It’s hard to believe, but we are just a month away from our first Boston Bruins game for the 2021-22 season. After a 56-game shortened 2020-21 season, the NHL is back with its normal 82-game schedule, which also includes the league’s 32nd team, the Seattle Kraken.
With a new season upon us, the Black and Gold made some offseason moves to put themselves in a position to be a contender for the Stanley Cup this season. With an aging core of veteran players, the championship window is closing and closing quickly. With that said, the Bruins enter the season with visions of winning their first championship since 2011, and to do so, they will need some players to step up. A roster that has numerous veterans mixed in with some young talent, here are three players that could take home hardware following the season.
Patrice Bergeron – Selke Trophy
The Bruins’ second-year captain is closing in on history at 36 years old. Bergeron has won the Selke Trophy (giving to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game) four times, which ties him with Bob Gainey of the Montreal Canadiens, who won the award for four consecutive seasons in the late 1970s. Over the last 10 seasons, Bergeron has been a finalist for the trophy and last won it in 2016-17. Last season, Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers won his first award, beating out Bergeron and Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights.
If there’s one thing you can count on each season, it’s Bergeron being in the running for the Selke Trophy. Despite entering his 18th season with the Black and Gold, he is still one of the top two-way forwards in the league. He is in the final year of his contract and recently said that he will play out the season before making a decision about next season. It would be a shame if he does not win the award at least one more time to go down with the most in history. There is no one more deserving than Bergeron.
Charlie McAvoy – Norris Trophy
At just 23 years old, McAvoy is entering his fifth season with the Bruins and the right-shot is quickly moving up the ranks of the top defensemen in the league. He finished in the top 10 the last two seasons for the Norris Trophy (giving to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position). In 2019-20, he finished 10th, before finishing fifth last season.
When Torey Krug left in free agency following the 2019-20 season and former captain Zdeno Chara went to the Washington Capitals, McAvoy was looked at as the new leader on the blueline and the former Boston University standout did not disappoint. In 51 of the 56 Bruins games last season, he had five goals, 25 assists, and logged 24 minutes a night of ice-time. In each of his first four seasons, there has been growth in his game and there’s no question he is making a case to be one of the top defensemen in the NHL.
Last season, Adam Fox of the New York Rangers won the award and there are other young players that are beginning to make a name for themselves in the league along with McAvoy. Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche finished second to Fox, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning was third, and former Carolina Hurricane and current New Jersey Devil Dougie Hamilton was fourth.
Those are some names of some very good blueliners, but there is no doubt that McAvoy will break through and be a finalist sooner rather than later. In a contract year, expect McAvoy to take his game to another level for the Bruins. Why can’t this be the season McAvoy breaks through and wins the award?
David Pastrnak – Maurice “Rocket” Richard Award
When the NHL paused the 2019-20 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pastrnak was tied with Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals with 48 goals with 12 games remaining. Over the final month of the season, it was going to go down to the wire as to who would claim the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (given annually to the leading goal-scorer). When the NHL announced its return to play plan, the remainder of the season was canceled, which meant Pastrnak and Ovechkin shared the award.
Over the course of his first seven years in the league, Pastrnak has slowly become one of the top goal-scoring right wings. He saw an increase in goals over four seasons from 34 in 2016-17 to a career-high 48 in 2019-20. Last season in 48 games, he scored 20 goals, but he missed the first seven games as he recovered from offseason surgery. Not only is he dangerous 5-on-5, but he is a big reason as to why the Bruins’ power play is annually ranked in the top 10, if not higher. Sixty-eight of his 200 career goals have come on the man advantage. Playing on a line with Brad Marchand and Bergeron helps too.
Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs won the award in last season’s shortened season with 41 goals, but there is no question that a healthy Pastrnak could be in the running for the award at the end of the season. He did it once, who’s to say he can’t again at 25 years old and in the prime of his career?
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It would not surprise anyone if the Bruins took home some awards following the season and don’t be surprised if these three are in the running for hardware. All three are more than capable of winning an award, with Bergeron and Pastrnak already winning and McAvoy climbing the ranks in the voting.