In just a couple weeks, the Boston Bruins will begin training camp for the 2022-23 season at Warrior Ice Arena. There will be a lot of familiar faces in late September with general manager (GM) Don Sweeney running it back with basically the same roster that lost Game 7 of their first-round playoff series to the Carolina Hurricanes last May.
With the season opener on Oct. 12 against the Washington Capitals just over a month away, it’s never too early to look at the upcoming season for the Black and Gold. This season, there will be several milestones that could be reached by nearly a dozen Bruins during the 82-game grind that is another NHL season.
When the puck is dropped on opening night, Brad Marchand will not be in the lineup for first-year coach Jim Montgomery as he will be out for the first two months recovering from double hip surgery this summer. When he returns, there are going to be three milestones within reach for the veteran left wing.
Marchand is 26 games played away from 900 for his career and just five points away from 800. Another milestone that is within reach is 200 career power play points. Needing 21 points to get there, if he was fully healthy, there’s no doubt that he would get there, but missing time at the beginning of the season will make it close and tougher to achieve.
When the Bruins skated off the ice following their Game 7 loss to the Hurricanes, it sure felt like Patrice Bergeron’s career could very well be over. In June it was reported that he was coming back for another season and in early August he confirmed it when he agreed to a one-year deal that is incentive-based.
Bergeron is 18 points away from being the fourth player in franchise history to record 1,000 career points. One of the game’s better playmakers, he is 18 assists shy of 600 for his career and he will look to begin the march toward 600 helpers without Marchand.
In November last season, it was revealed that Jake DeBrusk requested a trade through his agent from the Bruins, but following the firing of Bruce Cassidy, the 14th overall pick of the 2015 Entry Draft rescinded his request in July after he signed a two-year, $8 million contract extension in March (from ‘Jake DeBrusk, content with the Bruins again, rescinds trade request,’ The Athletic, 7/6/22). After excelling on the first line with Marchand and Bergeron, the 25-year-old has three milestones that he can reach.
DeBrusk is eight goals and 16 assists away from 100, and 24 points away from 200. Last season he had 25 goals and 17 assists and if he repeats those numbers this season, he would eclipse all three milestones.
One year after leaving in free agency in the summer of 2021 to play in his home country of the Czech Republic last season, David Krejci returns to Boston like Bergeron on a one-year contract that is filled with incentives. Upon his return, he might have the two best linemates he’s had wearing the Black and Gold with Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak on his side most likely.
Krejci begins the season like Bergeron closing in 1,000 career games played as he begins the season 38 games away from that milestone. Returning to Boston means he returns to the power play that can throw some serious talent over the boards. He is nine points away from 200 career power play points, something he should pass this season and if he has a good season, he is 70 points away from 800, and playing with Hall and Pastrnak can go a long way toward achieving that milestone.
Speaking of Hall, he will begin his second full season in Boston and on the verge of three milestones. The former Hart Trophy winner in 2018 with the New Jersey Devils is 39 games away from 700, 14 power play points away from 200, and 43 points away from 700. If Hall can reach all three, that would go a long way toward helping the Bruins get where they want to go, the Stanley Cup playoffs.
This going to be a big season for Pastrnak and the Bruins in more ways than one. The biggest question is surrounding his contract situation as he enters the 2022-23 campaign in the final year of his deal. Sweeney would like to get a deal done before the season begins, but if he goes into the season with an extension, things could get very interesting.
Pastrnak begins the season with 36 assists shy of 300 and eight game-winning goals short of 50. Last season, he collected nine game-winning goals, and seeing him reach that number again would not be a surprise.
It has been an up and down two seasons in Boston for Craig Smith, but he enters the season in the final year of his contract with three milestones he is chasing down. He is 11 games away from 800 for his career, two points shy of 400, and nine goals short of 200. All three are well within reach for the former Nashville Predator, who has struggled at times the last two seasons finishing around the net.
The Bruins certainly hope Nick Foligno’s second season in Boston is better than his first. It can’t be any worse. After signing a two-year, $7.6 million contract, the veteran forward had two goals, 13 points, and a plus/minus of minus-13. After declining to buy him out over the offseason, the 34-year-old enters the season six assists shy of 300 and one point away from 500.
After being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline in March, Hampus Lindholm battled injuries at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs. Forced out of the lineup, the Bruins will need him to be healthy to begin this season with Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk sidelined recovering from offseason surgeries.
As he enters his 10th NHL season, Lindholm is nine games away from 600 in his career and 30 assists short of 200. With McAvoy out of the lineup, Lindholm should get some time on the first power play unit with a chance to increase his assists number.
In July, the Bruins acquired Pavel Zacha from the New Jersey Devils for Erik Haula. Zacha has been someone on Sweeney’s radar at the last two trade deadlines before he was able to land him this summer. The sixth overall pick of the 2015 Entry Draft will have a chance to reach two milestones in 2022-23 if he stays healthy. He is 14 games away from 400 for his career and 21 points away from 200. With a golden opportunity to begin the season in the top-six, it would be disappointing if Zacha did not get the 21 points he needs. If that happens, the Black and Gold could be in trouble.
A new season brings new milestones. There are going to be several milestone watches from the beginning of the season, but missing three key players to begin the season, if some of the milestones can’t be reached, then the 2022-23 Boston Bruins could be in trouble in the standings until they get healthy.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.