It’s Mailbag Time!
The first Boston Bruins Mailbag of the 2021-22 season for The Hockey Writers is here. You ask the questions and I will answer them. Let’s fire it up.
Will the Bruins Trade For a Second-Line Center This Season?
This will be a wait-and-see approach. Charlie Coyle, as long as he stays healthy, will get the shifts between Taylor Hall and Craig Smith. If there is an injury then Jack Studnicka would get called up from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) and either center the second-line or Erik Haula could slide up from the third line to the second line and Staudnicka could slot between Nick Foligno and Jake DeBrusk.
In the offseason, Sweeney had a chance to make a move for a second-line center and the Bruins were linked to Christian Dvorak before he was dealt by the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadiens. It appears that Sweeney’s plan this offseason was to not make a trade for a second-line center and begin camp and the season with Coyle or Studnicka. Depending on what happens between now and the trade deadline could obviously change the thinking, and a deal could be made.
Is Jeremy Swayman Ready to Be a No. 1 Goalie?
It is easy to see why Swayman could be thought of as a No. 1 goalie, even at 22 years old. He is playing with a ton of confidence and does not appear to be afraid of the moment. He is aggressive challenging shots and does a nice job of controlling rebounds. Wednesday night in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, it was the first outing in his career where he looked shaky. Granted the team in front of him did not play well, there were a couple of goals that Swayman would like to have back.
What the Bruins have to be careful with is avoiding Swayman losing his confidence. It has happened to other young goalies in the past, something the Bruins clearly want to avoid. Signing Linus Ullmark will take some of the pressure off of Swayman in terms of games played, but things get sticky if Tuukka Rask comes back in the middle of the season. The Bruins right now seem to have found a diamond in the rough in Swayman.
Which Player the Bruins Lost This Summer is the Biggest Loss?
This is an easy one. David Krejci leaving to continue his career in the Czech Republic is the biggest loss. It was somewhat of a surprising move considering that he was going to begin the season with the best two wings in Hall and Smith that he would have begun the season with in a long time. I get it though, he wanted to be closer to his family as his career is on the back end.
Losing Jeremy Lauzon in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft is a big loss as well. A young physical blueliner that was the Bruins’ best penalty-killer with an NHL upside is someone the Bruins would like to have back. The other losses are replaceable. Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase were not given qualifying offers, which told them that the team was going in a different direction. Ritchie was an up and down player and Kase just never was able to get his feet under him in Boston with all the injuries he dealt with. Remaking the bottom-six was a priority this offseason and the Bruins chose to do it in free agency.
After a Good Training Camp and Preseason, Are We Going to Be Let Down By Jake DeBrusk Again?
In his first three seasons in the league, DeBrusk has proven that he can be at least a 20-goal scorer. Last season, not so much. In 2017-18, he had 16 goals, then he had a career-high 27 goals in 2018-19 and 19 more in 2019-20. He had just five goals in 41 games last season. It was a strange 2020-21 season for everyone with realigned divisions and a 56-game shortened season. It seemed every time he took the ice, he was not playing with any confidence.
I have said since the Bruins signed Haula and Foligno in free agency that these veteran signings could be just what DeBrusk needs for a bounce-back season. Foligno was injured in Wednesday’s loss to the Flyers, so we will see how that affects the line. So far, the results have been promising, and don’t be surprised to see DeBrusk get his second career 20-goal season. It’s early, but so far so good. He seems to be playing at a different level and appears to be playing with less pressure and more confidence. How much success the Bruins have this season will depend on just how well this line plays. I would be very surprised if DeBrusk has another season like the one he went through last season.
Will Taylor Hall Score 30 Goals This Season?
No. He has the talent to, but I think that is a high number for him to reach without Krejci. If Krejci was back, then it’s a different story. In his career, Hall has scored 30-plus goals just once, in 2017-18 with the New Jersey Devils, when he scored 39 goals on his way to winning the Hart Trophy. I do believe he will be a 20-goal scorer this season, but between 20-25. The Bruins will take that, especially if the third line is able to give them more production than in seasons past.
That wraps up the first Bruins Mailbag for the 2021-22 season at The Hockey Writers. Got a question? Feel free to drop it anytime to me on Twitter (@sroche35) or leave it below in the comments section and I will answer it in the next mailbag.
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.