A major part of the B’s late season and post-season offence of the 2011-12 season was the third line combo of Brian Rolston – Chris Kelly – Benoit Poliout. At the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Poliout was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lighting for a 5th Round Draft Pick (Seth Griffith) and forward Michel Ouellet and Brian Rolston was once again faced with being left hanging in free agency by the B’s.
Now with the 2012-13 season on the horizon, we again can look forward to the Bruins depth scorers in Chris Kelly and Rich Peverly but who will compliment them? Some are saying Jordan Carton will be the compliment to Kelly and Peverly this upcoming season, but will he exactly have what it takes to keep up in the NHL for the 48 games? Caron certainly has shown moments of brilliance but has never been able to find his offensive spark. He is a physical player, without question and isn’t afraid to throw his body around to move the puck, but with budding rookies Jared Knight, Ryan Spooner, Justin Florek, and the homecoming boy Chris Bourque all in the system and wanting to prove themselves at the NHL level, will Caron get his permanent stay or will the spot become a flexible in an out for the Bruins until they came find the perfect depth asset for them?
Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner both were names thrown around during their times at training camp as the possible new additions to the team. However an NHL debut for Knight looks thin, after recently returning to action after a hamstring injury kept him limited in games played and pointless, while Spooner has shown through with a modest 20 in 26 campaign so far in Providence. It will be a little more likely to see Ryan Spooner rotate into the third line spot at some point this season if the Bruins do start with Jordan Caron. The biggest downside for Spooner is at only 5’10, it is very likely he will not get to make much of his NHL ice time.
Justin Florek was a late season signing along with Torey Krug at the end of the 2011-12 season. Krug got an NHL start with the B’s and recorded his first NHL point in his first game. Florek on the other hand was sent to Providence where he recorded 4 points in 8 games after the move from Northern Michigan University. Florek has had a very slow start in Providence going only 7 in 30 this season. It is a very unlikely chance he will see any NHL time now until he steps up his game in Providence, however it won’t be unlikely the B’s would call him if need be (most likely if there is an injury on any of the bottom 6 lines.)
The other possible choice is Boston-native and possibly one of the most talked about arrivals of the off season, Chris Bourque. Returning to the land his father once ruled, I would think the Bruins would be quick to give Chris the chance to play in the NHL. It must be remembered though, that Chris is NOT the 77 that hangs in the rafters, he might be the product OF Ray.. but he is not Ray. He is definitely a superb AHL player, he is currently leading all Baby Bruin in points with 28 in 32 contests, and in his 422 game career he has logged 431 points. He has played very little in the NHL only scoring 1 career goal as a member of the Capitals in the 2008-09 season. I would find it kind of funny in a way if he managed to actually find ryhtm in the NHL as a member of the B’s and competed with the rest of them. I am not doubtful of his potential of being able to translate his AHL game to the NHL if he is given the shot here in Beantown, but at the same time I am weary that his size might be a bit of an issue, he stands only 5’8 and will probably have some trouble (like Spooner)competing at the NHL level.
There are plenty of other players in Providence who should all be given a shot like Christian Hanson, Carter Camper, and Maxime Sauve, and certainly Caron should not be denied his NHL chance, but with little time for the season and with many players with a lot to prove for Boston, I will not be surprised if we see rotating names next to Kelly and Peverly over the 48 games this season.