By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Hockey season is ‘already’ here.
And with a Jan. 3 start date for 2021’s training camp, the Boston Bruins appear to have a camp roster to their name. This year’s camp will be different in look alone, as you won’t find the B’s 6-foot-9 leader for the last 14 years patrolling the Boston blue line. He’s off to Washington on a one-year deal after passing on the idea of being a “reserve” player for the Bruins. The Bruins believe they have an ‘obvious’ fix for that leadership void, and even Chara agrees with their inevitable pick at captain.
But the rest of the roster? There’s still a ton to be decided there, as confirmed by this training camp roster.
Here’s the roster as we know it, and this post will be updated should more names get added to the list…
Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Anders Bjork, Anton Blidh, Paul Carey, Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Filipe, Trent Frederic, Cameron Hughes, Ondrej Kase, David Krejci, Karson Kuhlman, Sean Kuraly, Robert Lantosi, Par Lindholm, Brad Marchand, Greg McKegg, David Pastrnak, Nick Ritchie, Zach Senyshyn, Craig Smith, Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka, Chris Wagner.
No real surprises here.
The big addition comes with winger Craig Smith. Signed to a three-year, $9.3 million deal after spending the first nine years of his career with the Nashville Predators, Smith arrives to Boston after an 18-goal, 31-point 2019-20 for the Preds. Smith’s 144 goals since 2013 are the 16th-most among all NHL right wingers over that span, while his 972 shots over the last five seasons rank as the 13th-most.
Where Smith plays remains a mystery. His best fit is likely on the third line with Charlie Coyle (his line desperately needs a shooter), but injuries may force Smith into a top-six role with either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci out of the gate.
The battle to watch is on the left side, as you’ll have Anders Bjork, Nick Ritchie, and Trent Frederic battling for two jobs. Frederic and Ritchie feel like fits for the fourth line as Joakim Nordstrom’s replacement (and would give the Bruins more of that Noel Acciari-like presence with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner), while Bjork’s biggest plus going for him right now may be his extended work on the penalty kill, as the B’s will need a replacement for Nordstrom on that front.
Marchand (sports hernia repair last September) has progressed well but will probably be managed throughout camp all the same, while Pastrnak (hip surgery last September) seems likely to stay off the ice as his recovery came with a five-month timeline.
Defensemen: Jack Ahcan, Brandon Carlo, Connor Clifton, Matt Grzelcyk, Steve Kampfer, Jeremy Lauzon, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Nick Wolff, Jakub Zboril.
Well, here’s your first look at a Zdeno Chara-less blue line. The Bruins did not make an additional signing or add someone on a pro tryout either, so this really is going to be the kids’ show out of the gate with Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakub Zboril battling for minutes on the left side of the Black and Gold defense.
The B’s are also bringing NCAA-turned-pros Jack Ahcan and Nick Wolff to Boston.
The 5-foot-8 Ahcan, signed in March, totaled seven goals and 25 points in 33 games for St. Cloud State last season. Wolff, who previously participated in a Bruins development camp, totaled 14 goals and 53 points and a plus-59 rating during his four-season run at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The 6-foot-4 defender played in Slovakia during the NHL’s return-to-play talks, and scored three goals and two assists in 18 games for the Miskolci DVTK Polar Bears.
Goaltenders: Callum Booth, Jaroslav Halak, Tuukka Rask, Jeremy Swayman, Daniel Vladar.
The Bruins will once again roll with the Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak tandem in goal.
The B’s will, however, carry a third goaltender on their taxi squad this year. The only name I’d probably rule out for that responsibility would be Jeremy Swayman, as the Alaska-born netminder is going from the NCAA to the pro game after spending three years at the University of Maine. The Bruins probably (definitely) don’t want Swayman jumping right into NHL mix, nor would they want him wasting away as the No. 3 goaltender on a taxi squad.