UNDER preforming is an UNDER statement. Truth be told, and I will speak for my fellow Bruins fans that we aren’t happy about the current situation of the team. On second thought, we’re actually pissed off that a team with this much talent is shitting the bed on a nightly basis.
Excuses, excuses. I’m done with them from the front office. If we are a championship contender and signing veteran experienced free agents like we have in years past (Matt Beleskey and David Backes) then stick too it. Play with big leaguers. No more using the baby B’s as spackle when we have a massive whole in the team. Pastrnak was one thing. He came in as a top pick and killed it outside of the team in Juniors and WCH play, he IS an NHL player at 19. I mean calling up and playing every Joey Bag-of-donuts from Charlestown time and time again when we have an injury and expecting him to come up and be Mark Recchi for this team.
The Bruins have elite players in Patrice Bergeron and Marchand. David Pastrnak appears to be emerging as an elite scorer in the league. David Krejci has proven that he can be serviceable as 2nd line center as long as he can play with talented wings. We have brought in players that show we are committed to winning, in veteran offseason acquisitions. We are amidst our championship window with Marchand/Bergeron/Krecji. We must either truly commit to winning and add the necessary pieces to get there or rebuild completely.
Sad, sad world we live in, because the Boston Bruins have enough pieces on both sides of this argument and I honestly believe that management is torn between going for it all or tearing down to the ground.
Let’s address two things:
- The Bruins have done a good job brining in young talent to the organization. Whether they are still playing in the NCAA or major juniors. We have promising young bodies under our control.
- The Bruins have the ability to compete in the East if they figure out their issues. You won’t be fighting with the Washington Capitals for the Presidents Trophy but you’ll be a team that gets past the first round of the playoffs.
Be honest, as a Bruins fan that is all you can hope for in this team year in and year out. Be competitive and get there, gain confidence in this team that those guys can play their best when it matters most.
1. Young Talent
Something that goes unnoticed is the massive crop of youngsters this team has at their disposal. Aside from Brandon Carlo who is already up on the team and contributing we have a pleather of defensemen coming up that are poised to make NHL rosters.
- Jakub Zboril: this Czech d-man was taken by the B’s with the 13th overall pick in 2015. He is credited by eliteprospects.com as, “a smart, fleet-footed two-way defenseman that plays to his strengths in all three areas of the ice…Could end up being that home-run pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Few holes in his game. A low-risk, high-reward type of player.” He is performing for his current club the Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) 22 points in 28 games (6 goals, 16 assists). Zboril also played for the Czech Republic in the World Juniors tournament.
I believe the Jakub Zboril will be the star that emerges from this current group of prospects. He will help shape the defensive core that is massively lacking an identity. As a “fleet-footed” skater he will add speed to what has become a sit at home and struggle to keep up core. In a perfect world, when the Zboril is a contributor to the B’s blue line and can contribute in a top-4 role, but not right away.
Aside form Zboril, the Bruins harbor another young d-man that is showing a lot of promise in his current role: Jeremy Lauzon.
A 2nd round pick in 2015, Lauzon plays for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. Bearing the “C” for the team, Lauzon is contributing regularly with 13 points in 18 games (2 goals, 11 assists). In addition, Lauzon was an anchor for the Canadian World Juniors team adding 2 goals in their 7 games.
These two 19 year old defensemen have NHL potential. In addition to Zboril and Lauzon the Bruins have noted promise in:
- Rob O’Gara
- Matt Grzelcyk
- Linus Arnesson
- Emil Johansson
These defensemen may be further away, but gaining the eyes of scouts in their current roles is only aiding their overall value.
Forwards wise the Bruins have lots of talented prospects playing in the NCAA. The bulk of these prospects are centers, but there are a few standouts on the wings.
The list of Bruins center prospects is deep. Which is a positive sign for an NHL team with a core of centers over 30. Among the crop of centers:
- Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (NCAA): This Boston University Terrier is leading the way for the currently #1 ranked team. With 24 points in 23 games (10 goals 14 assists) JFK is in the conversation for the Hobey Baker award.
- Ryan Fitzgerald (NCAA): Wearing the “C” for the Boston College Eagles, this North Reading, MA native has hockey in his blood. His father Tom Fitzgerald was a 17-year NHL journeyman. In addition, his cousins include Jimmy and Kevin Hayes and Keith and Matthew Tkachuk. I’d hate to be involved in his family reunion roller hockey tournament.
- Ryan Donato (NCAA): A sophomore at Harvard University, Donato has led the way with 19 points in 19 games (10 goals 9 assists). He is credited by eliteprospects.com for “thinking the game at a high level.” Of course as a student at Harvard he will always have to carry that compliment with him.
- Peter Cehlarik (AHL): Leading the way for the Providence Bruins with 18 goals and 12 assists for 30 points in just 36 games. Cehlarik has shown his production at the AHL level and at only 21 still has time to grow into an NHL contributor. The ability to score goals translates to every league no matter the level. That’s the good thing about Cehlarik.
- Jake DeBrusk (AHL): Playing the left side for the P-Bruins, DeBrusk was the 14th pick in the 2015 draft. He has good size and plays a game closer to a Power Forwards mentality. Posting 11 goals and12a assists for 23 points in the teams 42 games DeBrusk still has a lot of time to develop before needing to be called upon.
- Zach Senyshyn (OHL): Senyshyn is a 19 year old that plays in the Ontario Hockey League for the Marie Greyhounds. He sports an “A” for the team and may be one of the Bruins most gifted scorers as far as prospects go. He has 40 points in 37 games with an impressive 28 goals. Senyshyn seems like another smart offensive winger that can carry a lot of value as a natural scorer.
The future looks bright when you look into the Bruins prospects and see their statistics. We have multiple prospects that are extremely VALUABLE.
With That Being Said
Those prospects hold a lot of value out on the open market. Along with he upcoming 1st and 2nd round picks we have in the 2017 Draft the Bruins can make a lot of things happen with their young assets.
Outside the prospect pool the Boston Bruins have some pieces on their NHL club that carry value and don’t seem to fit in the current plan of the team.
Most Notably: Ryan Spooner. One of the SIX centers that play on a nightly basis for the Bruins. With NHL experience all while still being young.
Also: Colin Miller. With age and experience under Miller’s wing, the value is held in potential for this D-man.
Both of these current pieces of the Bruins team are still young and their value on the trade market lies in their potential still not being discovered. In addition, neither of these pieces are going to have a negative impact on the team (i,e, the Seguin trade, the Hamilton trade, the Kessel trade, the Thornton trade…OKAY I’LL STOP) like seen previously. Spooner and Miller can be valuable to young teams who are outperforming expectations and looking for a right now addition that holds the same identity as their current roster and team.
Filling the Holes
When you look at the Bruins current lines you can find holes in the their top six forwards and top four defensemen. Additions in those areas can change the performance of the team as a whole.
For the time being this season, let Carlo play alongside Zdeno Chara in the top pairing. He will continue to grow and flourish in his rookie campaign. It is a good sign to see a prospect translate to the NHL and find success. Your next pairing of Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid both fit this team in a long term outlook. Krug’s had an outstanding last month and a solid season, he belongs as top-4 defensemen on this team but the whole to fill is who plays on the right side of him. You need another defensemen that can play top-4 minutes and hold down either the Power Play or the Penalty Kill. McQuaid slides down in the third pairing and play alongside either Kevin Miller or John-Michael Liles. If you add a top-4 defensemen to patch up those pairings, your defensemen core becomes much more suitable than it is currently.
I believe the first line of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak is set in stone for the next 5 years (at least). The issue comes on that second line. You have David Krecji centering alongside David Backes currently. Your opposite wing has seen a combination of Frank Vatrano, Matt Beleskey, Tim Schaller, Austin Czarnik and Jimmy Hayes. But none of these guys have stuck and made it work. I personally believe this is because none of the score the way a player in that position has too. Alongside an amazing offensive facilitator in Krejci and a two-way workhorse in Backes that opposite wing position must belong to a cold-blooded sniper. He will get the puck where he wants it and have his chances on a nightly basis.
Your bottom six forwards should take shape after you solidify your top two lines. They can begin to gel without worry of bouncing around again. Riley Nash is serviceable and you could find some success with character guys like Beleskey and Hayes on either side. For the fourth line I like what Dom Moore brings to the team, he is gritty and scores the ugly ones. Alongside him you can have the youngsters whom deserve honest chances at cracking the roster for tryouts from time to time.
Finding the right players to fill those holes will not be an easy task. When bringing in these players a new issue will arise in maintaining the salary cap. Good news is that the Chara cap hit falls after this season.
If the Boston Bruins are going to truly commit to winning then they must go out and make these real moves. Instead of plugging in AHL players to holes we have had for years we must go out and get “the guy” to fill them for good. But there is no reason to make these moves to acquire short-term solutions. These acquisitions must be studs that are difference makers and change the feeling that sits in the pits of all Bruins fans.
Luckily, as an organization we have more than enough valuable assets to acquire those players from teams. We must just wait to see how cards fall and for there to be a mutual want between the Bruins and trade partners.
Throwing Them Out There
Some names that could fit include:
- Jeff Skinner
- Gabe Landeskog
- Jonathon Drouin
- Gustav Nyquist
- Ty Barrie
- Alexander Edler
- Kevin Shattenkirk
We will see, but for now…hopeful