Less than a full month into this years off season, the Boston Bruins have already made some very significant moves to improve their depth and top 6. Moving Tyler Seguin to Dallas and signing Jarome Iginla are two of the biggest moves the team has made in years. Adding the tenacity and consistent scoring of Jarome Iginla and the finesse of Loui Erikksson have made the Bruins a very dangerous team next season.
Erikksson in his last 4 seasons has averaged over 60 points consistently; 63 points in 82 games (2008-09), 71 in 82 (2009-10), 73 in 79 (2010-11), and 71 in 71 (2011-12). 2012-13 was a bit of an off year for Erikksson but it was for a lot of people. Giving Erikksson a full 82 game season along side the two-way play of Patrice Bergeron and the hard-nosed play of Brad Marchand will improve his already amazing scoring touch. Jarome Iginla adds a strong scorer and heavy hitting power forward to replace Nathan Horton, since the 2000-01 season Jarome Iginla had not dropped below 30 goals and 60 points. It wasn’t until this shortened season he finally dropped below his normal mark (only scoring 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points) but much like Erikksson he was thrown off by the shortened season as well as moving teams at the Trade Deadline. But Iginla flourished in the playoffs with the Penguins scoring 12 points in 11 games before running into the Boston Bruins who kept him scoreless in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Jarome and Loui both add something the Bruins have needed for a long time, consistent scoring. While Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic all contribute largely to the team’s offense, getting a guy like Iginla who has had two 50 goal seasons and Loui who is a proven 70 point scorer it helps the team and will greatly improve everyone else much like the influence of Jaromir Jagr. But with these new additions what will the Bruins look like next season? The projected line ups that seem to be going around are:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand – Bergeron – Erikksson
Soderberg – Kelly – Caron
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
That line up isn’t bad by any means.. except for one thing: Jordan Caron
I have been highly critical of Jordan Caron ever since I first saw him play in a Bruins uniform. He doesn’t seem to be dealing well in the NHL level (nor the AHL level for that matter). He constantly goes for huge corner hits while leaving the puck behind, he crosses the blue line with the puck and ends up dumping into a bad spot creating a turn over or he just turns the puck over in the neutral zone instead of taking a hit to make a good pass. He’s not working out for the team and he needs to go, he’s had several chances at holding a roster spot on this team but it’s not working out.
Looking at the current Providence roster there are 4 players in particular that would be great fits on the Bruins roster next season: Carter Camper, Justin Florek, Ryan Spooner and Kyle MacKinnon. Spooner has been developing very quickly and lead the Baby-B’s in scoring with 57 points in 59 games. Camper was second with 47 in 57 and has had NHL time with the Bruins during the 2011-12 season when he scored his first goal on ex-Bruin Alex Auld. Justin Florek and Kyle MacKinnion were both 25+ point scorers but their strengths came in neutral zone play and goal line play. Having watched a lot of Providence Bruins during the lost first half of the 2012-13 season, I was greatly impressed by the play of Florek and MacKinnion. Florek in particular caught my eye as he was never once a consistent minus during the season and he plays a very diminished role in the NHL these days, that of a “switching forward”. When talking about a players position as a forward one usually labels them as a Right Wing, Centre, or a Left Wing. But there have been many players throughout the years who are just simply known as forwards. They are the kind of guys who have strengths in all forward positions you put them in, for a guy like Florek that means he could easily handle the Right Wing spot on the third line left by Rich Peverly. MacKinnion is a natural centre, and with there already being 2 centremen on the third line it would be best to leave him in Providence until maybe an injury to Soderberg or Kelly.
The other options are Matt Fraser and Riley Smith. Both were acquired in the trade for Loui Erikksson and both saw NHL playing time this season. Fraser is a natural left wing, and in 12 games logged 3 points (1-2). Smith played 37 games and logged 9 points, although both Smith and Fraser have excelled in the Dallas system. Fraser scored 46 points in 62 games (33-13) with the Texas Stars and Smith scored 35 points in 45 games (14-21). Maybe with the help of Chris Kelly and the rest of the team Smith and Fraser could develop into full time NHLers for the season. Although if given the decision, I would chose Smith over Fraser for the start of the season. Fraser (while a good player) is a left winger and the left wing spot will be held by Carl Soderberg. Smith on the other hand is a natural right winger, and that is the spot that needs filling. So what my lines would like are:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand – Bergeron – Erikksson
Soderberg – Kelly – Florek / Smith
Paille – Campell – Thornton
The idea would be to split the spot between Florek and Smith in the beginning of the season and see which forward progress the best over a span of say 10-15 games. Whichever of the two has shown the most poise, skill, and overall defensive-offensive play should stay and the other goes to Providence for the time being. I think that both Florek and Smith deserve a chance at roster spots and there could be a good chance the Bruins would probably give it to Smith first then Florek (assuming Florek is a consideration). Another possible fix would be Craig Cunningham, the 22 year old forward in his last 2 seasons in Providence has posted 82 combined points in 151 games (45 goals 37 assits). Cunningham is another natural right wing who would be perfect for the position as well.
With the rookie development camp right around the corner and the team camp also coming up soon in August/September, we will soon know who the Bruins intend to use to fill the roster spot.