Boston Bruins: 3 Options to Replace Marchand if he’s unable to start the season

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 11: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins celebrates his second period goal against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on January 11, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 11: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins celebrates his second period goal against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on January 11, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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If Brad Marchand is not able to begin the season as he recovers from sports hernia surgery in September, here are three in-house choices the Bruins have to bump up to their top line.

In October, the Boston Bruins announced that their two wings on the first line underwent surgeries in September. Left wing Brad Marchand had surgery for a sports hernia and right wing David Pastrnak had surgery on his right hip and labral repair.

Marchand has a four-month time frame to return and Pastrnak has a five-month frame to be back on the ice. With the NHL and NHLPA still in negotiations for the 2020-21 season, it was reported that there would be no announcement in regards to the plans for a regular-season until Friday at the earliest.

With the NHL still targeting a mid-January date to begin the season, that is about the time that Marchy is expected to return. If he’s not able to start the season on time, then the Bruins are left with a couple of options currently on the roster to replace their second-leading scorer from last season.

Jake DeBrusk

This is the obvious choice to take Marchand’s spot next to Patrice Bergeron. In November, the Bruins re-signed the 24-year-old to a two-year bridge deal for $7.35 million.

In three seasons, DeBrusk has scored 62 goals with the Bruins on the second-line with David Krejci. In 2018-19, he scored a career-high 27 goals and last season was on pace for another 20-goal season with 19 when the season was paused in March.

While the jury is still out as to whether or not he can be a consistent goal-scorer, there’s no doubting the talent is there. He is most likely the top candidate to start the season on the top line if Marchand is still unavailable.

Nick Ritchie

In February, the Bruins acquired Ritchie from the Anaheim Ducks and the results were not the greatest. A lot can be contributed to the season pause two weeks after the trade and then the Return to Play was a struggle for just about everyone wearing the Black and Gold.

At 6-foot-2 and 234 pounds, Ritchie brings a physical style to each shift and that cost him in the playoffs with penalties at bad times. He did find the back of the net once in the playoffs. In five seasons with the Ducks, he scored 43 goals, including a career-high 14 in 2016-17.

If Ritchie can be the big-bodied net-front presence that he was in Anaheim and can have better discipline, then there’s a chance he can be the player the Bruins hoped they were getting. As far as being bumped up to the first-line, it’s not out of the question and who knows, maybe he can catch lightning in a bottle.

Anders Bjork

Drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 Entry Draft at No. 146, Bjork set three noticeable career-highs last season that shows signs of hope that he can be a consistent left wing in the NHL.

Related Story. Analyzing and grading the 2019-20 season of Anders Bjork. light

He scored nine goals and had 10 assists on primary the third line in 58 games, while he also averaged 12:56 of ice time in the regular season. Bjork appears to be fully healed from a pair of shoulder injuries that plagued him early in his career.

A bottom-six forward, he has an opportunity in training camp to prove he is healthy and capable of moving up to a top-six role. Can Bjork moe up to replace Marchand on the top line? Who knows. It’s certainly possible. If he can’t overtake DeBrusk, then who knows what he could do next to David Krejci one the second line. The talent appears to be there for him to set new career highs in 2021.

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In the perfect world, Marchand will be ready to assume his role on the top line with Bergeron. If not, then the Bruins will be left with answering the question in training camp as to who is best to be on Bergy’s left side on opening night.