With one month to go before training camp starts, the target on the back of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins gets bigger and bigger. If the Bruins are to become the first back-to-back Stanley Cup champs since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings, the B’s are going to need some players to step up their games and/or get contributions from new sources. Here are the top five candidates to fill those roles:
Tuukka Rask: I know, I know, Tim Thomas is the man (and should be the man), but that does not mean he is not getting older and does not need some help. Rask needs to elevate his game and play between 30-40 games. This will give Thomas the rest he needs for the postseason grind, and also prepare Rask for taking over. Who knows? That could be this season. The thing we do know is Rask needs to be better than he was in 2010-2011.
Tuukka Time on You Tube
Tyler Seguin: It has been debated over and over whether Claude Julien and company used Seguin the right way last season. My belief has always been to hold him responsible for defensive zone play, neutral zone play, and work in the corners now, and it will pay huge dividends later. Seguin has the skill to be a Joe Sakic/Steve Yzerman type, but can only get there if he dedicates himself to an all-around game. He showed flashes of brilliance last season, and may be ready to make a jump in 2011-12 as he will likely get first crack at filling Recchi’s spot on Patrice Bergeron’s line.
Jordan Caron: Played well in his cup of coffee with the Bruins at the start of the season, scoring 3 goals and 4 assists in 23 games, but struggled in the AHL with Providence. Perhaps he was bored. One can only hope so, as he certainly has the skill set to be a quality player. Caron is another potential Recchi replacement.
Steven Kampfer: Another guy who played well in limited action with the Bruins (38 GP, 5-5-10, plus-9). He should see some time with the big club, though he likely starts the season as the No. 7 defenseman. He has potential to be a decent power play piece. Kampfer needs to get stronger to overcome size disadvantage (5-foot-10, 188).
Brad Marchand: Sure Marchand had an excellent rookie season (21-20-41, plus-25) and postseason (11-8-19, plus-12), but he hopefully has only started his curve upward. If he can continue to make strides as a penalty killer, scorer, pest, and all-around solid player, he could be a valuable second-line guy for years to come. Marchand needs to get better in year two, not regress or stay the same.
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