Going into the season, the Boston Bruins are going to have some problems. Not in terms of off-ice issues to deal with, but in terms of roster decisions.
By the end of the preseason they are going to have to decide who they are going to send some players to the AHL and to spend some time with the Providence Bruins. Some deserving that need more development time, some they just may not have room for on the roster in Boston.
I am not going to talk about specific players here, just general dilemmas they are bound to run into. Here are some of the biggest roster decisions the Bruins will have to make going into the 2023-24 season.
Who are the top two centers?
Okay, obviously this question was coming with the notable losses of Krejci and Bergeron, but this is still the biggest question mark coming into the season.
It’s likely that Montgomery will rely on players like Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha, who have some tenure with the team (even though Zacha’s tenure is only a year long), and at the position. Despite playing on the wing last season, Zacha has always said he preferred playing center.
This will be most likely be a position of shuffling hats in the preseason, and maybe even into the regular season. Definitely something to keep an eye on going into the season.
Who starts in net?
This is a genuinely good debate to start out. Yes, Jeremy Swayman, just won his first arbitration case, but Linus Ullmark also just won his first Vezina Trophy in the offseason.
Ullmark has the veteran status, Swayman has the youth on his side, but both goaltenders had a combined 2.08 Goals Against Average, and a combined Save Percentage of .929. In fact, both numbers were so good, that, according to ESPN.com, they were both in the top four of the league for each individual stat.
It’s likely that head coach Jim Montgomery plays the veteran card at least to start the season, but if he wants to get close to results they had last year, he should rotate the duo. If you really want to look on the bright side, Boston is, perhaps, the team that is set up the best at that position of anyone in the league.
This, however, could put Ullmark over the edge… Who knows…
Who takes the draws on the penalty kill
The power play is a unit that is also in question, but a lot of the moving parts this year were also moving around last year as well, so it’s nothing new for this team.
The penalty kill is a little bit more delicate, and a little more uncertain. The majority of the draws on the circle in 2022-23 season were Bergeron, and Tomas Nosek, the latter of whom has unfortunately departed for the New Jersey Devils.
Given his scrappy nature, there is a chance that Morgan Geekie takes some of the draws, but it is essential that whoever it is, can win the faceoffs, and get the puck back to Brandon Carlo to clear the puck right away.
Who is paired with who defensively?
This, much like the top two centers questions is a tough one to answer, but this one is even tougher because it’s a question of past chemistry vs, current chemistry, and I’m speaking specifically about Hampus Lindholm and Kevin Shattenkirk.
It’s been a few years since they played on the same on the same team, but the fact that they did should say something – at least, you’d think it would.
It’s likely that Charlie McAvoy is going to be on the top line, but who with is another story – especially considering the log jam at defense.