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matt porter

What is the state of the Bruins roster? Here’s a player-by-player outlook

The Bruins made it to the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated by Tampa Bay.
The Bruins made it to the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated by Tampa Bay.Elsa/Getty

It’s unclear whether the Bruins are done adding. As of Wednesday, several productive forwards and a few veteran defensemen were left on the NHL free agent market. But the solutions to the Bruins' primary issues — left-side defense and secondary scoring — may lie within the organization.

If we consider Oct. 9 the new July 1, we’re about two weeks into the offseason. While we wait for general manager Don Sweeney to sign Jake DeBrusk and perhaps another player (Zdeno Chara?) with about $6.6 million he has in salary-cap space, let’s assess where the players under contract are, and where they’re headed.

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Projections are based on an 82-game season, and the reasonably good health of players, neither of which is a guarantee.

(Sorted by cap hit; financials from CapFriendly, stats from Hockey-Reference, Natural Stat Trick, NHL.com, EliteProspects.)

DAVID KREJCI

Expected role: No. 2 center

Cap hit: $7.25 million

In brief: After the restart, Playoff Krech (4-8—12 in 13 games) rode again . . . Skilled, poised, but pricey for a No. 2 pivot; only John Tavares ($11m), Evgeni Malkin ($9.5m), Nicklas Backstrom ($9.2m), Leon Draisaitl ($8.5m), Matt Duchene ($8m), Kevin Hayes ($7.14m), and Joe Pavelski ($7m) are in his range . . . Entering final year of his deal . . . Turns 35 in April.

Best case: Both sides feel good about a shorter-term deal.

Worst case: His game slows to the point that Jack Studnicka gets the call early.

TUUKKA RASK

Expected role: No. 1 goalie

Cap hit: $7 million

In brief: Vezina finalist at age 33 . . . Still elite . . . On an expiring deal . . . Left team during first round because of what Bruins president Cam Neely said was a family emergency.

Best case: In the running for another Vezina.

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Worst case: Can’t find his game; Boston career ends quietly.

PATRICE BERGERON

Expected role: No. 1 center

Cap hit: $6.87 million

In brief: Still a presence at 35 . . . Glue for No. 1 line, slot on power play, key penalty-killer . . . 31 goals and 56 points in 61 games . . . Used mostly in an offensive role . . . Two years left on team-friendly deal.

Best case: Provides 18-20 minutes of Bergy magic.

Worst case: Groin injuries rob him of skating pop.

DAVID PASTRNAK

Expected role: No. 1 right wing

Cap hit: $6.67 million

In brief: Among the best bargains in the game . . . Rocket Richard Trophy co-winner (48 goals) and third-leading scorer in the league (95 points) . . . Point-a-game guy in the playoffs while playing with significant hip injury . . . Out until mid-February.

Best case: Looks like the old Pasta.

Worst case: Recovery takes longer than expected, doesn’t have top gear.

David Pastrnak had offseason surgery and won't start the 2020-21 campaign on time.
David Pastrnak had offseason surgery and won't start the 2020-21 campaign on time.Elsa/Getty

BRAD MARCHAND

Expected role: No. 1 left wing

Cap hit: $6.12 million

In brief: Another spectacular season (59 assists, 87 points in 70 games) . . . Can do just about anything out there: scoring, playmaking, checking, penalty-killing . . . Emotional tone-setter . . . Out until mid-January (sports hernia).

Best case: Production remains so high that secondary scoring doesn’t much matter.

Worst case: Starts to show wear at age 32, misses his pal Torey Krug.

CHARLIE COYLE

Expected role: No. 3 center

Cap hit: $5.25 million

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In brief: Puck-possession center with blue-ox strength . . . Good wheels for man of his size (6-3, 220) . . . Could shoot more . . . Paid like someone expected to drive a line.

Best case: Looks ready to bat higher in the order.

Worst case: Struggles to find chemistry with a rotating cast of wingers.

CHARLIE McAVOY

Expected role: No. 1 defenseman

Cap hit: $4.9 million

In brief: Enjoy that cap hit while it lasts . . . Working at a cut rate for the next two seasons . . . Borderline Norris Trophy candidate at 22 . . . Elite defense with more offense anticipated.

Best case: Breezily adjusts to No. 1 role, earns first All-Star nod.

Worst case: Shows discomfort with spotlight, game dips.

JAKE DeBRUSK

Expected role: No. 2 left wing

Cap hit: TBD

In brief: Speed, grit, and scoring touch when he’s on . . . Bruins see 35-40 goals as a possibility . . . Can disappear for stretches.

Best case: Brings it nightly, starts to look like a Marchand replacement.

Worst case: Frustrated with lack of scoring, keeps hearing name in trade rumors.

MATT GRZELCYK

Expected role: Top-four defenseman

Cap hit: $3.68 million

In brief: Underlying numbers look great . . . Will get all he can handle, particularly if Chara’s gone . . . Admits he feels pressure of new four-year deal.

Best case: A top-pair guy who just needed a chance. Does just fine replacing Krug on power-play point.

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Worst case: Can’t hang at McAvoy’s level, doesn’t click with Brandon Carlo.

CRAIG SMITH

Expected role: No. 3 right wing

Cap hit: $3.1 million

In brief: Automatic 20-goal man for Nashville . . . Good value for one of the league’s better third-liners . . . Loves to shoot.

Best case: Krejci’s new right-hand man.

Worst case: Career-long Predator struggles to adjust to new surroundings.

Craig Smith signed a three-year deal with the Bruins this month.
Craig Smith signed a three-year deal with the Bruins this month.Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

BRANDON CARLO

Expected role: Top-four defenseman

Cap hit: $2.85 million

In brief: Among the league’s better defensive defensemen . . . Turns 24 next month . . . Entering last year of bridge deal . . . Excellent PKer … Size and skating and nascent offense.

Best case: Shines in shutdown role regardless of Chara’s status.

Worst case: Attacking game stagnates without Krug, becomes one-dimensional.

JOHN MOORE

Expected role: No. 6-8 defenseman

Cap hit: $2.75 million

In brief: Expensive insurance policy since signing in July 2018 . . . Could get a legit shot with Chara and Krug gone . . . Good pro.

Best case: Solid play helps Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril arrive slowly.

Worst case: Spends a lot of the year in the press box.

ONDREJ KASE

Expected role: No. 2-3 right wing

Cap hit: $2.6 million

In brief: Has struggled to stay healthy since 20-goal breakout three years ago . . . Soon to turn 25 . . . Fast and fearless, but production (18 goals in last 85 games) hasn’t been there . . . RFA next year.

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Best case: Meshes with Krejci, tops 30 goals.

Worst case: Healthy, but never finds a fit.

JAROSLAV HALAK

Expected role: No. 2 goalie

Cap hit: $2.25 million

In brief: In slight decline, but still a quality 1A at a great price . . . Age (35) a concern . . . Not likely capable of long stretches as starter at this stage.

Best case: Another season of .920 goaltending as a backup.

Worst case: Bruins call down to the farm.

Jaroslav Halak (above) assumed the No. 1 goaltending duties when Tuukka Rask left the team during the playoffs.
Jaroslav Halak (above) assumed the No. 1 goaltending duties when Tuukka Rask left the team during the playoffs.Elsa/Getty

ANDERS BJORK

Expected role: No. 3 left wing/right wing

Cap hit: $1.6 million

In brief: Similar to Kase, with a bit less playmaking ability . . . Premium speed, subpar production; 19 points in 58 games, next to nothing in the postseason (0-1—1 in 10 games).

Best case: Finds scoring touch and gets a ride in the top six.

Worst case: Starts to believe his ceiling is on the third line, wants a fresh start.

NICK RITCHIE

Expected role: No. 3 or No. 4 left wing

Cap hit: $1.5 million

In brief: Big-bodied winger with some hidden offensive skill . . . Another step or a little more touch and he’d be a useful middle-six guy . . . Like Kase, arbitration-eligible RFA in ’21.

Best case: A poor man’s Tom Wilson.

Worst case: A poor man’s Brett Ritchie.

CHRIS WAGNER

Expected role: No. 4 right wing

Cap hit: $1.35 million

In brief: A bit expensive in this new economy . . . When healthy, a buzzsaw forechecker and shift disturber . . . Injuries are a concern as he approaches 30 (next May) . . . Three years left on deal.

Best case: Helps fourth line recapture 2019 game.

Worst case: Last year was start of decline.

SEAN KURALY

Expected role: No. 4 center

Cap hit: $1.27 million

In brief: Reasonably productive (6-17—23) in a down year for fourth line . . . Size (6-2, 213) and speed make him a forecheck weapon . . . Capable of playing wing . . . Would be a third-liner on many teams.

Best case: Plays well enough to let Trent Frederic break in as 4C.

Worst case: Emergency call to Frederic.

KEVAN MILLER

Expected role: No. 6 defenseman

Cap hit: $1.25 million (plus potential bonuses)

In brief: Career sidelined by knee injuries since April 2019 . . . Prove-it deal could be worth $2 million if he’s a playoff contributor.

Best case: Miller of old (big, mean, nasty, great PKer)

Worst case: Ends career on injured reserve.

Kevan Miller hasn't been in the lineup since April 4, 2019.
Kevan Miller hasn't been in the lineup since April 4, 2019.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

CONNOR CLIFTON

Expected role: No. 6-7 defenseman

Cap hit: $1 million

In brief: Took step back because of injuries (31 games played) . . . Signed for three more years.

Best case: Holds down right-side job on third pair, starts to earn offensive confidence.

Worst case: Passed by others, waived.

PAR LINDHOLM

Expected role: 13th forward

Cap hit: $850,000

In brief: Versatile, left-shot PKer . . . Skates well, makes a few plays … PPG player in Sweden, but offense lost in translation.

Best case: Chips in when asked.

Worst case: Passed by others, waived.

JEREMY LAUZON

Expected role: No. 5-6 defenseman

Cap hit: $850,000

In brief: Still 23 with room to grow . . . Plays a physical brand . . . Comfortable playing off side If needed . . . Had a few reps last year (19 games).

Best case: Forms a burgeoning shutdown pair with Carlo.

Worst case: Sophomore slump, becomes spare part.

Others competing for time: C/RW Jack Studnicka, C/LW Trent Frederic, D Steven Kampfer, D Jakub Zboril, D Urho Vaakanainen, RW Karson Kuhlman, RW Zach Senyshyn, C Greg McKegg, LW Anton Blidh, G Dan Vladar.


Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.