After a slow and quiet 2022 offseason for the Boston Bruins, it’s time for the 2022-23 season. There was very little change over with the roster and they are running it back with a lot of the same names from last season. Boston will begin the season minus Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk who are all recovering from offseason surgeries.
Missing your leading scorer from last season along with two of your top four defensemen is not an ideal way for Jim Montgomery to begin his tenure behind the Bruins bench. If the Black and Gold are going to survive the first two months in the Eastern Conference standings to hang around for a playoff berth, they are going to need some players to step up. Here are five bold player predictions for the 2022-23 season.
Jake DeBrusk Scores 30-Plus Goals
In Jake DeBrusk’s six-year career to date, the Bruins’ 14th overall pick in the 2015 Entry Draft has not scored more than 27 goals in a season. In fact, he has eclipsed the 20-goal mark just twice, once in 2018-19 with his career-high 27 and last season when he scored 25, with a majority of that coming in the second half of the season.
He thrived over the final two-plus months of last season with Patrice Bergeron and Marchand on the top line, which included his first career hat trick against the Los Angeles Kings in March. DeBrusk will begin the season where he finished it off, on the first line on the right wing, his off-wing, something that he has been comfortable playing. Playing with Bergeron and a healthy Marchand when he returns will only help him with his offensive production. Playing under a new coach will also take a lot of weight off of his shoulders allowing him to play are more relaxed game.
Craig Smith Scores 25-Plus Goals
In five of his first nine seasons in the NHL, Craig Smith broke the 20-goal plateau with the Nashville Predators. In his first two seasons in Boston since signing as a free agent in October of 2020, he has 16 and 13 goals respectively. Watching him on a nightly basis, all indications are there that he can reach the 20-goal plateau, but he’s just been snake bitten.
This season he will most likely bounce around the top-nine for the Bruins on the right wing, but if they are going to survive the early part of the season, production from Smith is an almost must. Getting the space to shoot the puck has not been an issue, it’s been being able to find the back of the net. Like a shooter in basketball who sees the ball go through the net just a few times to get confidence, Smith can be that player in hockey and the Black and Gold will need all his production he can give them this season.
David Krejci Records 80-Plus Points
When David Krejci left following the 2020-21 season to return to his home country of the Czechia, it left a big hole in the Bruins center spot that they never really filled, despite Erik Haula playing well there following Jan. 1. He returns this season as the second line center and no matter who is next to him, he’s going to be playing potential scorers.
It’s expected that he’ll begin the season between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak and if that trio is able to play most of the season together, then some of the numbers could be off the charts. When the Bruins acquired Hall from the Buffalo Sabres in 2021, Krejci, Hall, and Smith took off as a strong second-line and produced. What could the numbers look like with a season of Hall, Krejci, and Pastrnak? It could be very good for Krejci and even be a career year.
Pavel Zacha Sets Career Highs in Goal, Assists & Points
At the last couple of trade deadlines, Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney has kicked the tires with the New Jersey Devils about acquiring Pavel Zacha. Boston’s GM has not had much luck getting him away from the Devils, but that all changed this summer when Haula was sent South for Zacha in July.
In his first six seasons with New Jersey, Zacha has yet to eclipse the 20-goal mark and his career-high for points is 36, which he reached last season. He’s going to get an opportunity early in the season to start in the top-six and whether he’s placed with Bergeron or Krejci, he is set up for success. Zacha is playing on a one-year contract for $3.5 million and knowing that he’ll be a free agent next summer should be motivation for him to produce ahead of his next payday. He has career highs in goals (17) assists (21) and points (36) which could easily be passed this season.
Hampus Lindholm Has Over 30 Assists
With McAvoy sidelined until November or December, that leaves a big offensive void on the blueline for the Bruins. One player that is capable of filling the void is Hampus Lindholm, who the Bruins acquired at the trade deadline in March from the Anaheim Ducks. He battled injury both at the end of the regular season and in the first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, but when he was in the lineup, he showed that he was not afraid to lead the break out from the defensive end and jump up into the play offensively.
Lindholm is the leading candidate to quarterback the Bruins’ top power play unit with both McAvoy and Grzelcyk out. Getting time with Pastrnak, Bergeron, Hall, Krejci, and whoever else Montgomery rolls out on the power play is going to help his stats. Boston has been lacking offense in recent seasons from their defensemen not named McAvoy and this season more than ever, they’ll need someone to step up.
It is going to be a very interesting first two months of the 2022-23 season for the Bruins. Do they have enough talent and scoring to survive until they get their players back or are they going to bury themselves in the standings? Getting some of these predictions to become reality will help them survive the early part of the season and get one of the eight Eastern Conference playoff berths.
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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.