Yesterday’s announcement Shawn Thornton‘s departure leaves some awfully big skates to fill in Boston. There is talk in Boston already on who will be the player that ends up as part of the new ‘Maroon Line’. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has stated that the Bruins were moving away from the enforcer mindset in order to tweak the team to be more speed oriented. They were also looking to promote from within with one of the younger crew from the AHL Providence Bruins. So, who is the likely candidate to get the job?
Justin Florek had thirty eight points (nineteen goals)for the P-Bruins last season. When called up to Boston near the end of the year he put in a goal and an assist in four games. He’s gotten a taste of the NHL life, and the kid is looking for more. He’s got Dougie Hamilton size, and a near equal hockey IQ. He has the build to be a fourth liner in Boston. The big Bruins used him on the penalty kill, and having someone who is good in a pinch on special teams is just gravy on the potatoes. Granted, the Bruins chose to use Matt Fraser in the playoffs. This certainly doesn’t discount the potential he has to make the team with a good training camp and preseason performance.
Matt Fraser is another six foot plus, two hundred pound plus P-Bruin who has a better than average shot of making the Bruins fourth line next year. Fraser was the add-on player in the big Tyler Seguin / Loui Eriksson trade last season, and his potential is making the trade look like a better idea even more. Fraser played fourteen games for Boston in the regular season, and four more in the playoffs. He put in three goals during his time in Boston, and earned one assist. He’s another big body that could compliment Gregory Campbell (as long as Campbell doesn’t end up in the role currently being filled (although I guess not for much longer) by Jordan Caron). Fraser all has impressive speed that could compliment Daniel Paille on the fourth, or even Erikssson and Carl Soderberg on the ‘How Swede It Is’ line.
While the enforcer role may be dying out, they’re not extinct yet. Just in case the Bruins may want to keep a situational enforcer on the roster (although Adam McQuaid half counts in this circumstance), they could go with a player whose hockey past is very similar to Shawn Thornton’s. Bobby Robins is a right wing player that has paid his dues in the AHL much like Thornton. Robins is faster than Thornton, but no less feisty. The last time the Bruins teams had a pre-season scrimmage, it was Robins who was willing to throw down with Adam McQuaid. Granted, Robins is thirty one years old, but he brings scoring potential to the team (and a whopping six hundred and eighty seven minutes in penalties in his three regular seasons as a P-Bruin).
The fourth line will undergo a radical change next season, and hopefully the Bruins organization will make the tweaks necessary in order to give them the best chance of a Stanley Cup.