State of the Bruins: Forwards

Patrice Bergeron: Easily the best and most complete Bruins player, Bergeron had another strong season as he put up 68 points to lead the team. Bergeron is definitely the B’s most important player and is one of the most respected players in the entire league. Perhaps just as impressive is his defensive game which is the most valuable part of his game considering the B’s issues on defense. Expect Bergeron to lead the team in scoring once again, possibly reaching 70 points. Really the only negative to his game right now is his age but he still has at least 3 more elite seasons left.

Brad Marchand: The Little Ball of Hate had the best season of his career last year with 37 goals and 61 points. He definitely overachieved in the goal department but his offensive game was greatly improved but one of the main offensive issues with the team was a lack of secondary scoring. This lead to the B’s relying on their top scorers to get the job done without much help. Marchand was not part of the problem but if the Bruins are expecting him to score 37 goals again, they’ll run into the same problem. Obviously it’s a good thing if Marchand can be as good offensively as he was last season, but the point here is they need to be more balanced. Expect at least 28 goals from number 63 this season.

David Backes: The Bruins big acquisition this summer had another solid season in St. Louis with 21 goals and 24 assists. But Backes really shined in the postseason with 14 points in 20 games as he led the Blues to the Conference Finals. Backes brings grit and toughness to a Boston team that has missed that the last two seasons. Backes is 32 which is a valid concern, but it’s worth the risk for a team that is desperate to make the postseason. One of the best attributes Backes has is his versatility, the Bruins can put him on the first line with Bergeron and Marchand or match him on the second line with David Krejci. I’d expect Backes to have a very good plus/minus and roughly 50-55 points.

David Pastrnak: The B’s most talented prospect struggled to stay healthy last season but showed great flashes when he was healthy. He is easily the most offensively gifted player in Boston since Tyler Seguin and Cluade Julien really needs to let him loose and show what he can do. The Bruins had a very strong power play last season, but imagine how good it could be with Pasta manning one of the points or coming off the half-wall. He’s one of the youngest players in the league still but the Bruins really can’t afford to bring him along slowly. They need to take more chances offensively and Pastrnak is the perfect player to do that with. If everything goes well for 88 this year, he might challenge for 25 goals.

David Krejci: Number 46 was a part of many trade rumors this offseason but he remains with the B’s. He is recovering from hip surgery this offseason with his return being unclear at this point. The Bruins should still be open to trading him as he still is a very skilled player and could yield a great return. But, there’s no doubt how important he is to the team and often times the Black and Gold go as he goes. The points leader from the 2011 and 2013 playoffs ended up with 63 points last season, second on the team. At this point he is still with the Bruins but there’s still a decent chance he gets dealt before the season starts.

Matt Beleskey: Beleskey started slowly after signing a five-year deal with the B’s last offseason but ended up having a solid season with 15 goals and 22 assists. He actually set a new career high in points last season, playing in 80 games. If he can start fast this season, it will only mean good things for this squad. Beleskey is a physical presence who goes to the net hard and is not afraid to drop the gloves. Beleskey is one of those guys that needs to step up in the goal department to take pressure off of Bergeron and Marchand. He certainly has the potential to as he scored 22 goals for Anaheim two seasons ago.

Jimmy Hayes: Hayes drew the ire of many B’s fans last season and rightfully so. He failed to be a great net-front presence and at times looked disinterested on the ice. There were rumors early in the offseason of the Bruins potentially buying out Hayes. Hopefully, that sends a message to him that his poor play won’t be tolerated. The Bruins need him to perform this season and if not he’ll probably be traded. I would expect rather similar numbers from Hayes this season and hopefully he can limit the turnovers.

Ryan Spooner: The Bruins expected big things from Spooner last season and he didn’t really deliver as he struggled big time defensively and seemingly disappeared late last season in terms of his offensive numbers. The Bruins need to show him they are confident in him and trust him to make the right decisions. He couldn’t seem to handle centering the third line last year and was often demoted to playing the wing. Despite these issues he was able to put up 49 points. Expect these numbers to improve slightly this season and also expect the B’s to give Spooner more responsibility.

Riley Nash: Coming over from Carolina via free agency, Nash is a pure grinder and should bring some added toughness to the lineup. Expect him to be a guy who can play on either the 3rd or 4th line. I would expect him to be very similar to Chris Kelly in terms of production but minus the age and cap hit. This was a very good underrated signing for the B’s.

Tyler Randell: Randell didn’t play enough for me to have a thought about him fitting in to this Bruins team. But I would expect him to be up with the big club quite a bit as he does have some good potential. It would be ideal for the Bruins to play him on the fourth line and see what he can do.

Frank Vatrano: Expect big things from Frankie V this season as he’ll mostly likely get more of an expanded role. The Bruins would like to see him balance his game a little more but expect him to have an outside shot at 20 goals with enough playing time.

Noel Acciari: Acciari was very solid in his 19 games with the B’s last season but expect him to have a great shot at a roster spot this year with that experience. Acciari has a good skill set and should see good minutes on the fourth line and potentially the penalty kill.

Zac Rinaldo: I seriously doubt he makes the team but there’s a shot if someone gets injured. He was an absolute disaster for the B’s last season and probably one of the worst signings in recent history. So much if a disaster he was suspended by both the AHL and NHL for dirty hits.

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