After a season where you win your division, and make it to the second round of the playoffs to fill out your roster when you return a high percentage of your players. Unfortunately, nothing is ever easy for the Boston Bruins. They lost their top right win, have failed to secure their second line right wing, allowed their fourth line right wing to walk, and the third line was a work in progress all season.
4: Are Torey Krug and Riley Smith going to be signed?
The status of either of these players is important, together it is critical to resolve which of them is coming back. Krug was crucial to the powerplay, and is hands down the fastest skater on the Bruins blueline. He played more games than any other defenseman last year, and to top it off he lead the entire team in playoff scoring.
Seth Griffith right and Alex Fallstrom left.
Riley Smith returning would at least tell us what is going to happen with the Bergeron line. It is highly unlikely anyone will displace Marchand on his left, but Smith made a more than effective right wing for Bergeron. Despite a late season slump he turned it around in the playoffs and had as many goals as Eriksson, Soderberg, and Fraser combined. Also infinitely more goals than the center the brass just signed to a contract north of seven million dollars a year.
3: Are you going to be a top six/bottom six team or a top nine/bottom three team?
NHL15 Cover boy, Patrice Bergeron lets one rip while warming up before practice.
If your game plan is to move Soderberg and Eriksson off the third line and up to the Bergeron and Krejci’s right wings, you are making a different statement about your team (and feeder system) than if you go with a configuration that leaves one or both on the third line.
The first likely means the team will be weighting minutes heavily towards the first two lines and that the third line will be largely a checking line, and the fourth line penalty killers, and an energy line.
2: How healthy is Greg Campbell?
It may seem absurd to base roster formulation on the the health of thirty year old fourth line center, but given how much the coach leans towards veterans over younger players, it does matter. Add to that Campbell’s leadership and penalty kill prowess and you’ve got an interesting problem.
If Campbell is out, you can either “demote” Chris Kelly to the fourth line and slide Ryan Spooner, Alexander Khokhlachev, or possibly Soderberg into the third line center position. Khokhlachev plays both center and left wing, making him a possibility for either position on that line, dependent on the rest of its components.
Going the other way you have the option of bringing up Rob Flick or Bobby Robbins to hold down the fourth line center spot.
1: Seniority or system product?
Simon Gagne in Boston Bruins cam on a professional tryout (PTO) is stretching and watching other players warm up before practice.
While Gagne and Lieno have shown little to nothing to me, as every Boston Bruins observer knows Claude Juline loves his veterans. Gagne has been about average in most drills and has a good release, he’s clearly still, when healthy, a NHL player. Leino hasn’t fallen down too much and managed to survive a hit from Matt “The Mauler” Bartkowski without shattering like angel hair. When you add in their injury history which is long and distinguished, you have to wonder how much value they add. Furthermore, with the likelihood of them getting another injury this season you have to factor in cap space for whoever replaces them on the ice.
On the other hand you have a variety of young guns looking for a place to let off a few rounds. Seth Griffith has looked like a natural fit for Bergeron’s line. Assuming Eriksson goes to the Krejci, that leaves Soderberg and Kelly for the third line. If you put Kelly at left wing, and Soderberg at center, which is where he looked best last year, you have can almost take your pick of right wings.
Jared Knight has the best shot, had a strong reputation as a penalty killer and hard worker in for the London Knights. Matt Fraser got his cup of coffee with the Bruins last year and made it into four playoff games potting a goal and an assist. Brian Ferlin is a big body that can skate and check. Seth Griffith has a great combination of skating, hands and reading the ice. Depending on what configuration you’re looking for