Bruins’ Offense: What Prospects Will Make the Cut?

As if the Boston Bruins aren’t dealing with enough issues with their defensive core, there are new concerns revolving around their offense. It was reported Tuesday that forward Patrice Bergeron is still suffering from some lingering groin pains and could miss some time to start. Typically, whenever it is reported that Patrice Bergeron is injured, the fans of Boston begin to panic. Alas, it doesn’t sound as though there is too much to panic about in this case.

Patrice Bergeron, NHL, Boston Bruins, Fantasy Hockey, Fantasy
Patrice Bergeron (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Bergeron reassured Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports Boston;  “[The groin issues have] been going on for a few years now and something we talked about over the summer was being able to put it in the past. I should be able to play through it. It’s been there for a long time. With the PRP shot we hope that it’s one of those things where it takes some time for it to work. It’s getting better but it’s still there a little bit. I’m feeling good and I’m feeling positive that I’ll definitely be ready for the start of the season. That’s not even an issue.”

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While there is no good scenario if Bergeron is potentially sidelined, at least the injury comes at the beginning of the season versus the end when it’s a crucial time for the Bruins veteran players to be in their best form. If nothing else, it gives Bruins prospects a little extra time to prove themselves that they deserve a spot at the NHL level.

Who Will Fill the Second Line?

One of the bigger questions surrounding the Bruins’ offense this season is who will be skating with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk? While a couple of years ago the best option would have been David Backes, that simply isn’t the case now. Last season during the playoffs we saw Charlie Coyle make his way up to the second line, but with players like Peter Celharik, Jack Studnicka and Anders Bjork making a run at a roster spot, he could have a difficult time earning it. The question becomes, who would be the best fit?

Bruins center Charlie Coyle
Bruins center Charlie Coyle (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Charlie Coyle is looking at his first full season in his hometown after a dominant playoff performance. Last season he was brought to Boston to fill a missing piece for a contending team and he rose to the occasion. He proved he was fast, a playmaker and fit the mold of the Boston Bruins with his size, grit, and heavy hitting. As the folks over at SB Nation put it, “he was a great fit after arriving here, and gave the Bruins their first effective third line in what seemed like a decade.”

Should Coyle be put in the right-wing spot alongside Krejci, that opens up a third-line center position for a guy like Jack Studnicka, who is more than deserving. Earlier this month we looked at why the Bruins should give him a shot. 

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

Studnicka is a natural center whereas players like Coyle and Kuraly have proven that they can also play successfully as a wing. While his OHL coach doesn’t think switching would be a problem, Studnicka has proven just how strong he is at center and has the numbers to back him up. In 30 games in the OHL he tallied 24 goals and 25 assists. Those are some impressive figures and prove that he has the ability to find the back of the net. He also has a strong two-way sense as well which would be extremely beneficial for keeping the consistency for an effective third line that the Bruins only recently rediscovered last season.

Two other names that come to mind when thinking about who could be placed alongside David Krejci are Anders Bjork and Peter Cehlarik. Bjork has appeared in the Spoked B for the past two seasons but hasn’t been able to remain in the lineup due to battling with shoulder injuries. This season he is looking to play in his first full season, otherwise, he could be on thin ice.

While he had impressive numbers in the junior league, he hasn’t been stellar for the Bruins in either of his stints in Boston. His first campaign (2017-18) he managed to score four goals and eight assists in 30 games and only managed to suit up for 20 games last season before re-injuring his shoulder and requiring surgery.

This season, there is a lot of stiff competition that are fighting for a roster spot – Peter Cehlarik, Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka are just a few names that will be battling for a spot alongside Bjork.

Anders Bjork Bruins
Boston Bruins left wing Anders Bjork (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

In an interview with NBC Sports reporter Joe Haggerty, Bjork stated:  “I’ve had a lot of time to get ready for this season, so I’m trying to be as prepared as I can both physically and mentally. Part of being a pro hockey player is learning to prepare the right way and do all you can to avoid injuries, and that’s something I’ve learned the hard way that I’ve got to do.”

This is Bjork’s final year of his contract, so he is going to have to prove what kind of forward he can be and really show that he’s learned how to take care of and handle his body to remain strong on the puck and produce points.

Peter Celharik isn’t a stranger to the second line after having his debut in January of last year and surprising both fans and coaching staff alike. He was fast and knew when to attack. In the first two games that he joined DeBrusk and Krejci, they controlled possession 77.1 percent of the time, out-chanced and outscored the opponent. He proved that he was patient and was able to make smart plays through the neutral zone which is something even veteran players tend to fumble with from time to time (ahem, Brad Marchand). David Krejci is a player that has always excelled with players who are strong on the puck and can break out through the neutral zone.

Cehlarik may just be the right fit.

Bruce Cassidy Looks to Ritchie and Lindholm to Fill Roster Spots

Earlier this week, coach Bruce Cassidy mentioned that he was looking at Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm to make their appearance with the NHL club this year. Ritchie was one of the only deals that the Bruins made during the offseason, signing him to a one-year deal in July. He is a strong, heavy-hitting forward that will provide a physical presence. He’s not shy to put pucks on the net but doesn’t have the strongest track record for speed or efficiency. Ritchie has always been a bottom-six forward, so proving he’s up for a top-line spot may be a bit of a challenge for him; However, Cassidy isn’t concerned.

“We’re gonna use different guys there, just like you mix guys around. I wouldn’t read too much into the lines right away,” said Cassidy. “We’ve got some guys that will compete with [Karson Kuhlman]. Obviously the first name that comes to mind is Brett Ritchie, big guy that’s played in the league.”

Boston Bruins NHL Site

Along with Ritchie, general manager Don Sweeney signed Par Lindholm to a two-year deal on July 1 shortly after losing Marcus Johansson. Originally it was thought the Lindholm would slide into Johansson’s position and be an easy transition. The forward is coming off a split season between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets, much like Johansson had, and has comparable statistics.

Johansson was scoring 1.36 points per 60 minutes played versus Lindholm scoring 1.22 points per 60. In actuality, the two are a pretty even swap and Lindholm could easily find a spot alongside Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle for the third line, if that’s how it plays out. For now, we will have to wait and see what training camp brings next week and stay tuned.