Thus far, we’ve looked at the likely top two teams in the Atlantic Division, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. In part 3 of our season preview, we take a look at the Boston Bruins. Last season, the Bruins made it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Bruins are once again a team destined for success. They boast much of the same roster as last season, and while they lack depth at some positions, they are likely a Stanley Cup contender once again. I have them ranked third in their division, but they could easily move ahead of the Leafs as well, just like they did last season. Let’s take a look at the depth chart of the Bruins heading into this season.
- Tuukka Rask
- Jaraslav Halak
- Kole Keyser
- Daniel Vladar
- Max Lagace
Rask was a revelation in the playoffs last season. The Bruins decided that he needed more of a rest during the regular season and went out and signed Jaraslav Halak – and the experiment was a smashing success. Rask looked like his old self in the playoffs and could have easily been the Conn Smythe winner as league MVP. Look for Halak and Rask to split duty once again, with Rask getting close to 50 starts and Halak the rest. Depth wise, however, the Bruins are really lacking outside their top two.
Kole Keyser tore up the OHL last season, and he looks like a legitmate prospect. That being said, he is going to need some AHL seasoning, even though he may be the most talented and most likely to get a call-up of candidates. Lagace, the lone AHL veteran, had his best statistical year in the AHL last year, but he is far from a viable backup option at the NHL level if there is an injury. If one of Rask or Halak gets injured, the Bruins may have to look to the waiver wire or a trade to fill out the position.
- Torey Krug
- Charlie McAvoy
- Brandon Carlo
- Zdeno Chara
- Matt Grzelcyk
- Connor Clifton
- John Moore
- Steve Kampfer
- Kevin Miller
- Urho Vaakanainen
- Jeremy Lauzon
- Jakob Zboril
The Bruins have a deep defensive core, one that withstood injuries in the playoffs and looks to do so once again this season. Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy (when he resigns), and Zdeno Chara round out a solid top four. Krug and McAvoy lead this group offensively, and Carlo and Chara defensively. If Carlo can stay healthy, look for him to continue to develop as a solid two-way defender. If there is injury or if the 42 year-old Chara needs a break, look for Matt Grzelcyk to see increased minutes. Though small in stature, he is a solid puck mover who can run the power play. He also didn’t look out of place at various times last seasons in the top four.
There will be steep competition next season for spots 6-8, with Connor Clifton, John Moore, Steve Kampfer, Kevin Miller, and Vaakanainen all getting a long look. Moore has the biggest contract, and the Bruins would like to see him return to the form he showed in New Jersey before he was signed. Bruce Cassidely likes Steve Kampfer, and he may easily sneak into that role. Clifton played consistently throughout the playoffs and could easily see playing time as well.
Kevin Miller used to be a Bruins staple, but after an injury riddled season, he may find himself on the waiver wire if he doesn’t impress at camp. Vaakanainen is a prospect the Bruins are very high on, but he doesn’t need waivers to be sent to the minors. Unless he has an unbelievable camp, expect him to start the season in the AHL. Regardless of who cracks the top 8, the Bruins are stacked with depth at the defensive position.
|1. Brad Marchand||1. Patrice Bergeron||1. David Pastrnak|
|2. Jake DeBrusk||2. David Krejci||2. Dante Heinen|
|3. Joakim Nordstrom||3. Charlie Coyle||3. Brett Ritchie|
|4. Par Lindholm||4. Sean Kuraly||4. Chis Wagner|
|5. Anders Bjork||5. David Backes||5. Karson Kuhlman|
|6. Brendan Gaunce||6. Trent Frederic||
6. Petr Cehlarik
|7. Anders Blidh||7. Jacob Studnicka||
7. Ryan Fitzgerald
The Bruins head into the the 2019 season with one of the best lines in the NHL. The Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line has been virtually unstoppable the last few seasons. Barring a long-term injury to Bergeron (he’s always due for one at least significant one a year unfortunately), look for this line to produce at their normal high end pace. David Krejci returned to form last year, and the Bruins hope he can hover around the 60 point mark once again. Jake DeBrusk had over 20 goals last season and could easily crack 30 this season. Charlie Coyle will play his first full season as a Bruin and will likely slot in as the third line center. Coyle has been widely inconsistent offensively in his career, but the Bruins are hoping he can put up 20 goals and 40 points at minimum in this role.
The Bruins’ biggest hole on their roster is winger depth. Nordstrom, Lindholm, Ritchie, Wagner, Heinen, Bjork, and Kuhlman will all compete for a bottom six role, with one of them likely having to be a second line winger. Heinen has the best chance of sticking in this role. Brett Ritchie has shown flashes of brilliance over the years but really struggled last season, and his foot speed has been a major issue at the NHL level. Nordstrom, Lindholm, Wanger, and Bjork are all fourth line type players, but may find themselves playing up until around the trade deadline.
This is an area the Bruins are likely looking to fill when the salary cap won’t be so much of an issue. Even so, the Bruins shouldn’t have a difficult time scoring or shutting teams down defensively. Look for them to be dominant once again up front this season.
The Bruins are built for playoff success once again. They have very few holes in their roster. Similar to other teams in the division, the Bruins are in Stanley Cup or bust mode. Once again, they will battle for a division title and could win it all this season. Anything but another deep playoff run will be a disappointment for a team that will likely have captain Zdeno Chara on it for the last time.