It appears the Boston Bruins' top-line center has decided to return for at least one more season.
Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron "has decided to return likely on a one-year deal" with the Black and Gold, according to Joe McDonald of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
This is huge news for the Bruins and their fanbase as Bergeron just finished up an eight-year, $55 million contract.
After the Bruins fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in May, Bergeron told reporters it was "too early" for him to make a decision on his future, opting to not rule out retirement at 36 years old.
Had Bergeron entered retirement, the Bruins would have been in trouble entering the 2022-23 season as the organization is not prepared to replace its franchise center. Boston doesn't have a single center on its roster that could step into a first-line role nor does the franchise have a prospect capable of entering the top six.
In addition, the Bruins have just $2.4 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly, and that wouldn't have been enough to sign one of the top available centers on the market, such as Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux or Filip Forsberg.
Bergeron's return is also a good sign for the Bruins as the team will need him if it hopes to tread water in the standings to start the 2022-23 campaign. Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Mike Reilly and Brad Marchand are expected to miss the beginning of the season after undergoing offseason surgery.
Bergeron has been a staple in the Bruins' lineup since being selected in the second round of the 2003 draft. He made his NHL debut during the 2003-04 season and has emerged as one of the best two-way forwards in the league.
The Quebec native helped Boston win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and has also won a record five Selke Trophies as the NHL's best defender, with his most recent award coming this year.
Over his 18-year career, Bergeron has tallied 400 goals and 582 assists in 1,216 regular-season games in addition to 47 goals and 76 assists in 167 playoff games.
He has shown no signs of slowing down, either, notching 25 goals and 40 assists for 65 points in 73 games during the 2021-22 season in addition to three goals and four assists in seven postseason games.
With Bergeron likely set to return, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney can shift his focus to working on a long-term contract extension for star winger David Pastrnak. In addition, Boston is still searching for a head coach to replace Bruce Cassidy, who was unexpectedly fired earlier this month.