The Boston Bruins had a revolving cast of characters filling out their third line last season. The season started with Bruins alternate captain Chris Kelly as their center. Injuries took their toll throughout the season, and the line ended up being centered by Carl Soderberg. The line had its struggles through the regular season, but they turned out to be the strongest line for the Black and Gold in the postseason.
The constantly shifting roster made it hard at times for the Bruins to get momentum with that line. Providence players like Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser did their best to fill in the holes as the season went through. Ryan Spooner had a strong start, but just didn’t gel the way Fraser did. Both Spooner and Fraser will likely be invited to training camp with a chance to earn spots on the roster.
Cam Neely and Peter Chiarelli have commented on how they didn’t want to use the compliance buy out last season, and how they aren’t particularly thrilled to use it this time around. Chris Kelly’s injury makes him immune to a buyout under the current CBA.That being said, Kelly should be back for the regular season, if the Bruins don’t choose to try to move him to another squad. With Carl Soderberg turning out to be such a good center though, Kelly’s days in Boston may be numbered.
Loui Eriksson started off in the second line at the beginning of the season. He suffered two concussion through out the year, and that relegated him to the third line after he got back in the lineup. (The surprising performance of Reilly Smith further cemented Eriksson’s place on the third line.) Eriksson and Soderberg have done very well together, and it’s likely those two will remain a team next season. Eriksson fits in well, and provides speed on a team that is certainly not one of the fastest in the NHL.
One of the big surprises for the Bruins this year was the winger turned center Carl Soderberg. Soderberg has gotten used to NHL hockey, and he continues to improve. He brings his size, a faster than expected speed, and an outstanding hockey IQ to the Bruins. The fact that he can do all this while being mostly blind in one eye makes him rather remarkable. Soderberg is one of those players that has adapted to the Bruins playing style and has seemed to enjoy his time wearing the Black and Gold. He’s made a solid impression to the Bruins front office, and short of a disaster, he’ll be back in Boston.
“He didn’t play for a month, from the time when he left Sweden and the time that he played for us, and he was a little overweight, from a hockey playing standpoint,” recalled Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli on Soderberg’s performance. “So he came back [to camp] in terrific shape. He knew where he had to be. He came back in terrific shape, and he just hit the ground running. I’m glad he got in some games last year in the playoffs because it really helped. You know, I remember him telling me in the exit meeting — ‘I know what to expect now.’ It’s such a high level and a high tempo, so it really helped him for the summer.”
Chris Kelly will likely not remain a Bruin. We’ve got Soderberg to stay at center, and a lot of Providence talent coming up. It’s a shame since he had his best season before his injury. We’ll see what happens as the Bruins keep making their moves to another Stanley Cup run next season.