Boston Bruins: State Of The Forward Core And Goalies
The Bruins core of forwards and goalie tandem are nearing completion, and look pretty sturdy. Here’s a rough picture of what the forward core could look like, keyword is could.
Marchand ($4,500,000)-Bergeron ($6,875,000)-Vatrano ($792,500)
Spooner ($950,000)-Krejci ($7,250,000)-Pastrnak ($925,000)
Beleskey ($3,800,000)-Backes ($6,000,000)-Hayes ($2,300,000)
Randell ($600,000)-Acciari ($792,500)-Nash ($900,000)
There are others who could slot in like Danton Heinen, Sean Kuraly, Austin Czarnik and Seth Griffith; it’s really a guessing game at this point. Which isn’t a bad thing, it just means there is a lot to choose from. There’s a chance that guys will have to slot in on their off wings. Adjustments may need to be made if they want to make the big club.
Brad Marchand is due for a raise soon. After breaking out and recording a career best 37 goals and 61 points in 77 games. He has had great chemistry with Patrice Bergeron in the past and really anyone who plays on the opposite side of him. Not only can he produce offensively he really knows how to get under the skin of his opponents. Marchand is a very important cog on this Bruins team and he should be paid as such.
Patrice Bergeron does so many things right, there’s not much you can knock him for. He actually just turned 31 today, Happy Birthday Bergy. He’s the heart of the team and plays so well in all three zones. Not to mention he is a three-time Selke trophy winner as a result of his defensively play as a forward. Bruins fans love Bergy.
Frank Vatrano‘s role will most likely depend on what position David Backes will play. Backes seems to be content with being a third line center, so that opens up options for Vatrano. Will he play on the right side with Bergeron and Marchand or on the left side on the second or third line? Regardless, let’s hope he can carry his prolific scoring with him from Providence in the future.
Ryan Spooner may be another player who will need to play a different position with the addition of David Backes. The idea of Spooner moving to the wing and possibly playing with David Krejci and David Pastrnak is something that could at least be experimented and work out in the long run. Spooner played on the wing at times throughout the 2015-2016 season, so we’ll see.
David Krejci had offseason surgery on his left hip, which is a reason for concern for some. When he is healthy he will continue to serve as a top 6 center and will suffice just fine. His hip is something to monitor though, now at 30 years old. His hockey sense, playmaking abilities and discipline are big factors in the B’s success.
David Pastrnak could be poised to breakout this year; he has for sure shown signs of great skill and prowess. The thought him and Krejci setting each other up this year could be quite a sight. For a young guy, he has shown at times that he can handles the rigors of NHL opponents and will need to continue that as he strives for consistent top 6 minutes.
Matt Beleskey is also recovering from offseason surgery on his left hand. Beleskey had a pretty good first year with the Bruins after serving mainly as a bruiser for much of his career. He notched career highs in games played (80), assists (22) and points (37), while scoring 15 goals in the process. His physical presence has not diminished since he started producing more offensively, which only adds to his value to the team.
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Whether we will see David Backes taking draws or playing the wing has yet to be seen, but Bruins fans should be excited to watch Backes in black and gold. His veteran presence and leadership will be felt as well, which doesn’t hurt. Sure, it can be argued that he was overpaid and maybe given too long of a deal, but UFA’s don’t always come cheap. This was apparent in many other deals this summer given to some former Bruins for example, Loui Eriksson and Milan Lucic.
Jimmy Hayes needs to be better this year and playing with Backes and Beleskey could do that for him. Backes and Beleskey are guys that effectively use physical play to throw off their opponents and create chances for their team. Hayes was found at times playing a little soft, if Backes and Beleskey can rub off on him and make him use his 6 foot 5 frame properly, that trio could be a menacing line to play against.
Tyler Randell is the prototypical Bruins-style fourth liner with some scoring touch. Randell is another guy who may be forced to play the off wing. If there is a spot, give it to him, he needs a bigger sample size than 27 games in order to grow. He’s not afraid to play the body and drop the mitts against guys that are not novice fighters, guys like Cody McLeod, Ryan Reaves and Eric Nystrom and holds his own.
Noel Acciari is another guy who likes to hit and is a good fourth liner for the time being. He has character and leadership experience, as he played a big role in Providence College’s national championship season in 2014-2015. The ex-Friar earned praise from Claude Julien for his defensive zone play and how he fit well with the players he was skating alongside on the fourth line.
Riley Nash is a newcomer who should be a bottom six piece for the price you have him for. Getting 9 goals and 22 points in 64 games from a bottom six guy is pretty decent. Nash is accustomed to playing wing and center which never hurts. He is a solid depth signing for the B’s.
As of now, Tuukka Rask is still the head honcho in the Bruins crease amidst trade rumors floating around here and there. Unfortunately, Don Sweeney hasn’t acquired a high end defenseman to help him out a little more. Tuukka has performed better with better defense in the past, but it looks like he will have a similar defense in front of him. Be confident that he can perform like he has in the past and get back to the old Tuukka.
Anton Khudobin returning to Boston was a welcome sight to many Bruins fans. He isn’t the best goalie, but he fit well as a Bruins backup goalie in the past and with the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild and Carolina Hurricanes NHL and AHL organizations.
All in all, this core of Bruins forwards and goalies are not looking all that bad. They could very well change before the regular season begins however, as well as throughout the season as it progresses.