The official drop of the puck may be more than three months away but that doesn’t stop hardcore Bruins followers from contemplating a range of issues involving their troubled team.

Fans can speculate on draft picks and free agents and trade targets and possible rookie surprises. They can ponder line combinations and defense pairs, worry about how much Zdeno Chara has left, contemplate alterations in the game plan, and grow anxious over the improvements made by rivals.

All worthy pastimes, although a cold cocktail on a hot beach, surrounded by lovely sights and sounds, seems a somewhat more sensible way to spend a summer day.

But OK, if you want to talk Bruins … What the Bruins have done in recent weeks, basically, is hover in place. They’ve gone neither up nor down.

They lost key right winger Loui Eriksson, who made the smart business move to Vancouver. They replaced him with another right winger (or center) in David Backes. They likely lose some scoring and gain some grit. Both guys are known as strong and responsible defensive forwards. So all and all, it’s pretty close to an even tradeoff.

Boston re-signed defenseman John-Michael Liles, a good move at a cut-rate $2 million.

 Dennis Seidenberg was bought out. As sad as it is to see him go, one of the nicest men we’ve gotten to know here, he’s clearly lost a lot, and the $2.8 million in salary-cap savings next season could be valuable.

 Riley Nash seems a decent pickup, even if only of the fourth-line variety.

You can talk about all this stuff. But there’s really only one key for the 2016-17 Bruins – Tuukka Rask. The erstwhile Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender has to play better than he did last season – maybe even the last two seasons – or it’s mighty hard to see this team as more than a mediocre also-ran. Last season his goals-against average (2.56) and save percentage (.915) were by far the worst of his five seasons as the No. 1 netminder for the Bruins.

A Bruins team that had been sound defensively began to play sloppy and porous team defense two seasons ago in front of Rask, a positionally strong goalie who craves predictability in his defense and the shots he faces. His teammates gave up way too many wide-open scoring chances.

And then what did he read and hear all last summer? The Bruins were going have a new look. They were to be all about generating more offense – quick transitions, up-tempo, fast-break hockey.

To which Rask probably thought, “How about we worry first about tightening up defensively?”

Rask had to view the first three games of last season, all home-ice losses, as a bad joke. There were plays on which a Bruins defenseman brought the puck out from behind his own net and looked for a breakout pass, and all three forwards were at the far blue line.

At times it seems Rask takes it personally when the Bruins play bad defense in front of him. Many times he cited how crucially important it is that the team, “protects the house,” which means don’t leave people open in front for easy goals.

The guess here is that Rask’s dissatisfaction with his team may have affected his attitude and his play.

Now there’s little reason to expect the Bruins to be a whole lot better defensively next season. Indeed, much talk is still about a more “up-tempo” style.

The point is, though, that Rask has to get over it if he’s upset by the decline in defensive-zone play in front of him.

“He has to step up and be a leader,” said one member of the Bruins’ brass last week. “We need him to make more saves.”

For most of the past decade, the Bruins could count on strong defense and outstanding goaltending. Now that they don’t have the same quality defense, they have to stop pucks better.

Rask has to spend these next three months preparing himself – like it or not – for that challenge.