Welcome back, I see you’re reading again, this one will be a little more laser focused than my last post. Without further ado the song of the post is Your Song by Elton John. So click away, drink your beer, sing along with Elton and read my ramblings.
A few days away from Bruins training camp and we have an issue. David Pastrnak is still unsigned (as a Restricted Free Agent no less)! He, of a 70 point season at the age of 21, has a bright bright future in front of him, just like his grin.
The Bruins failure with young exceptional talent of the past several years has been chronicled quite well, I needn’t dwell on the matter. However, this one seems worse than the others because when Kessel, Seguin and Hamilton, there were rumblings of their flaws within the Bruins system(s). David Pastrnak on the other hand is a fan favorite, team player (despite occasional defensive woes) and he is very happy here in Boston.
I said I wouldn’t dwell on the matter — here we are mid-September and we have heard from countless people on the Bruins beat that the next generation of talent is coming through. Well, let’s get Pastrnak signed and let him get chemistry with these guys. Out with the old, in with the new. I, as the pro-bono armchair GM, would like some changes on the bench. If you have to sell low on a few of these players, by all means, sell low.
Before getting to the guys I’d like off the team, for sake of a youth movement; let’s breakdown the currently projected lines and pairings.
Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak; Marchand and Bergeron are one of the great duos the modern sport is seeing, there’s no need to break up what works but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruce Cassidy throws a wrench at the vets to see how they handle it. I do expect Pastrnak on this line because when they were all together last season they made defenses quiver. Bergeron had injuries last season and is sure to be ready to rip. Still the issue is that 1 out of 3 is not signed.
DeBrusk-Krejci-Bjork; Krejci is the only known commodity in the NHL here. However, with injury problems here and there the past few seasons and slow linemates on either side of him; I see these two rookies firstly making the team and secondly, meshing well with the Czech. Bjork left Notre Dame and a possible Olympic roster slot to sign with the Bruins and he should aim to prove it as a top-6 guy. DeBrusk has been the twinkle of the Bruins beat guy’s eye and I believe he’ll push for a spot, make it and show he’s ready. He and Bjork do have three zone potential and this line could be solid all-around.
Vatrano-Spooner-Heinen; I was tempted to put JFK on this line but I think he needs more time down in the A. Spooner and Vatrano being offense first forwards I think Heinen being a scoring threat, this line could be pretty potent. The big IF is, can they play defense? I think given Spooner’s experience, his past coach and his desire to be noticed as a top 2 center in this league he will benefit by being on his own without a safety back-checking veteran on his line.
Kuraly-Nash-Acciari; Noel Acciari is coming into this season healthy and with a new paycheck and should ‘lead’ the fourth line. Sean Kuraly looked like he could spark the team when needed as proven with his playoff performance, however it wasn’t much for Erik Karlsson and company. Nash and he could swap for faceoffs as well as either one being bumped up a line if Spooner has his cold streaks. This line could become a fan favorite as they bring the intensity and compete every shift.
If you’re still here shocking predictions are ahead as we reach the defensive pairings.
Chara-McAvoy; The captain and the kid, both studs but in different decades. Chara hasn’t been his beastly self since the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs and McAvoy is ready to play and compete for perhaps as long as the giant he’ll be paired with. I expect to see Chara decline greatly this year so I’d imagine he’ll get bumped down as Krug and Carlo bring up their games.
Krug-Carlo; That brought me to the next pairing; Krug and Carlo. Speedy and confident will blend well with young and steady. This pairing has sleeper potential to distribute lots of points if teams over-look Krug as they have.
McQuaid/Miller-Grzelyk; I think some of the reason that McQuaid and Kevin Miller were protected from the Golden Knights over Colin Miller is that they flat out can’t stay healthy and they do need veteran guys to lead the youth movement. With Miller and McQuaid swapping crutches there will be a spot on the bottom pairing of the defense. None other than Charlestown’s own Matty Grzelyk will take the spot. Krug 2.0 (but taller) will prove to have an equal or greater season than Colin Miller when it comes down to it.
Tuukka will have a bounceback season and the backup situation will fall solely to Zane McIntyre.
You and I are still hanging in there and we got to the most exciting part of the post; snubs and scrubs.
First the scrubs, otherwise known as guys that need to be off the team or sold for popcorn vendors; Matt Belesky and David Backes. I want to like these guys on the Bruins but their subpar performances and age are becoming a not so sneaky problem. Don’t get me wrong I’d be thrilled if they proved me wrong and won us the Cup. However, I’d take a 4th rounder for the both of them. I’m completely on board with a youth movement. Which leads me to the snubs I left off the depth chart.
As I mentioned earlier JFK was a close call on the third line but I opted for him having more seasoning in the AHL, he will learn there and be ready for the NHL whenever Spooner leaves us. Austin Czarnik who made the team last year out of camp had a hard time coming back from multiple injuries which might just be the story of his career. New Hampshire’s own Tim Schaller also got the snub from me due to a pure numbers standpoint but I’d like to see him on the 4th line occasionally for a jolt. Speaking of jolts Jesse Gabrielle has turned lots of heads recently as he seems to be following in the Brad Marchand mold of players, another guy I would like to see up in the Garden at times this year. Kenny Agostino is someone who, like Vatrano has a ‘wicked rippah’ of a wrist shot, he could spend time on the 3rd or even second line if they need a look.
My friends, it’s been over 1000 words and you have stuck with my pro-bono work as the Bruins GM.
As they say, keep your ear to the grindstone,