It was a lost season of sorts for the Boston Bruins in 2014-15 and one of the chief complaints of last year was the lack of offensive production and consistent play of some forwards such as Milan Lucic who was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings on Draft Day, and Reilly Smith who was sent to Florida. There are some new faces in this forward group(Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey) and some familiar faces(David Krejci, Brad Marchand) as well. The Bruins hope to shift towards more creative play offensively, while most likely shifting away from a lot of physical play. This team will indeed look very different from last season, here are the forwards that are locks to make the NHL roster next week:
David Krejci: Arguably the most talented offensive player on the roster, Krejci makes the Boston Bruins go. Often times when the B’s struggle, Krejci is out of the lineup which was the case for most of last year as he wasn’t able to stay healthy. Krejci led the 2011 and 2013 playoffs in scoring and when healthy is a dynamic player and should lead the team in scoring if he’s able to stay healthy.
David Pastrnak: Pastrnak has the potential to be one of the most talented players on the Bruins in recent memory. He scored 2 goals in his seventh career game and was pretty consistent the rest of his time with the club. He has the potential to be the next great Bruins goal scorer if he is able to build on the success of last season. The only issue about his game is that he is on the smaller side and he can be shut down with physical play.
Matt Beleskey: Belesky had quite the playoff campaign for the Anaheim Ducks this past postseason and was one of the most sought-after free agents on the market. The Bruins signed him to a 5 year contract worth about $4 million annually. Beleskey uses his size to his advantage and is a good skater. He scored 22 goals in only 65 games last season and looks to build on his breakout season.
Brad Marchand: Marchand dealt with elbow injuries for most of last season but still managed to score 24 goals playing alongside Patrice Bergeron. He was one of the few offensive players that didn’t have a bad season last year. He still plays with that signature snarl which we didn’t see much of last season unfortunately. If he can get back to being that pest he’s known for and still score goals, he could be in store for a special season.
Patrice Bergeron: Bergeron had another strong season that culminated in being a finalist for the Selke trophy which recognizes the best two-way player in the NHL. He led the team in points last season with 55 and was easily the most consistent Bruins player all season. There really is no negative to Bergeron’s game and he should have another good season.
Loui Eriksson: Eriksson was the centerpiece in the Tyler Seguin trade a few years ago but hasn’t lived up to expectations. He scored 22 goals last season with 25 assists which isn’t a bad season by any means but it’s not nearly enough good production for player traded for a once-in-a-lifetime talent like Seguin. Eriksson struggled with finishing at points last season and sometimes left a lot to be desired. He is one of the players that needs to improve for the Boston Bruins to be successful the season and become the superstar player he was in Dallas.
Brett Connolly: Connolly was a trade deadline acquisition last season that nobody knew much about. He was a very high draft pick but injuries caused him to not live up to those expectations. In the few games he did play for the Bruins last season he showed flashes of that talent that made him a top 10 draft pick in 2010. He is a player that should at least score 15 goals this season on one of the most offensively talented third lines in the league.
Ryan Spooner: One of the most highly touted Bruins prospects in recent history, showed his potential with 18 points in 29 games last season. Spooner should be the center on the Bruins third line and will be responsible for being more of a two way forward this season. He will be heavily used on the Bruins power play this season and should help improve one of the weakest units in the league. Spooner has the potential to be at least a 0.5 point per game player this season.
Jimmy Hayes: The Bruins acquired Hayes in the Riley Smith trade and brings much-needed size to the Bruins forward group. He scored 19 goals on the offensively challenged Florida Panthers last season and should improve that number this season playing with more offensively gifted players. He played pretty consistently in the preseason along with Spooner and Connolly and the three of them have developed good chemistry that should carry over into the regular season. Look for Hayes to score 20 goals this season for the Bruins.
Zac Rinaldo: Boston Bruins fans have been cursing his name for many years and now the physical forward will likely be on the Bruins fourth line for this season. He dropped the gloves the other night in the preseason game versus the Rangers and looked like a man possessed which can only mean good things for the Bruins. While not having too much hockey skill, Rinaldo possesses the snarl that was missing from the Bruins for parts of last season. This guy could become a Shawn Thorton clone.
Chris Kelly: While only scoring 28 points for the Bruins last season, Kelly was one of the Bruins best penalty killers last season and is a good grinder. Kelly had been playing on the third line for most of the last few seasons but his niche really is on the fourth line where he’ll be much more effective.
Max Talbot: Talbot had been a glue guy for the Pittsburgh Penguins for many years and was a big part of them winning the 2009 Stanley Cup. He played in 18 games for the Bruins last season. He only had 3 points but that’s not his game, he is a grinder and is one of the best in the game. He will be used a great deal on the penalty kill for the Bruins and should be extremely effective.
These next two players are likely to make the NHL roster as they have still not been sent down to Providence, but there is a possibility they don’t make the roster so this could change.
Joonas Kemppainen: Kemppainen played in Finland for the last few years and has played extremely well for the B’s in the preseason. He is a dark horse contender to be a starter on the fourth line.
Tyler Randell: A 2009 Bruins draft pick that is a serious grinder has had a strong preseason and could sneak into the lineup at any point this season.
Projected Line Combinations: