Projecting Lines: Boston Bruins
As the season gets closer there are a few question marks surrounding the Bruins projected lineup. For the current outlook let’s assume that there’s no roster movement between now and opening day. There’s a few things that could cause a wrinkle in the opening day lineup, one of which is Pastrnaks on-going contract negotiations (hopefully a done deal shortly after he gets back from China) and the talent in Providence ready to burst on the scene.
Here's a look at two potential starting lineups;
Forwards L, C, R
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak
Matt Belesky, David Krejci, Anders Bjork
Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner, David Backes
Tim Schaller, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork, David Krejci, David Backes
Kenny Agostino, Ryan Spooner, Riley Nash
Matt Belesky, Noel Acciari, Frank Vatrano
The first line here is no real surprise as Marchand & Bergeron are the Bruins dynamic duo and really do well regardless of who their right winger is. However last season showed that with Pastrnak on the wing they were probably one of the better trios in the NHL. The second line could potentially see the return of Matt Belesky who struggled a lot last season as he was trying to rebound from injury and surgery. The Bruins coaching staff and management group need to know if at 3.8M he can produce productively in the top six. With so much young potential chomping at the bit to crack the roster Belesky I’m sure will be on thin ice. The only saving grace for Belesky is that Krecjci is better when his wingers are consistent (think back to Lucic/Krejci/Horton days) so that should give Belesky a good time period to see if he can hang otherwise he’ll be relegated to 4th line or the 9th floor. The new addition here is Anders Bjork who played right wing his last two years in college but when rumours were swirling at the end of last season about him joining the club near seasons end he was being penciled in on Krejci’s left wing. Obviously he’ll need a great training camp if he plans on playing for the big club but could see himself getting some reps in Providence at the beginning of the season to get acclimated to the jump from college hockey to professional hockey. Spooner got himself a one year deal to stay in Boston, honestly I like the kid but I am personally starting to wonder where he’s going to fit in. only time will tell if can improve some elements of his game or if he’s going to be earmarked for a trade. The other two guys of note here are Frank Vatrano and Kenny Agostino, Vatrano needs to show some consistency if he plans on staying in the spoked B after this season. Lots of fans jumped on the Vatrano wagon after seeing some of his AHL numbers but they have yet to translate to the NHL level. A guy like Agostino could be in the same boat, signed a 1 year show and prove type deal. Sweeney feels like he deserves a chance to show what he can do at the NHL level so I would he’ll be in the mix at the start of the season and will have to play to keep his spot or alternatively play himself out of a spot.
With only 12 spots available and a large number of potential candidates to snag some spots it’ll certainly be a year the competition is fierce at training camp. Some unmentioned players who could make some noise to“steal” a spot anywhere on the main roster this year would be Austin Czarnik, Jake DeBrusk, Peter Ceharlik, Sean Kuraly, Anton Blidh, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and possibly Zach Senyshyn.
Defence: LD, RD
Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug, Adam Mcquaid
Kevan Miller, Charlie McAvoy
A little more straight forward here. if we don’t see a trade where Adam Mcquaid is moved then it would appear the defence is almost set. Sweeney brought in Postma for peanuts to essentially be the 7th Dman. You don’t mess with things that work so Krug/Mcquaid who have played a fair amount together and complement each other quite well should probably stay together. The shutdown pairing of Chara and Carlo will in all likely stay together, the only hiccup here is if Carlo stutters a bit McAvoy will be right there to take that top spot. The “3rd” pairing is deployable in almost any situation so the ice time can be more evenly split amongst all pairings but look for the Chara/McAvoy pairing to pop up during games as there’s no better teacher than Big Z.
Anton Khudobin/Zane McIntyre/Malcolm Subban
The uncontested starter Rask has nothing to worry about here as none of the other guys can challenge him for the top spot. There’s a lot of Rask haters out there but realistically within the organization who’s better than him? No one that’s correct, so it becomes a battle for the backup job and last season I think there were a lot of fans who thought and still do think that Khudobin is not the guy. When they brought him in last season it was a familiar face with decent numbers, but wow did he fall off a cliff at the start of the season. It wasn’t until the end stretch of the season where he showed he can win a few games. Subban I think still needs to refine his game and could be should be called up once in a while for a taste when the B’s are playing a low level opponent like the Avalanche for example. Zane is in a spot where he is playing well in the AHL but hasn’t gotten a ton of chances to show if he’s ready to roll with the big club. He’s probably the next in line to bump Khudobin for the backup role and knowing that the early season points are valuable down the stretch we could see Dobby bounced out of there pretty quickly.
All in all the Bruins not having made any major moves this offseason should remain competitive in the Atlantic division. Bruins fans will need to keep their eyes peeled for the Pastrnak signing before training camp. And our ears to the ground for any trade rumblings to shake things up if they get off to a rocky start.
Thanks for reading,