In this edition of Boston Bruins News & Rumors, Brad Marchand gave his thoughts on the many moves his team has made this offseason. One of those moves involved re-signing Taylor Hall, who spoke this past week on what it will be like to play without David Krejci this upcoming season. One player looking to replace Krejci is Jack Studnicka, who has reportedly been training very hard this summer to earn a full time role with the Bruins. Last, but not least, longtime Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara is not ready to hang up his skates just yet, as he signed a one-year deal with the New York Islanders to play in what will be his 24th NHL season.
Marchand Excited for 2021-22 Season
It has been a very busy season for the Bruins, who will be without two long-time members of their team to begin the 2021-22 season in Krejci and Tuukka Rask. Despite the big losses however, general manager Don Sweeney was able to make some good free agency signings, which has Marchand excited for the upcoming year.
“This is a little bit different than where we’ve been in the past,” Marchand said to reporters on Friday. “We always have turnover and every year it’s part of the business, guys come and go. But to have some of the guys leave out of our core group that we’ve had here for a long time, it’s a bit of a different feeling.
“But there’s a lot of excitement around our team. We know we’re very deep and we have a great opportunity this year. I think there’s a lot of excitement around the guys coming in and the opportunity they’re going to have.”
Despite the significant changes, the Bruins are expected to be a very competitive team once again in 2021-22, and the 33-year-old Marchand is a big reason why. In 53 games last season, he scored 29 goals and 69 points, and no one should be surprised to see him score at a similar pace this year.
Hall Not Focused on Linemates
When the Bruins acquired Hall from the Buffalo Sabres at the 2021 trade deadline, they stuck the 29-year-old on the wing with Krejci, and the two seemed to find chemistry almost instantly. After struggling with the Sabres, Hall appeared rejuvenated with the Bruins, posting eight goals and 14 points in 16 games. With Krejci’s departure, Hall will be playing with a new centermen for the 2021-22 season, but isn’t too worried about who it may or may not be.
“It doesn’t really change my preparation for the year,” Hall said on Friday. “My job is to come in and play as well as I can. Whatever line I’m slotted in, hopefully I can drive that line like I have in the past. Whoever the centerman is, I imagine I’ll play with Smitty on the right side. I think we can work with anyone.
“In signing here, I never had a guarantee that Krejci was gonna be back. I just wanted to play for this team and help this team win a Stanley Cup hopefully at the end of the day. Whatever I have to do to contribute to that is what I’ll do. I’m sure Smitty and whoever we’re playing with feels the same.”
While Hall did play quite well in his short stint with the Bruins last season, his play prior in both the 2020-21 and 2019-20 seasons were not up to his usual standards, leading to some questions on whether or not he is still the same player he was back in 2017-18 where he won the Hart Trophy. He has a chance to end those doubts with a big 2021-22 campaign.
Studnicka Hoping for Breakout Season
Since being taken in the second round (53rd overall) in the 2017 draft, Bruins fans have been well aware of the talent Studnicka has. After an impressive rookie season with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2019-20 in which he had 49 points in 60 contests, many expected him to be a regular NHLer in 2020-21.
Unfortunately that never happened, as the now 22-year-old found himself in and out of the lineup, and also spent some time in the AHL. That has clearly motivated the talented centerman, who has reportedly been training very hard this offseason in hopes of becoming an every day player at the NHL level. In fact, Ryan Mougenel, the head coach of the Providence Bruins, spoke on how Studnicka has changed this offseason.
“Just staying in town and making that commitment to getting bigger and getting stronger, for him it’s visible. I was shocked,” Mougenel said when asked about Studnicka. “I hadn’t seen him in a couple weeks. He’s definitely put the work in of taking the message of getting bigger and stronger.”
As mentioned, there is currently a vacant opening for the second line center position with the Bruins. While Charlie Coyle appears to be the favorite to land that role as of now, a great camp from Studnicka could change that.
Chara Heading Back to Long Island
After taking plenty of months to ponder his future, Chara has decided to come back for another season, as the 44-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Islanders. The veteran of 1608 career games began his NHL career in Long Island, playing 231 games with them before being traded to the Ottawa Senators.
After four seasons with the Senators, Chara signed as a free agent with the Bruins and went on to play 14 seasons with them. During that time he was able to lead them to a Stanley Cup and also won a Norris Trophy in 2008-09. Whenever he does finally decide to call it a career, he is a lock for the Hall of Fame.