The core members of the Boston Bruins from 2011 know one inescapable truth. If the team doesn’t win the Stanley Cup next year, the 2015-16 team will look radically different then it does this year. With two tough salary cap seasons in front of them, they’re going to need to be able to perform with what they have (barring another spectacular Tyler Seguin level trade) on the roster and in their organization.
The Boston Bruins have made some moves to solidify their roster for October. They’ve signed a lot of their young Providence talent to two-way contracts. While Reilly Smith has yet to be signed, we can expect his contract to come down from the front office in plenty of time for the start of the season. They even re-signed Jordan Caron to a very cap friendly deal.
Who will be on the Bruins top line? There is a part of me that would want to see the Bergeron line elevated to the top line. I doubt Peter Chiarelli would agree with me though. David Krejci will be centering the top wing, with Milan Lucic staying on his wing. The top choice to fix the hole made by the departing Jarome Iginla will be easy to repair.
Loui Eriksson has seen service in the top line in Dallas. As long as Eriksson stays healthy, it will be a good match for Lucic and Krejci. Eriksson has the potential to be a thirty goal scorer and it would be good to see him love up to that potential.
Who will be on the second line? The Bruins Bergeron line will be the only line that should not undergo any changes this season. Patrice Bergeron is one of the best players in the league, and any one who plays with him becomes a better player. Brad Marchand will once again assume his own role at Bergeron’s side. Marchand had a fifty point season, but a disappointing time of it in the playoffs last year.
Reilly Smith will finish out the line like he did last year. While some fans didn’t think too highly of Marchand’s fifty three point season, they were very excited by Reilly Smith’s fifty one. Smith will do his job, and the second line will remain one of the strongest lines in hockey.
Who will be on the third line? This is one of the hardest to figure out. There are a lot of potential players in play here. Let’s start by assuming that the Bruins will keep their promotions in house for now. We also have to assume Chris Kelly will be remaining in Boston this season as well. Carl Soderberg will remain at center with Kelly on one wing.
To fill in that last slot, a long overdue promotion should occur. Daniel Paille has been a faithful and diligent member of the Merlot Men. For the last few seasons, he’s brought his two way play, incredible speed, and his skill on special teams to Boston. Shawn Thornton‘s departure is the end of an age for us, and it’s time to move Paille up.
Who will be on the fourth line, and who will be the ‘thirteenth forward’ ?The fourth line will be a far different place with Shawn Thornton, and the fourth line should reflect the Bruins willing to move on without an enforcer. It will also mean a chance for Providence players to earn their slot on the roster, and a final chance for another Bruin.
Gregory Campbell‘s role will reflect others. If he remains a center, a few P-Bruins will get their shot at the NHL. If he’s moved to the wing, then other P-Bruins will get their chances. Will the Bruins want Ryan Spooner to get his shot? Will it go to Alexander Khokhlachev? Is Justin Florek ready for the NHL? Will Jordan Caron get yet another season to earn a permanent job in Boston?
Here is how I see the configuration of the fourth line depending on where Gregory Campbell ends up.
Justin Florek/Jared Knight - Gregory Campbell – David Pastrnak/Seth Griffith/Bobby Robins (Robins brings passion and could easily fill in an enforcer role if the Bruins change their minds about having one on the roster.)
If we go the other route with Campbell on the wing, the line would look like this: Gregory Campbell-Khokhlachev/Spooner-Matt Fraser/Anthony Camara. If Caron is traded, look for Seth Griffith being the thirteenth forward. If not, a cap conscious Chiarelli may surprise us all by giving Jordan Caron another season in the back up position.
With the invigoration of youth, next season’s Boston Bruins look to be a team worthy of another Stanley Cup.