Well the Bruins have remained fairly quiet the last three weeks. Most media attention has been on the many Bruins and Staffers accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge. Everyone from Jeremy Jacobs to include Cam Neely and Claude Julien and almost all of last seasons player roster has accepted the challenge and posted videos of their personal challenges.
On another note, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Torey Krug remain unsigned one month from the start of pre-season camp that starts on September 18th. I'm sure by now that the new season meetings have started for the managers and coaching staffs of both the Bruins and P-Bruins. I am expecting roughly 55 skaters in camp assuming the 3 RFA's are signed by then. Question marks heading into camp include 3 vacancies available on the right wing and the back-up goaltender position. I expect the goaltender position to be won by Niklas Svedberg while getting pushed by new Bruin Jeremy Smith. Should Reilly Smith re-sign I expect him to capture one of the right wing spots. There are many questions about who may play where, perhaps creating additional spots to be competed for. I believe serious competition may play out for Chris Kelly's and Adam McQuaid's spots on the roster. No matter what happens, serious consideration to filling those spots will be impacted by the Salary Cap. This may be the year you see expected veterans moved for financial considerations.
Some other considerations are the coming free agencies of David Krejci, John Boychuk, Dan Paille and Greg Campbell coming into next season. So with an eye to the future, I expect a lot of P-Bruins to get a cup of coffee with the big club during the season. Some players Like Carl Soderberg, Matt Bartkowski, Kevan Miller and Niklas Svedberg will also be free agents next year and must establish their value to the team over the course of the regular season. What to see or expect? Lets talk a little about the Bruins strengths. Tuukka Rask is the longterm number one goaltender. Zdeno Chara will almost certainly finish his contract in Boston. I expect Patrice Bergeron to remain safe as well for the next 4-5 seasons and Dennis Seidenberg if he remains healthy. Right now the Bruins seem to have tremendous depth at the blue line 4-5 deep into Providence. Goaltender looks strong as Malcolm Subban appears to be the the goaltender of the future. We have a nicely aged/experienced group of forwards. Spots are available and hard choices and decisions will be made and I expect some popular players will be moved here and there as we progress through the season and into next summer. The Bruins also have a number of excellent prospects that will be moving on from US college ranks and a couple might be ready to make the jump into meaningful roles for the start of next season.
The Kevin Hayes derby is by now in high gear and while I believe the Bruins are in the mix, but I don't expect them to land his services. Simon Gagne has been invited to camp and while I understand how he adds to the competition in camp, I don't really see his value on this team unless we fail to land Smith and Fraser to contracts and what do we do against the cap if we do sign him, you have to pay him. Then how do you fit new contracts for Smith and Fraser when the space is gone? You would have to move a roster player you may need or want to keep. Frankly with knee and concussion issues of the past and losing a few steps, a 34 year old left wing that's a floater and not defensively sound doesn't make any sense on this team. Maybe in Nashville or Phoenix, but not in Boston. The next question is, if the Bruins move up Loui Eriksson to the Krejci line, do you augment Soderberg with Paille and Campbell? or build a new third line around him and augment Campbell's line with a rookie. If you do move them up, do you built a new energy line with rookies and what kind of ice time do they get as they prove themselves?
Having not started camp, if I were wearing the GM hat I would make some moves. I'd try to move Kelly and McQuaid for cap relief. Sign Krug and Smith for $2 million a piece for 2 years each as a bridge contract. Offer a two way contract to Fraser with a bonus for so many games played and 20 goals or 30 points. If I only got draft picks or AHL talent for Kelly and McQuaid I would be happy. Ryan Spooner, Alex Khokhlachev and Justin Florek would be my fourth line or Paille, Campbell and Florek. Third line would be Krug, Soderberg and Fraser or Paille, Soderberg and Campbell. If I signed Hayes, I'd try him with Krejci and Lucic, Leaving Eriksson with Soderberg. I forgot to mention that I'd trade away Jordan Caron for a bag of pucks and a season pass on the MBTA. My 13th forward would depending on configuration, be Spooner, Fraser or Campbell. The defense if Krug was signed and moved up to wing would be Chara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, Hamilton, Bartkowski, Miller and David Trotman as the seventh defenseman. Good thing I'm not the GM as I may be forcing issues for Julien. That's as I see it now, the future and professional hockey personal will prevail on something quite different I'm sure.
Until Next Time!