With training camp a little less than two months away, the Bruins roster looks slightly different than the one that was eliminated from the playoffs by the Ottawa Senators on April 23rd. One could say we are close to be halfway between the end of the 2016-17 season and he start of the 2017-18 campaign. With some of the roster still to take shape, I’ve done the liberty of giving you a few offseason updates of your favorite team in Black and Gold.
Development Camp a big success: The B’s annual camp for recent draft picks was a big success for a few players looking to an opportunity with the varsity club in the next few years. Anders Bjork who recently signed his entry-level deal a few months back was incredibly impressive and has a natural ability to put the puck in the net. His size might be a concern but as we’ve seen in the NHL this day in age, size doesn’t matter. 2017 First round pick Urho Vaakanainen was very smooth on his skates and wouldn’t be surprised if he challenges for a roster spot next season. Ryan Donato perhaps was the most impressive player during camp and should get a spot on the Bruins roster in the next few years. He’ll return to Harvard this fall.
Colin Miller selected by Vegas: This wasn’t a surprise for me considering the right shot defense depth currently on the B’s roster. With Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo almost guaranteed a top 4 D spot, there wasn’t enough room for Miller to be able to develop further. Yes, Miller is a talented offensive player but he looked overmatched at times in his own zone last season and to me, just didn’t do enough to prove he belonged in Boston for the long haul. Choosing to protect Kevan Miller now gives the Bruins 4 right shot defenseman in their top six. I’m not sold on him playing the left side but it might be the better option than signing an older player that would probably only last a season. Signing another right shot defenseman in Paul Postma was kind of a puzzling choice but it certainly gives them another stable guy on the back end which they’ve really needed at certain points the last few years.
Pastrnak still unsigned: The 20-year old winger set a career-high this season with 34 goals and was truly an incredible talent at times this season. Yes he had a quiet postseason but not every player is a stud in his first postseason. It’s a little concerning to me that Pasta is still unsigned but it’s not necessarily a huge concern as he is a restricted free agent. Don Sweeney said he would match any offer from another team but the idea of Pasta going elsewhere is extremely far-fetched. I would look for the B’s to lock him up for at least six years and six million for a guy who will almost certainly put up 25-30 goals annually. Me personally I wouldn’t go higher than $6.25 million but this deal should be done sometime after Ryan Spooner’s arbitration hearing.
Beleskey, Backes looking for bounce-back seasons: The two high-priced free agents from the last two offseasons left a lot to be desired this past season. Matt Beleskey appeared in just 49 games in 2016-17 and had only eight points. He struggled to stay healthy and to gain really any traction after a successful first season in black and gold. He set a career-high in points his first year in Boston and still has a good enough skill set to get somewhere close to that in 2017-18. The buyout talk surrounding him is a bit premature considering his good first year but if he has another tough season that could be a possibility. He’ll likely get a shot to play alongside David Krejci this season but Beleskey will be on a short leash. After signing a 5 year $30 million contract with Boston last summer, David Backes has a quiet first season with B’s. He did stay relatively healthy which was a concern when he signed but he struggled to get into a rhythm offensively and it really hurt the team in some stretches. At 32 he probably won’t get that much better but it’s important for him to still be a good locker room presence as the Bruins will get a lot younger this season. It’ll be interesting to see where Backes plays in the lineup this year and how he responds to what was a slightly poor season last year.
B’s staying quiet in free agency: With a thin class in terms of free agents, the Bruins really did a good job of not spending too much money on players that wouldn’t fit what they are trying to do. A couple of small, depth deals was smart and with a wave of youngsters coming in, it made a lot of sense to not block their paths to the NHL. The B’s probably still could use another left shot defenseman to possibly play or even just to get some competition going. Signing a player or two to a PTO isn’t out of the question but it looks like the players they have now will be the players they enter the season with. Another forward would make sense as the B’s have lost a few guys to buyouts(Jimmy Hayes) and free agency(Dominic Moore).
This Bruins team is definitely looking good at this point with some younger players with a ton of talent coming in. Anders Bjork will mostly likely win a starting job in training camp and I would say the same for at least two other young guys if the B’s don’t sign an older player. Look for this team to lock up David Pastrnak soon and then probably stay quiet on the free agency front until closer to camp.