Betting lines for the 2021 Stanley Cup title already are out, and the Boston Bruins again rank among the top contenders.
Here are the latest odds for next year's Stanley Cup (Odds provided by our partner, PointsBet).
1. Colorado Avalanche: +800
2. Tampa Bay Lightning: +850
3. Vegas Golden Knights: +900
4. Boston Bruins: +1200
5. Philadelphia Flyers: +1500
6. Washington Capitals: +1500
7. Pittsburgh Penguins: +1700
8. St. Louis Blues: +1700
9. Dallas Stars: +1800
10. Edmonton Oilers: +2000
11. Toronto Maple Leafs: +2000
All other teams have +2200 odds or worse
It's a little surprising the Bruins are so high due to the uncertainty surrounding their roster entering a pivotal offseason for the franchise.
Is pursuing Taylor Hall in free agency a smart path for B's?
Boston's second-best defenseman, Torey Krug, is able to become an unrestricted free agent when the market opens in October. The B's reportedly have offered him a six-year contract worth $39 million, and based on recent deals given to comparable defensemen, it wouldn't be surprising if Krug got a better deal in free agency.
The Bruins also must consider re-signing second-line left winger Jake DeBrusk, who has averaged 20 goals per season in three years with Boston but is frustratingly inconsistent. Other notable Bruins free agents include defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara, fellow blueliner Matt Grzelcyk and fourth-line forward Joakim Nordstrom.
Even if the Bruins are unable to bring back some of these free agents, the team's roster is still talented and deep enough to be one of the best teams in the 2020-21 regular season.
The issue in the playoffs, without meaningful roster upgrades, would again be secondary scoring. It's been a problem for this team in its last three postseason exits. The top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak scores at a high rate, but the rest of the forward group doesn't provide consistent offensive production in the playoffs.
Another roadblock for the Bruins on their path to the Stanley Cup Final is the Lightning. Tampa Bay has eliminated Boston from the playoffs in the second round in two of the last three years, and the Lightning are going to be a juggernaut again in 2021 barring any significant injuries.
So, while the Bruins should still be a top contender in the Eastern Conference next season, it's hard to envision this team winning the Stanley Cup without adding a proven top-six forward and finding an adequate replacement for Krug if he departs in free agency.