The Bruins start their Centennial season as a crew in transition.
Due to cap restraints, normal supervisor Don Sweeney went into cost-cutting mode over the summer time.
The Bruins traded Taylor Corridor and Nick Foligno to Chicago in late June. Tyler Bertuzzi (Toronto), Dmitri Orlov (Carolina), Garnet Hathaway (Philadelphia), and Connor Clifton (Buffalo) all discovered new properties after hitting the free-agent market in early July.
Boston’s roster took one other important blow after Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci introduced their retirements. Now they enter a brand new 12 months with a patchwork lineup, opting to signal a returning Milan Lucic, one other veteran energy ahead in James van Riemsdyk, and an intriguing bottom-six cog in Morgan Geekie to short-term contracts.
Certainly, the Bruins will face a dropoff after notching 65 wins and 135 factors a 12 months in the past. But, there’s nonetheless purpose for some hope across the Hub following a aggressive coaching camp.
From a brand new captain to the brand new faces, listed below are three causes to be optimistic and anxious concerning the 2023-24 Bruins.
Optimism: The league’s greatest goaltending tandem returns.
David Pastrnak ought to nonetheless pot his share of objectives. But, the Bruins could encounter some points offensively as the brand new and previous faces all through the 4 ahead teams discover familiarity with each other.
However even with the uncertainty up entrance, the Bruins gained’t have any considerations on the final line of protection.
Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman return for an additional season. During the last two seasons, the reigning Vezina winner and fourth-year standout supplied stability within the crease following Tuukka Rask’s retirement.
The Bruins rotated Swayman and Ullmark all through final 12 months’s 82-game slate. However they deviated from that rotation within the first-round collection towards the Panthers, beginning Ullmark within the first six video games earlier than throwing Swayman in a do-or-die Sport 7.
Jim Montgomery will face extra questions on his postseason goalie rotation if or when the time comes. Whereas their numbers may barely dip from final season, the Swayman-Ullmark tandem will seemingly choose up the place they left off.
Concern: The middle depth faces important exams with out Bergeron and Krejci.
For practically a decade and a half, the Bruins relied on a pair of battle-tested veterans to anchor the center of their prime six. However they knew that they’d ultimately enter the post-Bergeron and Krejci period.
Changing a two-way legend in Bergeron and a artful playoff-proven performer in Krejci will take work. For the interim, they’ll depend on expanded roles for Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle amid a transitional 12 months.
Maybe the artful Zacha, a former New Jersey Satan, makes a easy transition to his pure middle place after posting profession highs within the three main offensive statistical classes final 12 months (21 objectives, 36 assists, 57 factors in 82 video games). And possibly Coyle, a dependable third-line staple since coming to Boston on the 2019 commerce deadline, will grow to be greater than a short-term stopgap as he strikes up the lineup.
Matthew Poitras’ spectacular camp might present the Bruins with one other top-six choice. Each Coyle and Zacha supplied some optimism after filling in admirably for Bergeron and Krejci throughout the first 4 video games of the Florida collection.
Whereas there’s promise right here, the Bruins presently enter a time of uncertainty in the midst of the highest six. With a rise within the wage cap subsequent low season, Sweeney could have to attend till the summer time to deal with Boston’s top-six if issues go sideways.
Optimism: Poitras, Beecher, and Lohrei seem primed for full-time NHL function.
Not like earlier years, the Bruins entered coaching camp with a number of vacancies. A trio of prospects, specifically, made the choice course of just a little harder for Sweeney and the entrance workplace.
Poitras and Lohrei excelled after enjoying in a number of capacities throughout the preseason. Barring any uncommon growth, the duo will respectively middle Boston’s third and fourth traces on Wednesday night time.
Beecher can head all the way down to Windfall if he struggles to take care of consistency early within the season. Poitras is just eligible to return to Guelph (OHL) however loses his junior hockey eligibility as soon as he performs in his tenth NHL recreation.
With that in thoughts, Poitras can have one other mini-audition earlier than the Bruins resolve his destiny for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. For now, he enters the season as a well-liked commodity following a formidable camp.
The 19-year-old showcased his poise and a stout two-way skillset during the last three weeks. From his faceoff prowess to his offensive instincts away from the puck, he showcased important development every time he touched the ice.
Poitras will seemingly draw between Geekie and Trent Frederic on the third line. The trio put forth a strong outing throughout the preseason finale, with Poitras and Frederic connecting on a go-ahead aim in Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Rangers.
Beecher developed preliminary chemistry with Lucic and Jakub Lauko. Between Lucic’s snarl and Lauko’s power, the previous Michigan Wolverine gives pace, quickness, and a eager puck-pursuit mentality to enrich the fourth-line wingers.
The Bruins despatched Lohrei all the way down to Windfall on Monday. Lohrei all the time confronted more durable odds of creating the membership because of a veteran logjam on the again finish, however supplied loads of encouraging indicators all through camp. His transitional instincts and two-way prowess will come in useful as soon as Lohrei receives a promotion to the large membership. For now, Lohrei will go right into a top-pairing function with the Child B’s and can solely profit from enjoying over 20 minutes an evening towards fellow NHL up-and-comers.
Concern: The remainder of the pipeline isn’t prepared for NHL minutes.
Past Poitras, Beecher, and Lohrei, the Bruins have restricted choices to select from inside their pipeline.
Fabian Lysell supplied an early spark within the first half of Windfall’s season. However his confidence took successful after he hit a wall whereas representing
his native Sweden finally 12 months’s World Juniors event. The 2021 first-round discovered himself in chase mode throughout his stints of preseason play as he struggled to generate high quality seems and received knocked off pucks as a rule.
Even when Lysell regains his scoring contact in Windfall, he’ll seemingly have to attend till at the least the tip of the 12 months for his first call-up.
Marc McLaughlin, who noticed time with Boston late within the 2021-22 marketing campaign, and Patrick Brown sit close to the highest of the checklist for a possible promotion to Boston’s bottom-six. Brandon Bussi will seemingly make the journey up I-95 if Swayman or Ullmark misses time due to damage. Past that, the potential choices aren’t very engaging for one of many league’s bottom-ranked prospect methods.
Optimism: The management core stays robust.
Bergeron and Zdeno Chara left a footprint that also resonates all through the group. So, it was solely pure for the Bruins to pick certainly one of their lone holdovers from the 2011 Stanley Cup squad as their subsequent captain.
Marchand’s ascension to the captaincy appeared extremely unlikely originally of his profession. However even along with his pair of suspensions within the 2021-22 marketing campaign, Marchand grew right into a management function and overcame his previous popularity stuffed with fines, suspensions and different controversies.
The Bruins will want everybody to fill the huge management void left by Bergeron and Krejci. However they’ve one other core of leaders able to take one other step ahead, together with Pastrnak, Coyle, and Brandon Carlo (to call a number of).
After an unusually record-breaking season, the Bruins will face adversity from the get-go, hoping to avenge their historic playoff collapse amid important roster turnover. Marchand’s expertise and management can solely assist ease a few of the early season tensions following an low season of turnover.
Concern: The Atlantic Division might be powerful.
Frankly, the Bruins are a tough crew to challenge, given the transitional circumstances. Some predictions have Boston ending as little as sixth within the Atlantic, whereas others envision that they’ll preserve a top-three spot in one of many NHL’s more durable divisions.
Contemporary off their run to the Stanley Cup Last, the Panthers hope to springboard from fringe playoff standing to a perennial championship risk.
The high-powered Maple Leafs, contemporary off their first postseason collection win since 2004, nonetheless face questions in web however stay a viable common season membership worthy of sitting atop the division.
The Lightning, who’ve misplaced their final two playoff collection following 11 straight best-of-seven triumphs, could also be taking a look at a shrinking cup window with Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman coming into the ultimate 12 months of their contracts. Their all-world goalie, Andre Vasilivesiky, might be for at the least six to eight weeks following offseason again surgical procedure. However the Bolts gained’t go down simple. And whereas their Cup window could have shrunk a bit, they’re nonetheless worthy of postseason rivalry.
Even with their goaltending and defensive points, the Sabres stayed inside postseason rivalry up till the ultimate week of final season. Devon Levi’s arrival from Northeastern stabilized Buffalo’s goalie scenario. Behind Levi and a handful of developed abilities in Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson, and Owen Energy, the Sabres enter a brand new season with new hope and a sensible probability to snap a 12-year playoff drought.
The Pink Wings and Senators developed a wholesome quantity of prospects and blended in some strong veterans to their respective squads, however are each seemingly on the surface wanting in for a possible wild card spot.
Between the bettering squads and the highest groups, Montgomery’s bunch finds themselves someplace in the midst of a crowded Atlantic Division. Whether or not they keep within the prime three or discover themselves in wild card territory is anybody’s guess.
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