Nothing like an occasional surprise to throw a wrench in everyone’s roster predictions. Today it was announced that the Boston Bruins have chosen to invite former Philadelphia Flyer (and destroyer of the Bruins dreams back in 2010) Simon Gagne to the Bruins training camp in September. The thirty four year old Gagne has been off the ice for a year, and while his chances of making the bottom six forwards is limited (especially with the young talent coming up from Providence), it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
It’s a win-win for Boston. If they sign Gagne, it will be for something near league minimum(which will be great for the Bruins, who are currently in ‘cap hell’). Gagne will certainly up the compete level for the players trying to make the roster. The Bruins can always say “Thanks, but no thanks.” to Gagne, who did spend the last year in the broadcast booth.
The Bruins top six forwards are locked in for Boston. They all have no-trade clauses and they’ve earned their slots (despite a growing rumbling among the fan base to move Marchand down the roster or out of town). The organization has all but announced the Loui Eriksson will get Jarome Iginla‘s job. As long as Eriksson has a healthy season, that’s great news for the Black and Gold. Milan Lucic and David Krejci will remain in their slots on the top line. The Bruins second line is the only line that will look exactly like it did last year. Patrice Bergeron (the best overall player on the team) will center the line backed up by Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith.
The third line is certainly more complicated. There will be unknown factors making final placement of this line tricky. For the moment, we know Carl Soderberg isn’t ready to crack the top six, but he’s become a dependable center. That will keep Chris Kelly on the wing. In my opinion, Daniel Paille is finally ready to move up. Since he’ll be playing for his contract, you know he’ll bring more finishes to his breakaway this season. Paille would up the speed and be a good fit with Kelly and Soderberg.
When it comes to the fourth line, we all sadly know that the Age of Merlot is over. It’s very likely that Gregory Campbell will be asked to move to the wing to make room for one of two possible candidates for center. It’s going to come down to either Ryan Spooner or Alexander Khokhlachev to fill in that center spot there. While Spooner has more NHL experience than Khokhlachev, the faster Russian could edge out his former Providence teammate for the job. That final wing spot will also be a battle. That race will boil down to either Justin Florek , Matt Fraser, or (I’m serious about this one) Jordan Caron to finish with the final slot.
Then it comes down to who works the hardest to get the consolation prize of being the thirteenth forward. If it comes down to Fraser/Caron or Florek/Caron, Caron will get the nod. If the comes down to Florek/Fraser. I suspect Florek will eek out the slot over Fraser this time around.