As things stand right now, the Boston Bruins are a quarter million dollars over the cap having gone out and signed Jordan Caron to another NHL contract. If you allow for the Marc Savard contract being put on the long term injured reserve day one of the season that leaves about $3,700,000 to spend. Torey Krug and Reilly Smith are unsigned and there is no sign the players will be members of the Boston Bruins in October when the season opens.

Assuming no trades, major injuries or retirements before the season lets look at each line and pairing.

The Bergeron could see the steady tandem of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand check in for another season together with the right wing who scored the most goals for the Providence Bruins; Seth Griffith. Griffith put up 20 goals in 69 games as first year pro for Coach Cassidy last year.

The Krejci line, or given time on it arguably the Lucic line, would see the return of left wing Milan Lucic and center David Krejci, with yet another winger to work with. This year it would at least be a player familiar with the Boston system. Loui Eriksson is the only logical choice for this spot.

The third line becomes a writhing knot of enigmas, questions, and mysteries. If we assume Chris Kelly is healthy enough to start the season does he go back to center? For now, lets put him at left wing. Carl Soderberg looked his best last year as the season tipped over into the playoffs, at that point he was paying center but could get shuffled back to wing. For now we’ll write his name firmly in the center spot. That leaves the right wing open. With a look at maturity, size and a ability to play a third line checking position in the Claude Julien system, one of the best picks for the open position is Brian Ferlin.

The former Merlot line has lost something, but retains Daniel Paille at left wing, and Greg Campbell at center. Jordan Caron is the likely right wing. If Caron fills in more of the penalty killing duty, this would allow Campbell and Paille to take extra shift with other lines in the event of injuries, illness or under-performance. The Sangria Line is likely set.

At defense we’re looking at a first pairing that has Zdeno Chara and a rotating cast on the other end of the blueline. If it is Hamilton, that puts the best offensive defensemen on the same pairing, for now Seidenberg can be penciled in.

If we put a second pairing of Hamilton and Boychuck we’ve got a solid, if unfamiliar pair would can certainly be counted on for 19-22 minutes a night.

The third pairing will become a rotation of Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Matt Bartkowski. Thanks to the deep affection the injury bug holds for the Bruins defense, either here or in Providence the three have a working familiarity with each other, and as parings that will see 12-17 minutes most nights, it isn’t as important as upper pairings.

Now for the problems:

  • The most experienced right wing on the team, has never played that position consistently in Claude Julien’s rigorous system.
  • The other three right wings have all of their NHL experience concentrated in Jordan Caron. This is the same Jordan Caron who has been displaced in the lineup over the years by Zach Hamill, Brian Rolston, Carter Camper, Jamie Tardiff, Craig Cunningham, and never showed more value head to head than Shawn Thornton.
  • The defense as a whole is slow. Hamilton is hands down the swiftest, and then its a question of Miller versus Chara. Given how speedy teams like Montreal, Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Carolina are this strikes anyone with a lick of sense as disastrous.
  • With the offense taking a step back, and the defense taking at best, a step sideways it is unlikely the team is as strong overall as last year.

The observant will have noted I didn’t mention a 13th forward. Given that promoting Ferlin and Griffith brings the team to $2.1m short of the cap, and the fact that their will be injuries at some point, there needs to be some flexibility to bring up one or two players to fill those injuries. Despite the front offices’s seeming love of David Pastrnak, he also isn’t here on the roster for a number of reasons. One is simply that his cap hit is higher than any of the other wingers who are currently signed and at his size, its questionable if he’ll make it through camp onto the roster on merit.

There is a case to be made for putting Pastrnak on the roster this fall that has nothing to do with how he does at camp, but that isn’t the point of this article. Realistically, even allowing for higher speed than Griffith or Ferlin, Pastrnak has arguably not played at a level as high as the AHL, he certainly hasn’t played anything like the length of an NHL season. Having played 36 games last year, the jump to an 82 game season is likely to hit him harder than it does most college players who leave school larger and stronger.

If a thirteenth forward is carried, Ryan Spooner, is likely in the mix, or might entirely displace whoever might otherwise win the 3rd line wing. If Spooner plays there pushing Soderberg to one wing and Kelly to the other, seeing him get reps with wingers from the top two lines wouldn’t be a big surprise. You could also argue for a more physical presence in the lineup and slide Bobby Robbins into the space vacated by Shawn Thronton and possibly pushing Caron to the third line or more likely the pressbox.

I’m a bit baffled by some of the remaining free agents. As weak as this free agent class is, the number of useful players who haven’t either taken off for the KHL or signed with an NHL team is pretty surprising.

As likely the best center left Kyle Wellwood‘s unsigned status is just baffling. He had more points last season than any other remaining center, and had the third most points of any forwards remaining unsigned. The two ahead of him are Shane Doan and Alex Semin. Doan only beat him by three points and played two additional games, Semin who beat him by seven points. Based on total time on ice, with similar distributions, and having played in the same division last year Wellwood was more efficient than Semin in producing points picking up each point about half a minute quicker than Semin.

Brian Rolston after being traded to Boston at the deadline Rolston showed there’s still something left in the tank. Points in the first three playoff games, three multipoint games in the last month of the season, including a four point night. He clocked as many as 19:58 a night, and showed his versatility playing up and down the lineup in all three forward positions. He manned the point on the powerplay put in some shorthanded time and looked like he’d rolled the clock back a few years. He probably won’t command the same money as his last contract, but for teams like Colorado, Buffalo and Winnipeg who don’t have much playoff experience on the roster and have very young teams he could be that elder statesman that helps push a team over.

Daniel Winnik could help any of the several teams that desperately need to improve their penalty kill do so. His 2:44 of SHTOIG is tops among this UFA class, and he chipped in more than twenty points.

Michal Rosival is a right shooting defenseman, he played nearly 20 minutes a night for the Coyotes, at 33 he’s still in his prime. He gained ground on most shifts, and in the playoffs he picked up about two hits and two blocked shots per game.

Carlo Colaiacovo good corsi, probably can be had for under or about four million. Good points production and solid contribution in the playoffs. Former 1st round pick, and a solid sized body.

Matt Gilroy popped in twenty points on 17:30 a night. He split the season between the Senators and Lightning, good depth player who should come along fairly cheap and continue to grow.

Curtis Sanford he put up better numbers than several goalies who made it to the playoffs, for the Columbus Blue Jackets last year. He might not be a starter on some teams, but as a heavy use #2 he’s probably going to be one of the better goalies available.