Projecting the Boston Bruins opening day roster

BOSTON - APRIL 19: Boston Bruins' Bruce Cassidy gives instructions on the bench during a time out against the Ottawa Senators during the third period. The Boston Bruins host the Ottawa Senators during Game Four of the first round of the NHL Playoffs at TD Garden in Boston on Apr. 19, 2017. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 19: Boston Bruins' Bruce Cassidy gives instructions on the bench during a time out against the Ottawa Senators during the third period. The Boston Bruins host the Ottawa Senators during Game Four of the first round of the NHL Playoffs at TD Garden in Boston on Apr. 19, 2017. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) /

Preseason is over and the puck drops for real this week.  Rosters are due on Tuesday..what will the Boston Bruins look like to start the season?

The NHL season starts this Wednesday, October 4, with four games on the docket.  More importantly for our readers, the Boston Bruins start their season the following night.  On Thursday, October 5, the hometown Bruins will play their season opener at home against the defending Western Conference champion Nashville Predators.

This offseason and preseason was chock-full of drama when it came to the how the roster would look this upcoming season.  Ryan Spooner had to file for salary arbitration to lock in his new deal.  The David Pastrnak contract stalemate lasted all the way into training camp.  Rookies and young guns have made strong pushes to be in the lineup.  It has been several months of speculation, and the time is finally here.

The Bruins’ young prospects have made certainly things difficult for the organization.  Head coach Bruce Cassidy, in his first full season as coach after replacing Claude Julien in February, has about 12 players vying for 6-7 forward spots coming out of training camp and the preseason.  Not to mention, a decision about who will temporarily replace the injured Torey Krug on the blueline to start the season.

Overall, it’s a pretty good problem to have.  It bodes well for both the big club and the affiliate Providence Bruins that so many players in the organization are demonstrating that they are NHL-ready, or at least on the precipice of being NHL-ready.

So, the big question is, with rosters due to the league tomorrow, who’s going to stick in Boston, and who’s going to be leading the team down in Providence?

No questions asked

Boston Bruins
BOSTON, MA – MARCH 23: Brandon Calro /

This is simple.  There should be no arguing that the following players have locked up their spots in Boston:

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Forwards:  Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner, David Backes

Defenseman:  Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo, Torey Krug (injured), Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Charlie McAvoy

Goalies:  Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin

That would leave the Bruins with 6 forwards, 6 defenseman (one injured for about the first week), and 2 goalies, or 14 players.  Given that the Bruins will need a 23-man active roster, that leaves room for 9 more spots to be filled (7 forwards, 2 defenseman), which will round out the team at 13 forwards, 8 defenseman, 2 goalies.

As a disclaimer, the reason I have 8 defensemen rather than 7 is because of Krug’s injury, I think the team should have an extra defenseman, rather that scratch two forwards who could use the experience in Providence.  I expect that will change when Krug is healthy again, and the team will only carry 7 defenseman and 14 forwards.

Who else makes the cut?

As I said previously, the young players really showed up this training camp and preseason, making the decisions tough on the front office and coaching staff.  A case could reasonably be made for nearly every player who suited up for the Black and Gold in training camp to get a roster spot in Boston.

Based upon how they played during the preseason (and last season for some), here’s who I think makes the final opening night roster:

Forwards:  Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Beleskey, Tim Schaller, Riley Nash, Noel Acciari, Sean Kuraly

Defensemen:  Paul Postma, Matt Grzelcyk


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BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 25: Boston Bruins left wing Anders Bjork (10) moves past Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy (5) during a preseason game between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks on September 25, 2017, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Anders Bjork, the rookie out of Notre Dame, appeared to seamlessly transition from the college hockey ranks into the NHL game.  He showed poise with and without the puck, and almost instantly clicked with Marchand and Bergeron.

Jake DeBrusk, coming off a solid first year of professional hockey in Providence, came into camp chomping at the bit for a roster spot.  While he had his up-and-down moments, he showed some great offensive flashes with Krejci and Pastrnak.  Given that Bruce Cassidy has indicated he may pair up the two Czech teammates as he did this preseason, rather than play Pastrnak with Marchand and Bergeron, the Czech duo needs a third linemate.

Matt Beleskey…what to make of you?  Obviously, a disappointing season last year, with injuries and difficulty showing up on the score sheet.  However, he skated well in the preseason, playing up and down the lineup.  Is he going to be a first or second line guy?  No, but can he be effective playing third line minutes and being a net-front presence on a power-play unit?  Absolutely.

The Tim Schaller-Riley Nash-Noel Acciari combination was a very effective 4th line for the Bruins last season.  Somewhat reminiscent of the Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton line from earlier in the decade.  Acciari likes to throw his body around, and Schaller and Nash are a formidable duo defensively, hence why they often appear on the penalty kill together.

Sean Kuraly has had an impressive preseason, and his efforts did not gone unnoticed by the Bruins coaching staff.  Cassidy previously stated:

"“We like where Kuraly’s game has been as far as what he brings: Energy and the ability to turn pucks over. It has really turned into a lot of offense, but we believe that it will over time as he continues to play like that.”"


Paul Postma has NHL experience.  Early in the season with a roster full of young players, that is a premium.  He was one of those players that didn’t seem to wow anyone in the preseason, but I also didn’t see him making mistakes.  He did his job out there, and with Krug hopefully coming back soon, that’s all the team really needs at this point.

Matt Grzelcyk can provide some offensive spark from the blue line.  Considering the player that needs replacing the Bruins best offensive defenseman.  He appears to fill more of the teams immediate need, and can be called on if the Bruins stumble out of the gate.

Next: Should the Bruins Re-Sign Stafford?

Who does that leave out?

Forwards: Peter Cehlarik, Austin Czarnik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Danton Heinen, Frank Vatrano

Defensemen: Emil Johansson, Rob O’Gara, Jakub Zboril, Tommy Cross

Goalies:  Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, Dan Vlader

Like I said, nearly every one of the forwards could arguably have made this team as a 3rd or 4th line player.  Each players brings a little something different to the table.  I would be shocked if most of these guys don’t find themselves in Boston at some point during the season as an injury call-up.  I’d also be surprised if the Providence Bruins don’t make a serious push for the Calder Cup this upcoming season, given the talent pool on the team.

Projected lines

Marchand – Bergeron – Bjork
DeBrusk – Krejci – Pastrnak
Beleskey – Spooner – Backes
Schaller – Nash – Acciari
Kuraly (scratch)

Chara – Carlo
Miller – McAvoy
Postma – McQuaid
Grzelcyk (scratch)
Krug (injured)