Entering the 2016 offseason, the focus for the Boston Bruins after missing the playoffs for the second straight season was to improve the defense in front of goaltender Tuuka Rask. So far this offseason, not much has gone right for the black and gold with the exception of free agent signing David Backes, formerly of the St. Louis Blues. However, there is one player on the Bruins roster whose contract issue that has yet to have been resolved that needs urgent attention.
Brad Marchand has yet to have signed a contract extension.
The issue that is most glaring with this situation is that the Bruins brass has not made a major push to resign Marchand to a long term contract. During a period over the last two season where nothing much has gone right for the Bruins on or off the ice, they need to start righting the ship especially since coming away empty-handed in the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes. The Bruins need to ensure that one of their home grown talented players does not test free agency during Summer 2017.
Why is it so important for the Bruins to sign Marchand now before training camp?
One of the major reasons why it is imperative to get a deal done before Marchand plays in the World Cup of Hockey for Team Canada in September is because simply put. The Bruins do not need this story to become a major headline hovering around the team once the season begins on October 13th.
The Bruins have enough on-ice player personnel issues to deal with heading into training camp in about month which includes but not limited to the lack of improvements made to the defenseman core which currently includes Captain Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Torey Krug, John-Michael Liles to name a few. To have Marchand’s contract being asked constantly on a night basis can and will become a distraction whether his teammates will admit it or not.
Marchand’s importance to the team offensively has grown even more after the career season he had in 2015-2016. Marchand scored 37 goals, had 24 assists, and 61 total points to become a formidable offensive threat on a line he has played on and with Patrice Bergeron since his arrival to the NHL in 2009-2010. Marchand has scored at least 20 goals in every full season he has played in since 2010-2011 (the year the Bruins won the Stanley Cup) except for the strike-shortened 2012-2013 season when Marchand score 18 goals in 45 games played.
One of the things that Marchand brings to the Bruins year and year out is his tenacity, grit, and shot blocking ability (not to mention getting under his opponents skin). Marchand has demonstrated his ability to become one of the leaders on the Bruins, and his leadership role has become increasingly important to the tutelage of the up-and-coming players for the Bruins. Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and Bruins President Cam Neely must work quickly and efficiently to sign a player like Marchand, who is in the prime of his career and with his offensive game growing rapidly.
The Bruins cannot afford to allow Marchand to walk and test free agency next summer, especially given with his on-ice chemistry with Bergeron and what he and Bergeron mean to the Bruins offensively (a la Game 7 2011 Stanley Cup Finals vs. Vancouver Canucks).
Boston must move fast to re-sign Marchand. Otherwise, this could be potentially the worst loss the Bruins will endure for a long time to come.