Based on only the players currently signed to the Bruins, what we know about the coaches, players, and management. Here’s a quick look at what it may look like.
- Marchand – Bergeron – Hayes
- Beleskey – Krejci – Backes
- Vatrano – Spooner – Pastrnak
- Hargrove – Acciari – Nash
Bergeron and Marchand staying together is about as close to a sure thing as you’re going to get in Boston right now. For balance, something Julien is in love with, that’s why Hayes and Beleskey both start out in the top six. I can’t see Julien loving the idea of the current third line, but unless he’s going to flip Backes and Pastrnak for more defensive responsibility on the third line, and more speed on the first, it could well happen. The fourth line is going to come down to who has the best camp and what the biggest needs are.
Currently I have the penalty kill units looking like this:
- Bergeron, Chara, Marchand, McQuaid
- Krejci, Acciari, Miller, Liles
With the lines above I can see Hargrove and Backes both taking shorthanded time up front, which is part of why I projected Hargrove over Randell, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see a platoon of players go through the fourth line and bottom of the defense this year even if/when more players are added.
Defensive pairs have everyone’s attention right now, and here’s a possible look at the future.
- Chara – K. Miller
- Krug – McQuaid
- Liles – Grant
During Miller’s best play last season he played with Chara and looked respectable doing it. Krug proved last year he’s worth every bit of the money he’ll be getting this year, not just with his offensive numbers but by picking up more even strength play, and even some limited penalty killing. Alex Grant is a right shot defenseman and that is something rare in the Bruins system at the moment.
The extras are Seth Griffith who I could easily see displacing Hayes, especially given his past chemistry with Bergeron and Marchand, and Rob O’Gara who’s known to be a level-headed, strong skating, all purpose defenseman.
I won’t be a bit surprised when one or two of the currently unsigned RFA guys are brought back in, particularly Joe Morrow who I would slot in ahead of more than one player in the current six.
Goalies are almost certain to be: Rask and Khudobin. Partly because of experience, partly to make McIntyre and Subban less attractive in the expansion draft.
The Power Plays:
- Krejci, Pastrnak, Hayes, Bergeron, Krug
- Marchand, Spooner, Backes, Chara, Vatrano
Both units maintain several pieces from last year and allow Chara to be saved for more five on five play while still having at least one thirty goal scorer on each unit. With Backes on the second unit you also get a strong faceoff man who is the opposite hand from Spooner opening more options for set plays from faceoffs. Again, Griffith, or one of the other prospects could displace Hayes, Vatrano, or Pastrnak fairly easily.
For those interested in the cap implications click here.
Other players on the bubble between AHL and NHL this year: Colin Miller and Joe Morrow who both played in Boston last year but are unsigned, Tyler Randell, Tommy Cross (who’s new contract surprised me), Danton Heinen who is highly regarded but still cutting his professional teeth, and Zach Senyshyn who had 45 goals in the OHL last year.