Boston Bruins: Which forwards make the team?


Apr 26, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins right wing

Jordan Caron

(38) battles for the puck with Detroit Red Wings goalie

Jonas Gustavsson

(50) and left wing

Drew Miller

(20) during the first period in game five of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the Boston Bruins went through another round of cuts. The Bruins have gone 2-2-1 in the preseason so far, and their play has been a little disappointing so far. Sure, there are players who are coming back from injuries and there are players playing on new lines, and no one is one hundred percent just yet. (Well, maybe Patrice Bergeron is, but that’s more of a genetics thing.) The Bruins cut players that were expected to make the squad.   Alex Khokhlachev had a less than stellar training camp, and his departure was unexpected. Justin Florek could also be ready for the NHL next season.

Ryan Spooner’s departure was the big surprise. He seemed to fit what Peter Chiarelli was looking for in a faster more skilled line. On the other side, Claude Julien openly called him a “defensive liability” and saw Spooner as the antithesis of what he wanted in the fourth line. (Essentially, the Merlot Men…but with a slight tweaking.) With Spooner’s departure, there are now six available players in competition for the two (if you include Gregory Campbell, then three) available slots on the B’s roster.

Here are the six finalists and they are listed in order of their chances to make the 2014-15 roster.

 Matt Fraser: Of the six, he’s got the best chance to make the team. The Bruins need someone with his goal scoring ability on this roster, especially after losing Jarome Iginla.  He has good speed, his puck handling skills are solid (David Krejci even praised him in front of the media.), and he can be a playmaker as a bottom six forward. While some people still lament the trade of Tyler Seguin, Matt Fraser can certainly tip the advantage of that deal back towards Boston with a solid performance this season.

Jordan Caron: I’m serious. He has played this preseason as if possessed. He had an outstanding game against the Washington Capitals. It was one of his better performances in a Black and Gold uniform. He can be a player that soaks up minutes on the fourth line. His skating has been a bit choppy, but he’s shown improvement. He’s brought a little more (and a lot of people hate this word) ‘grit’ to his game, and it may have improved his chances in the eyes of Coach Julien.

David Pastrnak:  Pastrnak’s biggest reason for being this far down the roster list is he’s still an unknown. He looked good in rookie camp, he made solid strides early on in training camp, but got taken out by a hard bump by Matt Bartkowski and has only recently returned to the ice. The B’s will need to give him some ice time in the next two preseason games. If the B’s give him ice time, he’ll have a chance to move up this list. If they don’t, he’ll be heading back to Sweden where hopefully he’ll put on ten pounds of muscle.

Simon Gagne: Simon Gagne got an invite to the team on the suggestion of Patrice Bergeron. (That alone speaks to Bergeron’s potential post-hockey influence.) Gagne has fourteen seasons in the NHL, and could certainly bring that veteran presence in the locker room. The problem is his career is riddled with injuries. Signing an older player that is so injury prone has to be a red light for the Bruins organization. The Bruins were hoping for a lot out of Loui Eriksson, but two concussion set him back and stifled his play. The B’s could be looking at a similar situation with Gagne.

Craig Cunningham: As Gagne’s invitation came from Bergeron, Cunningham’s shot with the Bruins came via Milan Lucic. They played together in the minors for the Vancouver Giants. Cunningham has solid talent as well, as his willingness to buy into the NHL Bruins has raised his stock. Like Spooner and Khokhlachev, Cunningham may have to wait a year to get another chance to make the Boston squad.

Bobby Robins: While he’s certainly the dark horse on this list, he has made an impression in the pre-season. This journeyman AHL player has made his strongest effort to make the Boston roster and he just might do it. If Claude Julien gets his way, and the Bruins only tweak the fourth line, he’s in. He brings a massive physical presence to the game.  He’s a known quantity as an enforcer.  If the Bruins have remorse over letting Shawn Thornton, they would get a similar package in Robins.

We’ll find out when the Bruins start the regular season next week.