3 Bruins’ Standouts From the Preseason

Just like that, training camp and the preseason has come to a close for the Boston Bruins and the start of the 2022-23 regular season is just three days away. There were plenty of storylines that came and went with the Bruins over the last couple of weeks under first-year coach Jim Montgomery. 

There were some players that had a really good preseason, while there were some that struggled, but they still find themselves on the roster heading to Capital One Arena to open the season Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals. As the Black and Gold get ready to drop the puck on another season, here are three players that stood out in the preseason.

Jack Studnicka

When David Krejci left in the summer of 2021 to return to his home country of Czechia to continue his career, the Bruins never solved the No. 2 center spot behind Patrice Bergeron. In training camp last season, Jack Studnicka did just about everything he could to earn a spot on the roster, but he was beaten out by Charlie Coyle and he began another season with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL). This season, he was not going to let that happen again.

Jack Studnicka Boston Bruins
Jack Studnicka, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Montgomery gave the 53rd overall pick in the 2017 Entry Draft every opportunity to make an impression and he did. After a subpar first preseason game on Sept. 24 against the Philadelphia Flyers, Studnicka bounced back and finished the preseason strong playing in all situations, while being strong at the faceoff dot. One of the reasons he still might be in Boston is that he is out of options he was sent to Providence and would have to clear waivers with the real possibility another team would have grabbed him.

“If you look at how he played, he’s earned the right to continue to be here…if he’s on the fourth line, he’s not a fourth-line, heavy, physical player,” said Montgomery. “We just want him first on pucks and being able to protect himself and protect pucks to gain momentum and maybe add more offense in that fourth-line position.”

Related: Bruins Make Wrong Decision Sending McLaughlin to AHL

Regardless, the 23-year-old has proven he belongs in the NHL, whether it’s on the fourth line or anywhere else in the lineup.

A.J. Greer

It was a quiet free-agent period for the Bruins because they were a cap team after general manager (GM) Don Sweeney went on a spending spree in 2021. That limited the moves that Boston’s eighth-year GM could do. He did sign some players to what appeared to be deals that would give them depth in the AHL, but A.J. Greer had other ideas.

A.J. Greer Boston Bruins
A.J. Greer, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Greer went out in the preseason, impressed from his first shift until his last shift, and really broke out with a pair of goals in a 3-2 overtime win over the New York Rangers on Sept. 27. He is not going to light up the scoresheet, but he plays with a chip on his shoulder, does a lot of the dirty work you expect from your bottom six forwards, and plays with a lot of grit. The 25-year-old is the type of player the Bruins have been looking for in the bottom of their lineup.

Mike Reilly

If the Bruins were healthy on defense to begin the season, there is a good chance that Mike Reilly would have been one of the many left-shot blueliners on the roster that would have been traded. Instead, with Matt Grzelcyk recovering from offseason surgery, he’s needed for the first couple of months of the season. Under Montgomery, Reilly could be a key piece of the roster early in the season as the system in place will allow him the freedom to be more offensive in the rush and that was already evident in a 5-4 win over the Rangers on Oct. 5 when he scored the game-winning goal on an offensive rush as the trailing defensemen.

When he was acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline in 2021, Reilly provided an offensive rush from the backend when he had eight assists in 15 games to close out the regular season. The Bruins were hoping for more of the same last season when they signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract, but it never happened as he struggled in his all-around game in all three zones, but if the preseason is any indication, Reilly looks like he could return to the 2021 version following the trade despite struggling in the preseason final against the New Jersey Devils Saturday night.

There were other surprises that stood out in camp, but watching these four play the way they did was a welcomed sight, considering all the questions surrounding the roster. They will play a big part in the Black and Gold trying to hang in the Eastern Conference standings without McAvoy, Grzelcyk, and Brad Marchand to begin the season.

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