What to do at the center position?
The Boston Bruins have a ton of centers heading into training camp this season. There are only four sports for nine players so something has to give. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are 100% locks to make the team at center, but after that it becomes questionable about who will fill the final two slots. David Backes, Ryan Spooner, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash, Dominic Moore, Peter Mueller and Austin Czarnik.
The biggest move of the summer for the Bruins was signing David Backes. Backes can play center or wing, but everything seems to point to Backes being the third line center. That will leave one spot open for a few different players to make their presence felt.
The one player with the inside track should be Ryan Spooner. Spooner had a breakout year last season offensively, but he struggled in his own end and on faceoffs. Spooner told reporters in an interview that he would like to remain at center, but will do what is best for the team. Spooner seems likely to be either traded or on a wing spot this season due to his lack defensive abilities.
Noel Acciari made his presence felt after being recalled from Providence to play a fourth line role. Acciari only had one point since being recalled, but he earned coach Claude Julien’s trust. He was an energy player that would deliver a big hit and do all the little things to help a team win. Acciari was sent down in the winding days of the season last year, but he will look to build off a solid rookie campaign.
Riley Nash was the silent signing by Bruins when free agency opened up. Nash played on the Carolina Hurricanes before signing a two year deal with Boston. He had 22 points in 64 games last season as Bruins wanted to beef up the bottom six. He has tallied three straight 20 point seasons as a fourth line forward something Boston desperately needs. Nash will look to provide this production with his new club.
Dominic Moore was signed just over three weeks ago to a one year deal. The 36 year old is familiar with the Boston area as he played his college hockey at Harvard. Moore recently played for the New York Rangers as their fourth line center. Moore excelled in his role with the Rangers and will look to do the same in Boston.
Peter Mueller was invited into training camp as professional tryout. Mueller has not played in the NHL in the last three seasons. He was the eighth overall pick back in 2006, but never panned out in the NHL. Mueller played over in Europe the last few seasons and stated “he will do whatever Boston needs.”
Austin Cznarik seems to not have a chance to make the opening night roster, but he seems ready after having a great season in Providence. The undrafted center signed a two year deal with Boston after going undrafted and put up 61 points in 68 games to lead the AHL rookie scoring. Czarnik is small in stature, but everywhere he’s been he has produced at a high level.
With the plethora of centers on the roster, something has to give. Not all these players will be on the opening night roster, but the healthy competition will be fun to watch. Luckily for some of these players, they can also play wing.
Will any young forwards make the opening night roster?
Don Sweeney came out and spoke about how their are spots up for grabs and that no player is guaranteed to make the big club. With the World Cup of Hockey going on, there will be opportunity for young players to impress and make the big club. David Pastrnak and Frank Vatrano are locks, but with the lines not set in stone there are opportunities to impress.
Some young forwards that can push for roles include Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen, Zach Senyshyn, Brian Ferlin, Seth Griffith and Jake Debrusk.
Heinen is coming off of two great seasons at the University of Denver. The playmaking winger signed pro this past season.
Debrusk had an injury plagued season last year, but still had 21 goals and was a first round pick. Debrusk has the offensive upside and the 19-year old will look to be the last rookie standing.
Senyshyn has had a tough offseason health wise. He started the summer with mononucleosis and had to miss rookie camp due to an appendectomy surgery. Senyshyn joined the Bruins at captain’s practice this past week. Senyshyn has been lighting up the score sheet in Juniors.
Ferlin and Griffith have been in the organization already, but still will look to show they belong on the big club this year. Both players have been playing in Providence and are looking to make the jump.
Who will win the last defense spot?
The Bruins defense will look eerily similar to last season. The only difference in the top six will be that Dennis Seidenberg will not be on the roster. The Bruins resigned Kevan Miller and John Michael Liles to help sure up the back end. Without Seidenberg, that leaves a defense spot open up for grabs. Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Miller, and Liles are locks to begin the season.
The Bruins have two young defensemen that played last year sparingly that seem to be the likely two candidates. Colin Miller, who was acquired in the Milan Lucic trade, will now have a year under his belt with NHL experience and looks primed to have a good season. Joe Morrow, who was acquired in the Tyler Seguin trade, will always try and leave his mark. Dark horse options include Brandon Carlo and Jakub Zboril.
Will Krejci and Krug be ready for opening night?
David Krejci and Torey Krug both underwent offseason surgery due to injuries suffered during last season. Krejci suffered a hip injury and had to undergo surgery. This is the second hip surgery for Krejci and back in April he stated he wanted to be ready for training camp. Krejci was also selected to play for team Czech Republic in the World Cup of Hockey, but doctors advised him not to play. Although Krejci has been skating in captain’s practice at the Bruins new facility, it is worrisome that he did not participate in the World Cup. Krejci’s health is critical for the Bruins success as he was second on the team last season with 63 points.
Krug joined Krejci by also having to get surgery. Krug suffered a shoulder injury last season that needed repairs and could miss the start of the season. Krug timetable for a return was 6 months, which would cause him to miss the start of the season. With the defense already not looking great, losing Krug would be a big blow for the Bruins. Krug led all Bruins defensemen in points and really took a leap forward defensively. The one good sign is that Krug has also been skating at captain’s practice and seems to be healing well. The Bruins could use both these players healthy and ready to go on opening night.
Will the Bruins resign Brad Marchand?
Brad Marchand scored a career high 37 goals last season. Going into the 2016-2017 season, Marchand will be in the last year of his contract. Just a few days ago, Cam Neely stated that the organization would love to resign him before opening night.
That would be a wise thing for the Bruins to do. Once a player reaches free agency, the price tag will always be much higher. Especially if Marchand has a similar season production wise. Marchand will only be 29 and to put it into perspective Loui Eriksson just signed a 6 year 36 million dollar deal. Goal scoring is at a premium around the league, so getting Marchand done should be a big priority before the season starts or it could be the final season you will see the little ball of hate in a Bruins uniform.