Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Apr 21, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha (18) talks to right wing David Pastrnak (88) during the second period against the Florida Panthers in game three of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially the end of an era for the Bruins.

At least at the center position, anyway, with the retirements of both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci made official with the statement released by Krejci on Monday morning. Based on the way he spoke at break-up day back in May, Krejci’s retirement felt like an inevitability more than anything else, but it does make the changing of the guard official for Don Sweeney and the Bruins, who will have to do anything and everything they can to put together a center-component roster both now and beyond.

Given the ‘all in’ nature of this past season and its fallout with bonus overages destroying Boston’s cap for the 2023-24 season, that’s going to be an on-the-fly situation for the Black and Gold this upcoming season.

And while there’s not like a surefire, absolutely no-doubter option to replace such legends — if the Bruins had ’em, they would’ve been on display by now — the Bruins are a team with a ton of options to their name when it comes to assembling a roster down the middle.

So, who’s in the mix for Sweeney’s club?

  • Charlie Coyle

    Apr 21, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) looks on during the second period against the Florida Panthers in game three of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 21, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) looks on during the second period against the Florida Panthers in game three of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. (Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports)

    Boston’s third-line center since 2019, Charlie Coyle will almost certainly move up into a top-six role in 2023-24. Now, this won’t be the first time that Coyle has done this (the Bruins tried to utilize him as a second-line center to begin their 2021-22 season) and they were forced to turn to Coyle as their No. 1 center during Games 3 and 4 of last year’s first-round series with Florida, but this will certainly be the first time they’ve leaned on him in such a role in anything resembling a full-time span.

    If you want the good news, it’s that Coyle looked the part during that two-game run in Sunrise in Boston’s first-round date with the Panthers. Coyle scored a goal in Game 3, and followed that up with a stellar 15-for-19 afternoon at the dot in Game 4. The bad news, of course, is that that’s a two-game sample. Coyle is going to have to do that for 82 games if he’s filling the shoes of a Bergeron or a Krejci, and Coyle enters this upcoming season with a single-season career-high of 56 points, set back in 2016-17.

    Coyle is coming off a 2022-23 season that included 16 goals and 45 points in 82 games.

  • Pavel Zacha

    Apr 17, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha (18) passes the puck against the Florida Panthers during the first period of game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 17, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha (18) passes the puck against the Florida Panthers during the first period of Game 1 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

    One other almost certainty for the 2023-24 season is that Pavel Zacha will move from left wing to center on Boston’s second line. The Bruins got a taste of this experience late in the regular season and into the playoffs — and Zacha performed admirably in that spot — so this is far from a worst-case scenario sort of fallout for the Bruins. Especially with Hart Trophy finalist and all-world sniper David Pastrnak expected to ride to Zacha’s right as his go-to winger.

    Zacha, acquired from New Jersey last year in a one-for-one deal with Erik Haula, is also coming off what was a breakout year, with career-highs in goals (21), assists (36), points (57), and plus-minus (plus-26) in 82 games with the Bruins last season.

    One thing to watch with Zacha, however, will be his work at the faceoff dot. It’s never necessarily been his strength (he’s been over 50 percent just two times in his seven-year career as an NHL regular), and he finished last season with a 45.3 percent success rate on draws. The B’s will need to see an improvement there if he’s moving from wing to center on a full-time basis.

  • Morgan Geekie

    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MAY 07: Morgan Geekie #67 of the Seattle Kraken looks on before Game Three of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Dallas Stars at Climate Pledge Arena on May 07, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – MAY 07: Morgan Geekie of the Seattle Kraken looks on before Game 3 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Dallas Stars at Climate Pledge Arena on May 07, 2023. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

    The Bruins themselves were not expecting to see Morgan Geekie hit the free-agent market. But once he did, they made him a top priority and they’re hoping that Seattle’s loss will ultimately be their gain.

    Signed to a two-year, $4 million contract, Geekie comes to Boston after a 2022-23 year that saw him shine in a bottom-six role with the Kraken. In fact, Geekie’s 28 points led all forwards who averaged under 11 minutes per game (Geekie checked in at 10:27 per night for Dave Hakstol’s Kraken squad). The Bruins are hoping that an uptick in minute will come with an uptick in points, but they’re also aware that it’s not that simple.

    “[Geekie] won’t be starting 62 percent of the time in the offensive zone with us, so, that will be a change and start from his own zone and being able to defend within our system,” Sweeney said of Geekie back in July. “Skating has always been the knock on Morgan, but we feel that the size and the hockey sense and his puck skill abilities that he’ll be able to integrate into our group well, whether that is in the middle or on the wing and complement our group. Can he play higher than that, again that’s something to be determined and we might get a surprise.”

    Geekie, a right-shot who can play both wing and center, has won over 51 percent of his career faceoffs.

  • Trent Frederic

    Dec 11, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins center Trent Frederic (11) against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 11, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins center Trent Frederic (11) against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

    The Bruins are not sure where Trent Frederic will slot in 2023-24.

    Despite being drafted as a center back in 2016, there’s no doubt that the Bruins have gotten their greatest contribution from Frederic when playing wing, be it either left wing or right wing. But, with those gigantic holes caused by both Bergeron and Krejci retiring, anything is on the table for the Bruins this upcoming season in regards to their lineup. Frederic, meanwhile, is open to moving back to center if it’s what the Bruins want.

    Frederic played some center in Boston’s first-round series (though it’s worth noting that he took just one faceoff while playing center), and is looking to build off a 2022-23 that featured a career-high in goals (17), assists (14), points (31), plus-minus (plus-28), and game-winning goals (six).

  • Patrick Brown

    Mar 9, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Ottawa Senators center Patrick Brown (38) celebrates with the bench after scoring a goal against the Seattle Kraken during the first period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 9, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Ottawa Senators center Patrick Brown (38) celebrates with the bench after scoring a goal against the Seattle Kraken during the first period at Climate Pledge Arena. (Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports)

    Another signing made with depth and versatility in mind, Patrick Brown is coming to the Bruins after splitting last year with Philadelphia and Ottawa, and with four goals and 12 points in 61 games between the two.

    If and when the Bruins lean on Brown in 2023-24, it’s going to be to shoulder some of the faceoff responsibilities vacated by Bergeron, Krejci, and even Tomas Nosek’s departure.

    “Patrick Brown is another really good, detailed player,” Sweeney said. “He kills a lot of penalties. Geekie is over 50 percent [at the faceoff dot]; Brown is well over 50 percent on draws. Chris Kelly had pointed out that if a couple of our centers don’t come back and Charlie Coyle is our only right shot center, then maybe we should address that, and I think Geekie and Brown can do that and Brown can slide over to the wing as well.”

    Brown finished last year year with a solid 52.5 percent mark at the dot, and was even better in 2021-22, with a 58.5 percent mark in 44 games with the Flyers.  And over that span, Brown has won 230 of his 441 faceoffs in the defensive zone (52.2 percent), which is the sixth-most in the NHL among centers with less than 500 total defensive-zone faceoffs over that span.

    The ex-Boston College Eagle is a veteran of 138 NHL games since 2014-15, and with 10 goals and 24 points between stops in Carolina, Vegas, Philadelphia, and Ottawa.

  • Jesper Boqvist

    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 05: Jesper Boqvist #70 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the St. Louis Blues at the Prudential Center on January 05, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. The Blues defeated the Devils 5-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images )

    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 05: Jesper Boqvist #70 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the St. Louis Blues at the Prudential Center on January 05, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images )

    Another depth addition, the Bruins signed Jesper Boqvist to a one-year, $775,000 deal on the heels of what was a 10-goal, 21-point output over a 70-game run for the Devils in 2022-23. Drafted by the Devils with the No. 36 overall pick in 2017, Boqvist comes to Boston with 28 goals and 55 points in 189 NHL games with the Devils since 2019-20.

    The left-shooting Boqvist can play all three positions, which would explain why the B’s were attracted to him in the first place, but center is not a huge strength for him. At least from a faceoff standpoint, anyway, as Boqvist has a career faceoff percentage of just 36.2 percent. That’s actually the third-worst among a group of 198 forwards with at least 700 faceoffs taken over the last four seasons. In essence, he should be considered a center only in break-glass-in-case-of-emergency situations for the Black and Gold.

  • Jayson Megna

    TEMPE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 24: Jayson Megna #7 of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of the NHL game at Mullett Arena on January 24, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    TEMPE, ARIZONA – JANUARY 24: Jayson Megna #7 of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of the NHL game at Mullett Arena on January 24, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    Your classic NHL-AHL ‘tweener’, veteran journeyman Jayson Megna is coming to the Bruins after putting up two goals and eight points in 55 games between the Avalanche and Ducks in 2022-23. The right-shooting Megna also won 52.3 percent of his draws a year ago, and had heavy defensive-zone deployment in both Colorado and Anaheim.

    The 33-year-old Megna has made NHL appearances for five different teams since 2013 (the Penguins, Rangers, Canucks, Avalanche, and Ducks), and has 12 goals and 33 points over that 203-game NHL run.

    Megna has added 121 goals and 251 points in 415 AHL games since 2012.

  • Marc McLaughlin

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 12: Marc McLaughlin #26 of the Boston Bruins skates against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at TD Garden on April 12, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Marc McLaughlin of the Bruins skates during a game against the Blues at TD Garden on April 12, 2022. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Another player with center-and-wing versatility, Billerica, Mass. native Marc McLaughlin remains an option for the Bruins, and this may be his best chance yet given the club’s willingness (borderline need, actually) to incorporate some younger players into their lineup in what will be an undeniable ‘bridge’ year for the club.

    Signed out of Boston College in 2022, McLaughlin put up three goals in 11 games with the Big B’s in 2021-22, but appeared in just two games with the NHL club last season.

    McLaughlin did, however, have a solid year for AHL Providence, with 13 goals and 30 points in 66 games.

  • Johnny Beecher

    VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: John Beecher poses for a portrait after being selected thirtieth overall by the Boston Bruins during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)

    VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JUNE 21: John Beecher poses for a portrait after being selected thirtieth overall by the Boston Bruins during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019. (Kevin Light/Getty Images)

    After three years with Michigan, 2019 first-round pick Johnny Beecher turned pro in 2022 and put up nine goals and 23 points in 61 games with AHL Providence this past season. Given his status as a speedy left-shot center who can also play wing, this upcoming training camp could be an interesting for the New York native. How the Bruins utilize Beecher, namely at center or wing, and who he skates with in training camp sessions, could be telling in regards to his timeline and how factors into the mix for 2023-24.

  • Matthew Poitras

    MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JULY 08: Matthew Poitras is selected by the Boston Bruins during Round Two of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre on July 08, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JULY 08: Matthew Poitras is selected by the Boston Bruins during Round Two of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre on July 08, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    2022 second-round pick Matthew Poitras is certainly the wild card in the mix at the center position for this upcoming season. His stock is on the rise after a 2022-23 OHL campaign that saw him rack up the second-most assists (79) and sixth-most points (95) in the league, and he certainly popped at last month’s development camp. But his age means that it’s either NHL or back to the OHL for the 5-foot-11 center.

  • Brett Harrison

    MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 21: A detailed view of the Boston Bruins' logo is seen during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. The Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    A detailed view of the Boston Bruins’ logo on a player’s sweater during a game. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    The No. 85 overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft, Brett Harrison is set to embark on his pro career following an OHL run that’s included 82 goals and 167 points in 180 games between Oshawa and Windsor. The Bruins believe that they’ll begin Harrison’s career on the wing versus center, but the 6-foot-3, 184-pounder is a natural center.

  • John Farinacci

    EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 04: John Farinacci #25 of the United States celebrates a goal against Finland during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship semifinals at Rogers Place on January 4, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

    EDMONTON, AB – JANUARY 04: John Farinacci #25 of the United States celebrates a goal against Finland during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship semifinals at Rogers Place on January 4, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

    The latest addition to the franchise, center John Farinacci joins the Bruins organization after a strong three-year career at Harvard University.

    A 6-foot-2 right-shooting center, Farinacci recorded 25 goals and 61 points in 79 games with the Crimson from 2019 through 2023. Farinacci’s 2022-23 campaign included five goals and 19 points in 20 games, as Farinacci dealt with a herniated disc that ultimately required surgery and prevented him from making his season debut until Jan. 13.

    The nephew of former Bruins center Ted Donato and cousin of ex-Bruins wing Ryan Donato, Farinacci considers himself as a two-way center who can excel in any role he’s thrown into. Farinacci also cites Patrice Bergeron as a player he’s tried to emulate as a hockey player.

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