Late on Tuesday afternoon, the Boston Bruins released their official training camp roster. Camp, believe it or not, gets underway in less than a week for all 31 NHL clubs. The Bruins will have a unique camp and preseason as the club prepares to play two games against the Calgary Flames in China.
That’s why the team is divided into two groups, one which will travel across the globe and the other that will remain in Boston training for the upcoming season. Today I’ll take a look at both groups in camp along with the invites, predicting who makes the final roster and which invites get contract offers to stick with the club.
Forwards: David Backes, Martin Bakos, Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk, Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Trent Frederic, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Joakim Nordstrom, David Pastrnak, Jack Studnicka, Jordan Szwarz and Chris Wagner
Defenders: Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril
Goalies: Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak
Fans in China are going to be treated to a very strong Bruins lineup, which is awesome to see. The goal of these games is to promote the sport and help grow it. The fact stars like Marchand, McAvoy, Rask and Pastrnak are going is great to see. This should also be the first look for Bruin fans at their new goaltending tandem, as both Rask and Halak seem like locks for the big club.
On defense, I’m very interested to get a look at Moore, Vaakanainen and Zboril. Moore was a solid piece in New Jersey but I’m still surprised at the contract he got on July 1. Is he a guy the Bruins plan on playing in a third pairing role, or do they see him in their top-four? I’m also curious what kind of special teams minutes he gets. It doesn’t seem like there are a lot to go around.
As for the two youngsters, both are former first-round picks and are both players that should be pushing for NHL time soon. Zboril, a 2015 first rounder, is under more pressure in my mind. He’s got two more developmental seasons under his belt and should be close to pushing through. Although the numbers don’t pop off the page, he had a solid AHL season in Providence a year ago.
Up front, the eyes will be on the likes of Marchand, Pastrnak, Krejci, Donato and DeBrusk. I, on the other hand, will be keeping a close eye on ‘JFK’ and Trent Frederic. Forsbacka-Karlsson is a perfect breakout candidate for Boston and easily could slide into the bottom-six as a full-time center this season. Frederic is a former first-round pick who has great two-way ability and, in my opinion, isn’t far off from making the NHL either. I wouldn’t be stunned if 2018-19 was his only full AHL season.
Forwards: Noel Acciari, Patrice Bergeron, Anders Bjork, Anton Blidh, Colby Cave, Ryan Fitzgerald, Austin Fyten, Danton Heinen, Cam Hughes, Joona Koppanen, Karson Kuhlman, Sean Kuraly, Jakub Lauko, Brett McKenzie, Mark McNeill, Marcel Noebels, Cedric Pare, Tanner Pond and Zach Senyshyn
Defenders: Axel Andersson, Chris Breen, Daniel Bukac, Zdeno Chara, Connor Clifton, Mark Fayne, Olivier Galipeau, Cody Goloubef, Emil Johansson, Torey Krug, Jeremy Lauzon, Joel Messner and Wiley Sherman
Goalies: Zane McIntyre, Dan Vlader and Kyle Keyser
Hometown fans will get to see longtime staples Chara and Bergeron, along with Krug early this fall. Other than that this is a very raw roster, and almost everyone will be off to Providence, Atlanta or back to their respective junior squads.
Up front, Bergeron. Acciari, Bjork, Kuraly and Heinen appear to be locks from here. Bjork is still worth watching though, because he’s another prime breakout candidate who could end up replacing Rick Nash in Boston’s top-six. This is a massive camp for him.
Zach Senyshyn is likely feeling the heat this fall and will need a strong camp. The 2015 first rounder only had 26 points in 66 games a year ago and is in danger of falling behind. He’ll need to show something early and is worth watching because of that.
Defensively, Mark Fayne sticks out. The New Hampshire native and former star at Providence College fell off the map in Edmonton after signing a big contract with the Oilers. The underlying numbers were strong however, and Fayne played well in the AHL for Bakersfield and Springfield over the last two seasons. He’s in tough to make the team, but I could see him earning a contract to provide cheap depth in the AHL.
Zane McIntyre is another young player running out of time to make something happen. He’s got to have a good camp and push Halak a bit even if a roster spot looks impossible from here.
Who Sticks, Who Signs?
Although I think Fayne has a chance to get an NHL deal, in the end I don’t think it happens for him. I could see Boston signing Marcel Noebels and letting him spend the season in the AHL to see if he develops into an NHL call-up option. After all, he did have 30 points in 52 DEL games a season ago.
As for the roster, I think it is largely already determined. In Bruce Cassidy’s shoes, here is what I would roll with heading into Washington in less than a month.
David Pastrnak – Patrice Bergeron – Brad Marchand
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Danton Heinen
Andres Bjork – Ryan Donato – David Backes
Sean Kuraly – Joakim Nordstrom – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
John Moore – Kevan Miller
Adam McQuaid and Matt Grzelcyk