, has speed and skill in abundance. The right wing suffered a concussion and shoulder injury late in last year’s AHL season. Otherwise, Sweeney said Lysell would have earned an NHL promotion.

If Lysell can take the next step, he could be the No. 2 right wing behind Pastrnak. If not, Morgan Geekie would be among the possibilities of playing with Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle on the second line. Lysell would then start the season in Providence and push for an in-season call.

“He doesn’t necessarily need to set the world on fire,” player development coordinator Adam McQuaid said. “Just come in, be a reliable player and create opportunities when they’re there.”

On the third line, Trent Frederic and Justin Brazeau have the size and skill to be dependable bookends for Matt Poitras. The second-year center is participating in the team’s annual development camp this week at Warrior Ice Arena. Poitras said he has gained about eight or nine pounds while recovering from shoulder surgery.

One of Sweeney’s offseason priorities was to hasten the Bruins’ timeliness on the forecheck. Max Jones and Mark Kastelic should be helpful. Kastelic is also good on faceoffs. Montgomery will be happy about having Kastelic and lefty Johnny Beecher available for defensive-zone draws.

Defense depth chart

Left defense Right defense

Nikita Zadorov

Charlie McAvoy

Hampus Lindholm

Brandon Carlo

Mason Lohrei

Andrew Peeke

Parker Wotherspoon

Montgomery will have options. Zadorov can be Charlie McAvoy’s stay-at-home partner. Or he could ride with Brandon Carlo on a shutdown duo.

Regardless of what happens, signing Zadorov can do three things: return McAvoy to a high level, support Hampus Lindholm and get the ex-Duck back to his threshold and insulate Mason Lohrei. In theory, Zadorov and Lohrei should be upgrades over Matt Grzelcyk and Derek Forbort.

“Not be necessarily over his skis at times, playing 20 minutes a night on the top pair,” Sweeney said of Lohrei. “Which he can. He’s done a good job. But it just balances things out.”

Parker Wotherspoon should be a good No. 7 defenseman. 

Goalie depth chart


Jeremy Swayman (RFA)

Joonas Korpisalo

Brandon Bussi

Joonas Korpisalo is talented enough to rebuild his game under the hand of goalie coach Bob Essensa. Brandon Bussi, meanwhile, will have a chance to fight with Korpisalo in training camp for the No. 2 job.

Jeremy Swayman, of course, will be the No. 1. The question is at what price.

Swayman became a restricted free agent on Monday. He will get a raise from his previous $3.475 million average annual value, which he scored via arbitration. 

Swayman is eligible to file for arbitration again. Whether that route ultimately determines Swayman’s price is unknown. Either way, the Bruins have enough money to re-sign their ace.

“We’re going to continue to negotiate a landing spot,” Sweeney said. “The timing is what it is, however long that takes. It’s not impacted by what we did (on Monday). We’re in a great spot to find the best negotiated deal we can find for both sides.”

(Photo of Jeremy Swayman: Richard T Gagnon / Getty Images)

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