The Boston Bruins need a tweak or two. That’s undeniable what they don’t need is a large scale or large salary swap out. Injecting the wrong player, or removing one who is a key contributor is counter productive. It amounts to pouring sugar in the gas tank in the final smoke test before a race.
So who are the key components? In any order you care to put them the core of personality, ability and on ice impact are: Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, and Tim Thomas. Each of these four is a huge part of the teams identity.
Bergeron is the every thing man on the team. He hits, he blocks shots, he scores he makes passes and plays in all three zones and all situations. Zdeno Chara is the Zeus upon Olympus tossing down titans and defending what’s his in a way no one else can. Tim Thomas is an emotional catalyst, an elite goaltender and capable of stealing games and series. Milan Lucic is a monster, when he’s got his legs he’s the heartbeat of the team. His physicality spreads up and down the line up.
Each of these guys would be very difficult to replace with any other single player. Bergeron for Toews is passable, but the Blackhawks wouldn’t part with their captain, and the trade improves neither team significantly. A Lucic for Perry trade would be a similar level of physicality, and an offensive upgrade but complicates the already neck deep center position and greatly weakens the Bruins left wing.
Rick Nash is a goal scoring forward who’s having a down year, and also has a huge contract. He’s not especially physical, so flipping him for Lucic means a loss in one category for a noticeable but not really needed upgrade in another. Swapping him for Krejci probably means you end up with a line with not enough pucks to go around unless you’re looking at Lucic left with Nash sliding to center and a role player at right wing, much as say Byron Bitz is filling with the Sedins.
When a team has an identity, and success changing it’s core or threatening it’s identity is not how you make it better. The teams in the NHL that don’t have an identity aren’t very successful. The Montreal Canadiens this year are to put it kindly, in flux and need to figure out a recipe for success and hold on to it. Similarly the Washington Capitals have no unified identity and most of the best known players play like individuals. Trades for a team that has held the first spot in their division for most of the season, have some good prospects in juniors college should be players that compliment or enhance who the team already is, not radically change it.
Assuming the Bruins are adding a forward, it should be someone with a bit of snarl to their game, reasonably similar ability to Horton and good size. Ideally they would develop similar chemistry to Lucic and Horton, but other pairings are possible. In the unlikely event they developed a bromance that rivaled Jared Knight (@JKnight97) and Ryan Spooner (@RSpooner2376) so much the better, having more than one player you sync with on the ice never hurt a team. A defenseman is probably needed as much as a forward for depth. Since a certain Bean Pot champions captain is unlikely to be available, they need someone who can come in like Adam McQuaid and push other players to be better. For my money guys on expiring deals, or reasonable deals with one year remaining make a whole not more sense than big name guys.
The Bruins escaped their visit from the Columbus Blue Jackets with two points and that’s about all that can be said for the home team in front of the crease. Tuukka Rask made the most of his appearance and gave the Bruins a chance to…not lose badly. Curtis Sanford as the other end of the ice was impressive. Good rebound control, good positioning, and some good luck. I think it’s safe to say that two more starts by Sanford of that quality will make the call to go to Mason a very tough thing.
The Blue Jackets are a better team on the ice than they are in the standings. They had excellent defense front of their crease tonight and broke up far more passes than they allowed to be made. At center ice they held their own with the Bruins for stretches, something teams a good distance above them haven’t done much of even when the Bruins have lost. The offensive zone was not pretty for the visitors, they never managed to get any sustained pressure. Despite their managing to score, the power play was something that must have fans covering their eyes.
With Johnny Boychuk out with flu-like symptoms, something I more than suspect he was not the only player on the roster with, McQuaid slid into his spot along side along side the teams recently exonerated captain. In sixteen pretty solid minutes of play he got the only goal, played sound defense and generally looked good against Nash and the Blue Jackets top forwards. It was interesting to note that McQuaid and Chara played within the offensive zone tonight where as many nights Boychuck and Chara line up just outside the blueline. I’m not 100% sure if this is an adjustment to the opposition or owes to the speed advantage McQuaid has over Boychuk.
Despite a game that can only be generously called sloppy, the Bruins will head to Long Island Saturday knowing they won all five games of their home stand, and have a chance to maintain one of the NHL’s two seven game win streaks. The other belongs to the New York Rangers who the Bruins will host on January 21st. My stars of the game: 3: Sandford 2: Rask 1: Mcquaid.
Some members or positions on the Bruins seem to come up for speculation on a daily basis. Some times it is highlighting a weakness, sometimes it is because of excess depth. David Krejci’s name has come up more often than before recently. Someone asked me what I would consider a good return on him. Personally I wouldn’t trade him before the All Star game at the earliest and even then to the return would have to be advantageous. For all his potential, Seguin isn’t as solid at center as he is at wing, nor has he at this point proven he can be consistently better than Bergeron, Krejci, Kelly, and arguably Peverley at the position.
Player for player even swap. I don’t see too many names on the market that might be both available and of equivalent value when age, contract and injury history are considered. Ideally the player coming back would be either a shooting power play quarterback defenseman who can be relied upon in his own end as a 2-4 guy. The other option would be a productive winger who isn’t a disaster in their own end, and can get 6-10 powerplay goals a year if given a reasonable amount of time on the man advantage.
Trade for picks and prospects. Given what the going rate for players was going into last years trade deadline, his RFA status on July 1, that he lead the NHL in post season scoring on route to a Cup, and having been the leading scorer on the Bruins a first round pick should be the minimum. The first should be for a team projected to finish with a top ten pick. Ideally a prospect would come back, or a conditional second round pick.
For a swap for prospects it would need to be a pretty exact fit for the Bruins current needs and likely be someone who could be playing in the NHL successfully but wasn’t do to depth on the trade partners team.
As part of a large scale trade I can’t see including more than two prospects or one other roster player and one prospect for anyone but the untouchable level players in the NHL. Since I don’t see Bobby Ryan, Duncan Keith, or other players at that level becoming available, I suspect if we saw that size trade in the Bruins at this time it would signal bigger issues than there are any indications of. But if the Ducks were to offer up Bobby Ryan for Krejci, McQuaid and a prospect or 2nd round pick or later, I’d have to look really hard at the idea if i were sitting in the corner office.
Yesterday afternoon the Bruins front office set of a wave of speculation. All they had to do was let the hockey universe know they were going to be holding a press conference today at 6pm. No one I’ve seen, or heard knows anything and the lines of speculation are both long and distinguished. Some of the more plausible ones include:
A trade, either major along the lines of acquiring a number 2 or 3 defenseman, or goal scorer to help finish when on the powerplay. Or just a shakeup move or shuffling of excess and or disappointing parts .Andrew Alberts and Chuck Kobasew were all traded early in the season under Chiarelli. Peter also pulled off some last years key trades well in advance of the deadline, so a settling in period is clearly part of his philosophy.
A contract extension for someone in management. I could be his, or someone else.
A change in parts of the coaching staff.
Injury updates: Marc Savard being the most discussed, but some have pointed out Krejci and Mcquaid’s injuries as cause for concern as well questioning the extent to which Rask is recovered.
Others have wondered about health of off ice personnel and management.
Trade talk has focused on a few specific people, without the overwhelming, ridiculous, and flat out wrong push given in notable quarters to the acquisition of Tomas Kaberle. While that doesn’t mean this won’t be a major trade, it is entirely possible the trade won’t be for who is most speculated.
Ryan Whitney of the Edmonton Oilers is a big contributor from the backend. He’s been in the 40 point range most seasons, and peaked at 59. Points wise that lines him right up with Zdeno Chara, he’s also a 28 year old Boston native with a four million dollar cap hit this year and next.
Daniel Alfredsson is one of the more interesting players speculated. Age and injury history make the amount of time and money left on his contract risky, but the fact he’s still up to playing over 19 minutes a game which is comparable to Patrice Bergeron who is more than a decade younger is solid counter balance. Add to that Chiarelli’s days in Ottawa, the fact he was worn the C even through all the nastiness the last few years there, and that he is well known to Chara and Kelly and you bring the appeal a bit higher. He was a big part of the Senators “golden years” when they were crushingly dominant, but at 38 has still not won a Cup.
Rene Bourque (no relation) of the Calgary Flames has his name floated about in trade talks about as often as Michael Ryder did after his first season here, and for similar reasons. When he’s good, he’s damned good, when he’s not he’s almost invisible. His cap hit is reasonable considering he’s produced two straight 27 goal seasons on team with questionable centers.
Those are the three most reasonable and frequently speculated trades. Some others possibilities exist, and are at least to me more interesting.
The New York Rangers are sputtering. They may have beat the Jets last night, but through seven games they’ve only scored fourteen goals. As much as they like having Dubinsky and Callahan are very similar players playing on the same line and it is possible a different player might be what is needed to give the team some mojo. Neither is playing particularly well, both play center and wing, often alternating during the game. Both were recently signed, but Sather and company can’t have too much room left on the leash after the way the team has ended the last couple seasons.
Kyle Turris is frequently named in speculation since the Phoenix Coyotes and he have yet to reach an agreement, but I don’t find this likely given how many times the GM has said he’d rather let Turris sit the year than trade him.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have just about flatlined. They have 1 point in eight games, have allowed more goals than any team in the league, and spent a lot of money in the off season specifically so they could see more teams below them in the standings than above them. Of the players they might be willing to move, R.J. Umberger is former Flyer with a lot of playoff experience who has the center/wing experience that the Bruins management favors, I suspect going back would be defensemen and maybe a goalie.
The Nashville Predators have a lot of big decisions to make both as management and players. Pekka Rinne and Ryan Suter will be UFA’s if not signed by July 1, Shea Weber will be an RFA with arbitration rights. Weber has indicated he only wants to stay if they are committed to winning, I can’t imagine Suter and Rinne have said or done anything different. While I don’t expect we’d land any of them, a couple draft picks from a team that might finish outside the playoffs in exchange for parts of our system that don’t fit could be win-win for both teams.
Another team that for the sake of it’s long term survival, and recent change in ownership can’t be ignored in any trade speculation, especially given how much change there was in Buffalo when Pegula took over is the Winnipeg Jets. They aren’t an expansion team, but they might as well be, and they will need to to keep the fan base very satisfied with such a small building to draw revenue from.
In two months the division standings will tell you which teams are good, which are bad and which are bubble teams. With the Bruins, Sabres and Canadiens picked preseason to make the playoffs, right now all the division standings tell us is which teams are off to a poor start.
The Senators have a surprisingly bright future for a team with such a dismal roster. Yes Alfredsson and Spezza are capable of amazing hockey play, but take the two out and you’d be hard pressed to be a good ECHL team. Eleven of the teams 20 goals through seven games have been scored by Spezza, Alfredsson or Michalek. Butler and Filatov, two of their most highly skilled prospects have only played two games each, Filatov as a +1 with an assist in nearly fifteen minutes against the still undefeated Detroit Red Wings. At 2-5-0 they are unlikely to get higher in the standings than they are now.
If you ask some hockey fans they might say the injury bug has developed an unnatural love for the boys of the Bell Centre, others might say its years of karma over diving, faking injuries and encouraging malicious prosecution coming home to roost. Either way, the Habs have been dinged and damned from the word go. Markov is out, Gomez left the game the other night for an MRI, their leading goal scorer from last year missed time with a skate cut, P.K. Subban’s ability to produce points is broken, and on and on. The bright spots in Habsville arepretty limited, but Max Pacioretty has emerged to climb within one goal of the total he had in two of his previous three seasons with the team, and Yannick Weber who is playing more minutes in all situations this year is currently leading the team in +/- at +3, an impressive number when you realize the team has given up 19 goals and only scored 13 through six games.
Until the teams visit to Boston in which he was held to just one shot and no points, Phil Kessel had to feel like he was on top of the world. He was the leader in points and goals, the team was undefeated and the Bruins were to put it mildly, struggling mightily. Then the game started. The Leafs were not only routed, Tyler Seguin, the first return on the three draft picks Toronto gave up to get him had a three point night. The Thank You Kessel chants reigned down and the Leafs bench had no answer. The Leafs faceoff with the Canadiens tonight for the second time this season and have a chance at regaining the division lead.
If there is a more popular man in Buffalo right now than Terry Pegula you’re gonna have to point them out to me. Unless that is, it’s Ryan Miller. Through five games teams biggest star and arguably the worlds best goalie has a GAA of 1.61 and a Sv% of .950 which helps explain why the team leads the division. The other end of the ice isn’t anything to complain about either. In the teams six games they’ve scored twenty goals, all of this without Boyes, Leino or Ennis showing any signs of life. Anyone who is surprised if this team is still playing in May just isn’t paying attention.
The bad news is what with Krejci, Mcquaid, and Kampfer all missing time already the team has had to ice some players for whom the value has yet to be determined. This has been part of a sluggish start has them looking up at both the powerhouse Sabres and the unproven Leafs. The good news is that Kampfer and Krejci have both made returns and contributed in them. The team finally found both its focus and emotion, sadly not in that order and managed to derail the spunky Toronto team. The question of how well they can and will play in front of Tuukka Rask has yet to be answered in a satisfactory way, leading many fans to question if the players know something about the backup goalie the rest of us don’t.
The Boston Bruins host 1997 number one draft pick Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks.
The Montreal Canadiens will look to even up the season series against the visiting Maple Leafs.
The Ottawa Senators are hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets in what is probably the only game of the month in which the odds makers will favor Daniel Alfredssons team.
The Buffalo Sabres will charge into Lightning territory tonight where for the first time in a long time Lecavalier is making fantasy hockey owners are just as happy to have him on their team as Stephen Stamkos.
The Boston Bruins haven’t been shy about making trades in the Peter Chiarelli era. While many of them were the type of under the radar, no immediate impact trades like picking up AHL defensemen, or bringing in an aging veteran in exchange for some guys who were never going to be regulars, those aren’t the only trades we’ve seen. One need only look to last summer with the departure of Dennis Wideman and a first round pick for Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell. Some trades have worked out better than others, few are for the player that everyone wants but they happen on a pretty regular basis.
When you look at the team a few things spring to mind immediately. One is the extreme and superfluous depth at center. This is the most obvious one, and half of the reason I suspect we’ll see a trade between now and the middle of October with it being more likely sometime from October 7th on. Another is how certain teams, mostly outside the conference are in desperate need of a penalty killing captain. For those teams, having someone who could help them against last years conference champions in 5 on 5 play as well would be a bonus.
On the backend things are a bit murkier. The blueline has clearly been the general manager’s favorite place to tweak. Not one of the blueliners currently on or likely to make the opening night roster played for Boston before his arrival. Add in the movement of Andrew Alberts, Matt Hunwick, Matt Lashoff, Jeff Penner, and half a dozen others and it’s clear something motivates the man in the corner office to stir this pot frequently. If you look at the Bruins scoring from defensemen last season, and compare it to other teams well, the ranking is quite similar to the powerplay, only not quite as high. If you look for someone who may have failed to live up to their billing, or regressed since arriving under coach Julien’s eye the odds of someone being moved seem a little higher.
Given that Jordan Caron and Steve Kampfer spent enough time in Boston both playing and practicing with the big club for them to be known quantities, if a move is going to be made in their favor it shouldn’t come as that big a surprise. They would in fact be following directly in the footsteps of Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid who came up the previous year for some games and stuck to the roster. You could also say they would have an advantage over McQuaid and Marchand in having been around to watch the big club prepare for and recover from playoff games. Assuming the coaching staff and management have faith in them, this would give them an entire season to integrate with the defending champions.
Given all the cryptic and in some cases naked remarks of Julien, Chiarelli and club history one or two prospects who might find greener pastures elsewhere might be moved as well. Sobotka, Bitz, and Nokelainen are just a few of the names who went from fringe players here to full time or regular NHL players in other cities. Currently the Bruins are at 49 contracts according to CapGeek.com, if they do need to make a move later in the year having another free contract spot could be make or break for a deal.
In order of likelihood I’d say we’ll see one move at forward, then a single move at defense, and least likely a larger deal involving two or three roster players and or prospects.
Given how little turnover was expected for the remaining roster spots after the signing of Pouliot and the acquisition of Joe Corvo I’m honestly surprised by how many of the AHL players are still in camp. Add in Chris Clark lingering around and you have a genuine mystery if all you do is look at the surface of it. One forward position to fill, and a seventh defensemen to weed from the pack. A coach who just wanted to get thing set up and start working on the regular season lines could be forgiven for making an easy call and going with Jordan Caron who was here for twenty games last season much as Brad Marchand was the year before, or Jamie Arniel who led the Providence Bruins in goals and points and calling the forward position filled. Likewise, Steve Kampfer was in the midst of a promising rookie season before being sidelined, and Matt Bartkowski was called up for six games.
Yet, it is down to ten days left before the banner is raised and the puck is dropped on the new season and ice is littered with other players. Part of this is no doubt an effort to give the key players like Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and others who did the heaviest lifting throughout the championship run as light as workload as possible. But that can’t explain it all. It’s only when you pull up a site like NHLNumbers.com or CapGeek.com that it becomes apparent that you’re looking at plans for later in the season when it becomes expedient to move players who won’t be brought back either because of their contract demands or their performance, as well as next years potential roster.
As of today, the number of players signed for the 2011-12 season is disconcertingly small. NHLNumbers lists just four defensemen from the Cup run signed beyond this season, Chara, Seidenberg, Ference and McQuaid are a lot of minutes covered but not enough for a full season. Up front the numbers are even worse, excluding Marc Savard, there are just five forwards signed for the 2012-13 season. Worse, of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Tyler Seguin, only Bergeron is not due for contract renewal after that season.
This also explains the early dismissal of the bright junior prospects. Not a few fans were genuinely shocked to see the departure of the top CHL players before allowing them even token appearances in the middle preseason games. While only one or two of the forwards were even close to NHL ready, they weren’t collectively close enough to make distracting from the AHL prospects reasonable. Sauve and Arniel are entering their third year out of juniors. Zach Hamill who had a cameo last season in his fourth year out of Everett Silvertips is one of just two of the two ten picks in the 2007 draft to play less than 100 games in the NHL.
Two of the defense pairings that have emerged through camp and the preseason games draw attention to themselves. The first is veteran Andrew Ference and Colby Cohen who was brought over in the Matt Hunwick trade. Cohen despite being traded for a roster player was not among the defensemen called up during the season. The former BU Terrier has shown some offensive prowess as an amateur but in sixty-six total professional games has just two goals. Cohen’s fellow Keystone State native Matt Bartkowski who was part of the filling on the Seidenberg acquisition has been seen skating with Johnny Boychuck. Bartkowski did manage to be on the ice for six games for Boston last season in with limited ice time.
Add in the return of Zach McKelvie and David Warsovsky’s first full professional season and you can see eleven different defensemen jockeying for seven positions. Warsovsky left school to join Providence last season, and put up three assists in the final ten games of the AHL season. Warsovsky was acquired for Sobotka and is looked at as a potential powerplay quarterback. McKelvie is fresh off two years with the Army and looks steadier than most expected after two years away from the professional game.
One can’t help but speculate on if we will see one or two of last seasons roster moved. With the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement set to expire at seasons end, the Bruins pitiful powerplay, and the cachet of a fresh Stanley Cup run these might present the perfect storm for getting or moving players for the Bruins suits. Some teams may be nervous the labor dispute will get as bad as the NBA’s. Even a work stoppage that is settled as relatively quickly as the NFL’s could have a negative impact on some struggling franchises ticket sales and advertising revenue. Because of this there is a chance that swapping out a player or two could become irresistible.
With just two preseason games left and a solid dozen players vying to fill two roster spots it is anyones guess who will be on the opening night roster. Given the moves the Bruins have made in recent years in the early portion of the season that have moved players like Matt Hunwick, Jeff Penner and Andrew Alberts the odds of the roster being the same on January 6th as it will be on opening night aren’t very high.
Today I was on hand for the opening of training camp at the Boston Garden. The lobby held about 200 people at each the east and west entrance around nine, by about nine thirty five when the doors opened the number was closer to five hundred each side.
Among the most amusing occurrences was the repeated hush that came over the Garden when Claude Julien spoke. I’m not saying everyone stopped speaking but the volume level dropped to about 1/5th the average excited murmur. This happened each time he spoke in both the A and B groups.
Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand were paired together on several rushes and drills in the second session. This struck me as an interesting paring that makes me wonder how likely we are to see the five players left from last years top two lines left in the same mix. One of the things that struck me about lines one and two last year was the lack of speed on one and the lack of size on the other. Nathan Horton was hands down the fastest skater on his line and he’s probably not going to be invited to the speed competition at the All Star game. Patrice Bergeron who probably only tips the scale at 200lbs when holding Lord Stanley’s Cup over his head was the largest player by several pounds on his line last year.
Zach Hamill had a solid day. He may have scored on one or two of the rushes, but I wasn’t tracking that quite as much as I would later in the year. What I did notice is he was one of the first forwards to deliver a hit along the boards in a drill. Moments later someone else returned the favor and he showed good strength on his skates staying upright and not shying away.
Tyler Seguin is visibly larger even from the stands. He looks to have filled out across the chest and shoulders. He did not appear to have lost a step in his skating. And yes, the puck bunnies and Tylerphiles were out in full force.
Ryan Spooner continued the trend he showed in this years dev-camp of not shying away from going at the larger (nearly everyone) players. At one point he attempted to skate through Zdeno Chara, physics intervened. On other rushes he had some dazzle.
David Krejci’s skating was some of the best I’ve seen from him. It will be interesting to see how he does entering the season healthy for the first time in recent years. Last year he started off with a bad wrist. Going back a bit further was an entire season hobbled by a hip injury.
Overall the two sessions had a different flavor. The early session seemed more a “welcome to camp, try not go pull a groin” skate session with a couple drills. The later session had a few more drills and seemed to have more of the forwards who are either jostling for their position on the roster or fighting for an NHL job. Both were interesting, but for those going in with a small kids or new fans group B might prove more interesting of the trend continues.
Alexander Khokhlachev’s skating improved a bit from dev-camp and he may have managed to pack on a few pounds along with crossing over into adulthood about a week ago. I suspect at least half of the improved skating is freshness and not a junior season that ran almost directly into the development camp where divine sadistskating instructor Besa Tsintsadze ran him and others into the ice.
While I can’t think of anyone who looked bad there was one standout who looked to have come to camp with more oomph than many. Rich Peverley who was acquired at the deadline last spring and morphed into something of a binkie for Julien was hands down the sharpest looking player on the ice at either session. At one point or another in drills he sponsored equipment sales replete with items formerly belonging to Joe Corvo, Adam Mcquaid, Tuukka Rask and Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara. While practice, particularly the first of the year is just that, you can’t fail to notice he clearly set his mind on being a big part of the team this season. As one of the ten Bruins contracts set to expire on July 1 it is no wonder he wants to make an even better impression this season than he did across his time in Boston last year.
For the first time in decades there are very few questions to be answered in terms of personnel on and off the ice. We have two time Vezina Trophy winner, and Conn Smyth holder Tim Thomas returning in goal with the well regarded Tuukka Rask backing him up. The defense is nearly as well stocked with the hulking Zdeno Chara and his oft overlooked but indispensable wing-man Dennis Seidenberg as the go to duo. Slated to return was are last years breakout defender Adam Mcquaid, the snarling wolverine to Chara’s loping wolf Andrew Ference, former AHL defenseman of the year and newlywed Johnny Boychuk. The well traveled Joe Corvo is the only new guy likely to be in the top six on October 6 when the banner goes up. At forward Brad Marchand recently resigned and will almost certainly resume his “I Felt Like It.” behavior along side the teams best skater Patrice Bergeron, and leaving just one forward slot among the four lines in doubt.
With studs like Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner headlining the list of those who hope to turn pro this year, some might just pencil one of their names into the lineup and go back to counting down until the puck drops. That would be a mistake. The biggest question left after Marchand reupping and Savard being down checked for the season is where Seguin will play. This is the question that affects every other decision that will be made this year and going forward. If he is going to play at center going forward, for now that means the third line and likely with one or both Peverley and Kelly. If he’s going play at wing, he could still end up with last seasons late acquisitions, or he could slide up and join Marchand in flanking Bergeron. If he does, as some have speculated land next to the dynamic duo the question become what role the third line will take. If you’re expecting the lines centered by Bergeron and Krejci to carry a hefty percentage of the offense, the third line becomes a checking line by default.
If the third line is to be a checking line with Kelly and Peverley making up two thirds of it, then Pouliot is likely in the lead for the third spot on the line. Another option is to put a rookie who may not be ready to play in all situations on that line and use them sparingly while double shifting other forwards to leverage their capabilities. If that is the case the door is wide, wide open and the list goes well beyond Arniel, Caron, Suave, as front runners and allows for anyone such as Camper, Cunningham or Khokhlachev to blow the doors off management and earn a chance to grow into a well rounded player.
One of the other options that I haven’t seen talked about for Bergeron’s second winger is Peverley. Peverley was used in every situation and on every line during the playoffs last year. He’s a high end skater in both speed and agility, he’s a good passer and has even taken faceoffs on a regular basis. If he’s slotted in on the second line, the third line is possibly even more interesting. Pairing Seguin with Caron to fill out the line with Kelly gives a good amount of size, speed and skill and makes the Bergeron’s line even more effective as a two way production and scoring line. Seguin and Caron would be able to come along at a reasonable pace earning additonal ice timeand give each of them familiarity with a player likely to be in the organization a long time.
On defense the question of who is number seven is possibly more interesting. Steve Kampfer looked great for parts of his time prior to his injury last season, looked good at others, and looked entirely out of his depth on more than one occasion. Still, he played more time among the six defensemen put on the ice last year than any of the other options. David Warsovsky is a possibilty as he’s an offensive specialist and might be looked at to help improve the powerplay. Ryan Button intruiged me at prospect camp with his skating, reflexes and hands and shouldn’t be overlooked when taking notes the next couple weeks. Matt Bartkowski was the other semi-regular member of the Bruins defense last year. While his time wasn’t particularly impressive, it’s hard to lay that entirely at his skates as most of the game he played the club was mired in a funk that made the team painful to watch.
Given how little was done to address the powerplay from outside the team over the offseason, and the cap position of several teams don’t be surprised if the Bruins make a move or two between now and the start of the season. The Buffalo Sabres have heavily retooled since Terry Pegula took over, are currently well over the cap and a very dangerous team, the Calgary Flames are still in desperate need of a center who can stay within shouting range of Jarome Iginla as well. Not to be left off the list of teams yearning for a playoff spot are the recently uptooled Columbus BlueJackets and the Minnesota Wild. Columbus hasn’t made the playoffs in their history, and the Wild have not been in the post season the last two seasons.
There aren’t many questions to be asked about roster spots this year, but what questions there are will keep us all watching.