When it comes to pipe-dream scenarios this summer for the Boston Bruins, most fans have envisioned the addition of a dynamic top-six winger to a crop of skaters that came up just short of a Stanley Cup title.
It’s an offseason objective not just reserved for discussion on message boards or rush-hour sports radio, though. While addressing the media back on June 18, Bruins president Cam Neely admitted that the search for a dynamic wing has been “talked about at length” — and for good reason, with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk skating on 10 different line combinations that logged at least 10 minutes of 5v5 TOI together during the 2018-19 season.
The thought of bringing aboard the likes of someone like Chris Kreider is far more flashier than, say, re-upping Marcus Johansson to a new deal, but the domino effect created by the latter’s departure could have a much more lasting impact on the 2019-20 Bruins.
Once tabbed as a simple rental that generally underwhelmed during a regular-season stint marred by a lung contusion, Johansson was a man without a line at the outset of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, having tallied just one goal and three points over 10 games with the B’s.
But during Boston’s run to the Cup Final, Johansson became a revelation when teamed up with Charlie Coyle on what was once a black hole of a third line — with the winger tallying 11 points over 22 playoff contests.
During 213:18 of 5v5 TOI in which Coyle and Johansson were out on the ice at the same time during the playoffs, Boston lit the lamp 10 times while generating 32 high-danger scoring chances — giving the Bruins a major mismatch against opposing club’s bottom-six groups.
Given Johansson’s extended stretch of excellence this spring and unique skill set (a playmaking, speedy winger who excels at generating zone entries and serving as a net-front option on the power play), it came as no surprise that the UFA drew plenty of interest in the days leading up to free agency, with over 10 clubs checking in with the 28-year-old forward.
And, to the chagrin of many, Boston apparently wasn’t one of said suitors.