The Boston Bruins were not expected to come close to repeating the regular-season success they had in the 2022-23 season when they set the NHL record for points and victories. They had lost Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to retirement, and many league observers expected them to either miss the playoffs or sneak in as a Wild Card team.

Instead, the team rallied for another strong regular season. They battled the Florida Panthers, New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes for Eastern Conference superiority and ended up second in the Atlantic Division behind the Panthers.

They pulled out a dramatic first-round series victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs when David Pastrnak scored in overtime of the seventh game. However, their season came to an end when they were beaten in six games by the Florida Panthers, the same team that eliminated them in a seven-game upset the previous year.

The Bruins did a lot of good things in 2023-24 and the future looks fairly promising. However, while they should be competitive in 2024-25, general manager Don Sweeney will have to make several key moves in the offseason if the Bruins are going to be legitimate contenders for the Stanley Cup.

Bruins must re-sign restricted free agent goalie Jeremy Swayman

There were several disappointing areas for the Bruins throughout the two rounds of the postseason. They didn't control play very often or put enough pressure on their opponents with possession and time in the offensive zone.

They did not score enough goals and their power play fell by the wayside after a hot start in the first four games against Toronto. The Bruins also lost races to the puck and battles along the boards with frequency, and that put them in a position where they were fighting an uphill battle against a better opponent in Florida.

One area that did not disappoint was the lay of goaltender Jeremy Swayman. He was locked in throughout the playoffs and he kept the Bruins in multiple games when they were being outshot and outskated.

His numbers were excellent during his playoff run. Swayman saved 348 shots of the 373 shots he faced, for a league-best .933 save percentage. He had a 2.15 goals against and a 6-6 won-lost record. That performance came on the heels of a strong regular season that included a 25-10-8 record to go with a 2.53 GAA and a .916 save percentage.

But it was far more than the numbers. He was calm, poised and confident throughout the playoffs and he also showed maximum support for his teammates. He should be the Bruins No. 1 goalie for years to come.

Sweeney has to be decisive

Sweeney must lock up Swayman for the foreseeable future. Swayman has told all who would listen how much he appreciates the organization and his teammates, and it seems possible that Swayman will accept the “Bruins discount” that so many stars have taken throughout the years. Those players include Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy.

Swayman has had a great partnership with Linus Ullmark for the past two seasons, but it seems like having two great goalies may be a luxury the Bruins can no longer afford. The ideal scenario would involve getting Swayman signed to a long-term deal and potentially trading Ullmark for a productive player or a high draft pick.

Bruins must bring a highly skilled center

Boston was able to survive during the season with Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha as their top two centers following the dual retirements of Bergeron and Krejci. Both exceeded expectations during the regular season but neither played their best hockey during the playoffs.

The Bruins would be wise to delve into the free agent market for  a top-tier center. Two of the top names at the position are older players in Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Joe Pavelski of the Dallas Stars. Stamkos seems more likely to remain with the Lightning and Pavelski may have too much wear and tear at this point.

However, 29-year-old Sean Monahan of the Winnipeg Jets may be a perfect fit. Monahan scored 26 goals and added 33 assists last season and appears qualified to jump in for the Bruins.

Bruins need a winger who can put the puck in the net

The inability to score big goals in the playoffs was probably the biggest reason the Panthers were able to eliminate the Bruins in the second round.

Of course they have Pastrnak and Marchand, but Jake DeBrusk is too inconsistent at this point. They have other wingers in Trent Frederic, James van Riemsdyk and Danton Heinen who serve a purpose, but they are not top goal scorers.

As a result, the Bruins should be interested in signing key free agents like Sam Reinhart, Jake Guentzel, Tyler Toffoli or Jonathan Marchessault. If none of those players can be convinced to sign with the Bruins, trading for a star like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers may be the move to make.