Boston Bruins

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 21: The Boston Bruins celebrate their overtime victory 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)

Things are already off a rough start for the 2022-23 Boston Bruins.

As if last week’s word that Brad Marchand would be unavailable for the first two months of the season didn’t sting enough, Friday came with word of three more surgeries for the Bruins, with Matt Grzelcyk (shoulder, five months), Charlie McAvoy (shoulder, six months), and Mike Reilly (ankle, three months) all on the mend.

The Bruins also lost their skating and skills coach to Jay Pandolfo’s Boston University.

OH, and there’s that whole ‘Patrice Bergeron may retire’ thing hanging over the club.

A fun time, this is not.

But it’s enough to get you thinking, just what do the Bruins have right now?

Or better yet, what would a depth chart of guys signed for 2022 look like right now?

  • Feb 28, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Erik Haula (56) celebrates with center Charlie Coyle (13) his power play goal scored against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at Crypto.com Arena. Coyle provided an assist on the goal. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 28, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Erik Haula (56) celebrates with center Charlie Coyle (13) his power play goal scored against the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

    Centers

    The Bruins’ situation at center remains an issue for this team.

    As of right now, the Bruins have three NHL-caliber centers signed for 2022-23 with Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula, and Tomas Nosek. Now, the good news within that is that Coyle is coming off his best season in five years with 16 goals and 44 points in 82 games, and that Haula proved to be a regular-season fit with Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak with 39 points over his final 53 games of the season (86th-most in the NHL over that span). But this is not the center depth chart of a true Cup threat.  Tomas Nosek, who did not score a goal over the final 50 games of the year, centering your third line would only confirm that.

    Behind their three experienced options at center signed for next year, the Bruins also have Marc McLaughlin and Johnny Beecher as potential options for a fourth-line or bottom-six center role with the club in 2022-23.

    Current center depth chart for Bruins

    1. Erik Haula

    2. Charlie Coyle

    3. Tomas Nosek

    4. Marc McLaughlin

    5. Johnny Beecher

    McLaughlin, a late-season college free agent addition, was a standout two-way center at Boston College, and looked passable in his brief time there at the NHL level this past season, while Beecher (the team’s top pick in 2019) put up three goals and five points in a nine-game tryout run with the P-Bruins to close out his 2022.

    Now, the obvious fix comes with B’s captain and top pending unrestricted free agent Patrice Bergeron. If Bergeron were to come back for another year, the Bruins are basically where they were last year in terms of their center depth. Which is good, but ultimately not good enough if they have aspirations that extend beyond the first round of postseason play.

    Jack Studnicka, at one point considered the organization’s top prospect, is a pending restricted free agent this summer.

  • CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 15: Taylor Hall #71 of the Boston Bruins controls the puck in front of Caleb Jones #82 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period on March 15, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Boston defeated Chicago 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – MARCH 15: Taylor Hall #71 of the Boston Bruins controls the puck in front of Caleb Jones #82 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period on March 15, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

    Left wing

    The devastating blow to the B’s left wing depth chart comes with the double hip surgery that’ll make Brad Marchand unavailable until sometime around Black Friday 2022. Marchand is the heart and soul of this Bruins team, and he’s the engine that gets everybody else moving. To lose him for a little more than 25 percent of the season or so is a massive blow.

    Marchand’s loss could be Taylor Hall’s gain, however, as the former Hart Trophy winner is now atop the B’s depth chart.

    In what was Hall’s first non-injury or trade interrupted season in four years (that’s just insane, but true), the 30-year-old put up a respectable 20 goals and 61 points in 81 games, and proved to have a fit with B’s winger David Pastrnak. The Bruins also tinkered with Hall’s optimal fit on the power play, with Hall adding net-front work to his Bruins resume. Will Hall ever be that MVP-level threat that he was in Jersey? At this roster, probably not. But there’s comfort in knowing his past given what the Bruins will be missing with No. 63 unavailable for an extended stretch.

    But beyond Hall, it’s a whole lot of unknown.

    Jake DeBrusk requested a trade out of Boston last year. It’s unclear if that trade request remains on the table. The Bruins are hoping that he reconsiders (especially with DeBrusk signed to an affordable $4 million per year extension), but DeBrusk himself was non-committal when asked about the request at the end of the season.

    Below DeBrusk, Trent Frederic is going through an identity crisis as an agitator who is clearly unsure of the line he can and cannot cross on the ice, while the Bruins’ preference is for the 2016 first-round pick to be more of a first-round talent in terms of his offensive production and contributions. And Nick Foligno, who is set to make $3.8 million in 2022-23, is coming off a disastrous season from a production standpoint, and there’s a tangible benefit (almost $2 million in freed up space) to buying out the final year of his contract given the Black and Gold’s cap situation.

    Current left wing depth chart for Bruins

    1. Taylor Hall

    2. Jake DeBrusk

    3. Trent Frederic

    4. Nick Foligno

    5. Georgii Merkulov

    Down on the farm, NCAA free agent signing Georgii Merkulov could be a potential dark horse for this team in 2022-23. Signed out of Ohio State, Merkulov recorded a team-leading 20 goals and 34 points in 36 games for the Buckeyes, and added one goal and five points in an eight-game run with the P-Bruins to end the season. Other potential options in the minors include 6-foot-5 forward Joona Koppanen, and 2018 third-round pick Jakub Lauko.

    Anton Blidh is the team’s most noteworthy pending free agent at left wing, but it sounds like he’s a goner.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 23: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins skates down ice against the New York Rangers during the first period at TD Garden on April 23, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 23: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins skates down ice against the New York Rangers during the first period at TD Garden on April 23, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Right wing

    The Bruins’ right wing depth chart still flows through David Pastrnak and without a close second.

    One of the game’s top goal-scoring threats, Pastrnak is entering the final year of his current contract on the heels of another 40-goal campaign, and with the Bruins set to invest (and invest big) to keep him around. And the Bruins are going to need him to go into takeover mode once again when it comes to carrying their offensive game.

    Behind Pastrnak, the Bruins will hope that Craig Smith (16 goals in the regular season and a then a full, seven-game triple donut of 0-0-0 in the playoffs) will have a bounce-back year, and that Oskar Steen can stick as a full-time contributor. Chris Wagner, who spent all but one game of the regular season in the AHL a year ago, is also signed for another season.

    Current right wing depth chart for Bruins

    1. David Pastrnak

    2. Craig Smith

    3. Oskar Steen

    4. Chris Wagner

    5. Fabian Lysell

    The wild card in all of this just may be 2021 first-round pick Fabian Lysell. A dominant force for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL with 22 goals and 62 points in 53 games, and then four goals and 21 points in 12 playoff games, there’s hope that Lysell could be ready to take the leap to the pro game, and there’s no doubt that the Bruins could use that mix of speed and skill.

    Fourth-line energy player Curtis Lazar is the team’s most notable free agent at the position. There’s mutual interest in getting a deal done, but Lazar may have priced himself out of the Bruins’ range with his 2021-22 campaign.

  • Dec 2, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) celebrates with Boston Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort (28) after a goal during the second period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 2, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) celebrates with Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort (28) after a goal during the second period against the Nashville Predators. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

    Defense

    This has to be the most damaged area of the Black and Gold’s roster right now, with both Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy expected to miss the start of the 2022-23 season. In the case of Grzelcyk, a ‘best case scenario’ recovery would see him return to the Boston lineup in early November, while McAvoy is slated to return in early December. Again, those timelines assume that neither player will suffer any sort of setback during their rehabilitation processes. Never a guarantee.

    They’re not the only Boston defenders recovering from offseason surgery either, as Mike Reilly underwent an ankle procedure on June 3, and is looking at a three-month recovery timeline. The good news with Reilly is that a clean recovery should leave him available for the start of training camp and the regular season.

    But boy, does that leave one a blue line of question marks for the Bruins.

    While Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Carlo would become the de facto top pairing for the Bruins, it’s worth noting that the duo didn’t seem to have a ton of chemistry during their limited time together in 2022. That said, the Bruins could take some slight comfort in the chemistry Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton had together as a pairing late in the season and into the postseason, while Jakub Zboril played some of his best hockey playing opposite Reilly on Boston’s third pairing.

    Current defensive depth chart for Bruins

    1. Hampus Lindholm (LD)

    2. Brandon Carlo (RD)

    3. Derek Forbort (LD)

    4. Connor Clifton (RD)

    5. Mike Reilly (LD)

    6. Jakub Zboril (LD/RD)

    7. Victor Berglund (RD)

    8. Michael Callahan (LD)

    As you’d expect when beginning a season down two defensemen, depth appears to be an obvious issue for the Bruins right now, as the Bruins another two injuries away from Victor Berglund or Michael Callahan playing NHL minutes for them.

    Josh Brown’s is the defense’s lone pending free agent at the NHL level, while Jack Ahcan and Nick Wolff are the team’s pending restricted free agents down in Providence. Journeymen defenders Kodie Curran and Tyler Lewington are Providence’s unrestricted free agents on the backend.

  • Jeremy Swayman #1 of the Boston Bruins and teammate Linus Ullmark #35 celebrate a 5-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche at the TD Garden on February 21, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

    Jeremy Swayman #1 of the Boston Bruins and teammate Linus Ullmark #35 celebrate a 5-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche at the TD Garden on February 21, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

    Goaltending

    Probably the most stable position for the Bruins entering the summer, the Bruins know they’re set with the Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark one-two punch in goal. A duo that had their highs and lows in 2021-22 — the ‘lows’ always came one at a time, but never together, which was a hugely important piece to the B’s success — the Swayman-Ullmark tandem will be asked to be the team’s backbone next season given the potential internal losses as well as the injury woes out of the gate.

    Swayman is coming off a rookie campaign that included a 23-14-3 record and .914 save percentage, while Ullmark won 26 of his 38 decisions and posted a .917 save percentage along the way.

    Current goaltending depth chart for Bruins

    1. Jeremy Swayman

    2. Linus Ullmark

    3. Brandon Bussi

    On the farm, Kyle Keyser is a pending restricted free agent but will likely return, assuming No. 1 goaltending duties for the P-Bruins after appearing in a career-high 33 games for Providence last season.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the Bruins do try to pair Keyser with a veteran No. 3 goalie like Troy Grosenick (a pending unrestricted free agent) a year ago, or if the Bruins trust Keyser to shoulder the load and integrate college free agent addition Brandon Bussi (3-2-0 with a .920 in a limited AHL sample last spring) as Keyser’s backup in 2022-23.