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Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 03: Jack Studnicka #23 of the Boston Bruins gets tangled up with Jonas Siegenthaler #71 of the New Jersey Devils during the first period during the first period at the Prudential Center on October 03, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • The decisions are not going to get any easier for Jim Montgomery and the Boston Bruins.

    With a roster now standing at 21 forwards (19 of which are currently healthy and available), 11 defensemen (nine of ’em currently healthy), and four goaltenders following Tuesday’s cuts, the Bruins have just two more warm-up contests to figure out who it is that’ll begin the year on the Big B’s roster.

    Some will require exposure to the rest of the NHL, while others will be able to catch a waiver-free shuttle down to Providence. And one player (Anton Stralman) could simply be told ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and return to his family at the end of his professional tryout with the club, or the player could say that himself.

    So, just who does this dwindling camp roster still include on that front?

  • Forwards

    Dec 11, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Foligno (17) 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 left wing Nick Foligno (17) against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Johnny Beecher: The 2019 first-round pick is definitely looking like a player with a higher ceiling that initially thought. One thing I’ve noticed about him: His defensive details and puck-protection skills. They’re definitely a bit ahead of where I thought he’d be out of the gate. But Beecher also wants to show that he’s more of a scoring threat than his numbers at Michigan indicated, and to do that, it seems like top-six minutes in Providence are on the menu to begin his 2022-23 campaign.

    Patrice Bergeron: The third-year captain knows that he’ll have Jake DeBrusk on his line to begin the season, whether that’s on the left or right wing. Beyond that though, it’s a bit of a guessing game until Brad Marchand’s return. Especially with Pavel Zacha taken away from Bergeron as a result of Taylor Hall looking at a potential week-to-week recovery from his upper-body injury. The Bruins have floated out the possibility of Nick Foligno beginning the year on Bergeron’s wing.

    Charlie Coyle: The Weymouth, Mass. native will once again center Boston’s third line, likely with Craig Smith and Trent Frederic on his wings. One thing Coyle talked about working on this summer: His shot. The Bruins would certainly like to see him utilize that more, too, especially after a 2021-22 season that featured 16 goals (tied for his most since an 18-goal 2016-17 in Minnesota).

    Jake DeBrusk: The 25-year-old’s trade request really does feel like it was a lifetime ago. Projected to be a top-line fixture for the Bruins, DeBrusk, who led the team in goals upon his move to the right of Bergeron last season, has worked on his straight-line speed and knowing when to attack. He had a great shift where he did exactly that last weekend against the Flyers, and was able to draw a penalty out of it.

    Nick Foligno: There’s nothing Nick Foligno can say to make last year’s production look better. On the board with just two goals in 64 games (and at a $3.8 million price tag), he’s aware of the criticism of his game and where many believe it’s trending. But the Bruins gave him an offseason vote of confidence, and Jim Montgomery appears committed to giving Foligno a chance to redeem himself as an ‘identity’ player on the team’s third or fourth line. What happens to Foligno when the Bruins are healthier (if they ever get there) at left wing, however, remains a question lingering over the club.

    Trent Frederic: It appears that Frederic will stick as the team’s third-line left wing out of the gate. Montgomery likes Frederic’s athletic pedigree — the 2016 first-round pick was a standout quarterback and baseball player growing up — and the Bruins are hoping to bring some of those skills out of him with some hand-eye coordination prowess as a net-front threat. Frederic, who can also be an elite nuisance when allowed to walk that line, put up a career-high eight goals and 18 points in 60 games last season.

    A.J. Greer: I’d honestly be shocked if A.J. Greer does not make this team out of the gate. He’s done absolutely everything they’ve asked out of him, and the 6-foot-3 winger seems like a tremendous ‘energy’ player for a fourth line that could always use more of it.

    Taylor Hall: Currently out week-to-week with an upper-body injury sustained last Saturday against the Flyers, there’s some slight hope that Hall could return in time for the start of the season. He’ll skate to the left of David Krejci and David Pastrnak on Boston’s second line when he does return to the ice.

    Joona Koppanen: This one is certainly interesting in the sense that I didn’t think we’d see Koppanen sticking with the Big B’s this late into camp. A 6-foot-5 lefty forward who can play both wing and center, Koppanen has appeared in three games this preseason, and has tallied one assist (a shorthanded one at that), three shots, five hits, two takeaways, and two blocked shots in just over 44 minutes of time on ice.

    David Krejci: The 36-year-old Krejci certainly looked like someone shaking the rust off his hands in his preseason debut last weekend. But the Bruins will certainly get Krejci’s timing down early out of the gate, as he’ll center a line that’s basically gonna be considered their 1B and he’ll log action on their top power-play.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Jack Studnicka (23) during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Jack Studnicka (23) during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Jakub Lauko: On the board with a goal in the preseason opener, the 2018 third-round pick’s confidence seems to be on the upswing following a downright miserable 2021-22 season with Providence. There’s a bit of feistiness in his game, too, which is always welcomed.

    Vinni Lettieri: One of your classic ‘AAAA’ players on a team as deep as the Bruins, the right-shooting Lettieri, who can play both center an wing, looks like a potential ‘first guy up’ type for the Bruins this season. The Bruins will have to sneak him through waivers should he fail to make the team out of the gate. Lettieri put up five goals an 10 points in 31 games with Anaheim last season.

    Fabian Lysell: The Bruins love where Fabian Lysell is trending. The team’s first round pick in 2021, Lysell was dubbed the ‘best player on the ice’ by Jim Montgomery prior to his day-ending injury on a hit from the Flyers’ Rasmus Ristolainen last weekend. They want at least one more look at him against NHLers.

    Brad Marchand: Boston’s top line left wing will not be available for the start of the season as he continues to recover from double hip surgery, but he does have a target date in mind for his return.

    Marc McLaughlin: Similar to Greer, I think the Billerica, Mass. native has become undeniable this camp. He’s doing it all for the Bruins. Positional versatility (we’ve seen McLaughlin play all three forward positions since leaving Boston College for a gig with the Bruins), as well as experience in the penalty-killing game, only helps McLaughlin’s odds of making the team.

    Tomas Nosek: It’s been really hard to get a read on Tomas Nosek’s standing with the Bruins. It hasn’t been a particularly good camp for the veteran Czech, and he’s rarely skated with NHL players. That’s typically not a good sign for your hopes of making the team. But Nosek, who is on the hook for $1.75 million this year, is a lefty-shooting penalty-killing specialist on a team that doesn’t have many of ’em. And the Bruins’ waiving of Oskar Steen, as well as the injuries to Hall and Marchand that’ll bleed into the regular season, may provide Nosek with a ‘stay’ of sorts on the Black and Gold’s NHL roster.

    David Pastrnak: Get the sense that the Bruins really want to get an extension done before the season. They’ve been willing to go reaaaal high (talking ‘franchise-record’ high) to get No. 88 re-signed.

    Craig Smith: Entering the final year of his current contract, Smith is locked in as Boston’s third-line right wing. He scored the fourth-most five-on-five goals on the team last year (16), which was also good for the 64th-most in all of hockey last season.

    Jack Studnicka: The softer-but-still-firm touch of Montgomery seems to be working on Studnicka. After Montgomery chatted with Studnicka after a disappointing debut, Studnicka had made sure to avoid sinking further into the coach’s doghouse. Instead, he put up a two-assist game in his next time out, and has won faceoffs at an impressive 60.53 percent success rate (23-for-38) through three games. It’s hard to envision a scenario in which Studnicka, who requires waivers for the first time in his career, does not make this team.

    Chris Wagner: After spending almost all of last year in the AHL, Chris Wagner is looking like a potential candidate for Boston’s 13th forward role. Part of the reason for that is that Wagner is a classic ‘throw him back in the lineup and watch him create chaos’ type of player. The Bruins saw that firsthand when Wagner was thrown into the mix in the playoffs. But the Bruins have also liked Wagner’s willingness and ability to throw his body around and shift the momentum of a period or game. They saw that when Wagner bodied three Flyers on one shift immediately following the hit that knocked Lysell out of action.

    Pavel Zacha: Just a matter of where the Bruins decide to start Zacha’s Boston career. It’ll be on the first or second line, and likely down to the third like when Hall and Marchand are in action. The Bruins also want to expand Zacha’s penalty-killing game, so expect to see that out of the gate this season.

  • Defensemen

    Oct 4, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril (67) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 4, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril (67) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Jack Ahcan: I think this is going to be the year of the big leap for 5-foot-8 defenseman Jack Ahcan. His confidence both with and without the puck seems to be a pro-career high, and the opportunities to lead Providence’s backend will be there in 2022-23. The Bruins can also shuttle Ahcan back and forth between Boston and Providence without waivers, so that’s a definite plus.

    Brandon Carlo: The Bruins are not going to put Carlo and Lindholm on the same pairing. Another way of reading that: The Bruins want Carlo to take charge and drive his own pairing. Finding Carlo’s perfect left-side partner to bring that out of him, however, remains a work in progress.

    Connor Clifton: Whether or not Clifton begins the year in action or in the press box as the team’s No. 7 defenseman may very well depend on what happens with Anton Stralman.

    Derek Forbort: The 6-foot-4, 219-pound Forbort is going to find himself in the middle of that battle for minutes on the left side at some point, but his penalty-killing status as the left-side rock provides him with some serious job security. The man simply eats pucks for fun.

    Matt Grzelcyk: The good news is that Matt Grzelcyk is ahead of schedule in his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. And though Grzelcyk remains in a non-contact sweater, he’s started to rejoin his teammates at practice, and has really ramped up his on-ice shooting. All good signs.

    Hampus Lindholm: Acquired from Anaheim and immediately given a gigantic bag of money, the Bruins have high hopes for Hampus Lindholm’s first full season in a Bruins uniform. There’s still a bit of a discovery period here, too, as the Bruins are tinkering with Lindholm’s involvement in the power play, and whether or not that’s something he can lead while Grzelcyk and McAvoy recovery from their surgeries.

    Charlie McAvoy: Another high-impact player on the mend, the Bruins are expected to get their Norris-contending defenseman back in action in late November or early December.

    Mike Reilly: Is Mike Reilly playing for a job elsewhere? It feels like a valid question with a crowded defense corps, with Reilly too good (and expensive) an asset to sit as a healthy scratch, and with the Bruins almost certainly needing to make a cap-clearing move at some point in 2022-23.

    Dan Renouf: OK, I’ll admit, I definitely didn’t have Dan Renouf as the last Providence-bound defenseman standing when camp began. But, hey, credit to him after outlasting Victor Berglund, Connor Carrick, Kai Wissmann, and Nick Wolff to still be standing here on Oct. 5. The 6-foot-2, left-shooting Renouf has three assists in 23 NHL games between Colorado and Detroit since 2016.

    Anton Stralman: In camp on a tryout, it’s looking more and more likely that the Bruins are going to sign Anton Stralman to a contract. They’ve spent countless practice days with the 36-year-old skating with Lindholm on what would essentially be the B’s top pairing out of the gate, and Stralman has survived two rounds of cuts. Unless Stralman himself decides that it’s not worth it, he seems likely to join the club.

    Jakub Zboril: The Bruins have called Jakub Zboril a ‘top five player’ in this year’s camp. Limited to just 10 games last year, there’s a lot of hype and hope riding on the 2015 first-round pick finally figuring out what he needs to do to become an impact defenseman at this level. Thus far, he’s looked the part.

  • Goaltenders

    Apr 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) and goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) after their win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) and goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) after their win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

    Kyle Keyser: He’ll be the 1B in Providence.

    Keith Kinkaid: He’ll be the 1A in Providence.

    Jeremy Swayman: He’ll start the year as the likely 1A in Boston.

    Linus Ullmark: He’ll start the year as the likely 1B in Boston.

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