The Bruins have a plethora of centers heading into the 2016-17 season. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci locked into the top two center spots, and David Backes expected to slide into the third-line spot, the Bruins are set up the middle. Behind those three, the B’s have even more depth at the center position – so much so that they’ll likely have natural centermen such as Ryan Spooner sliding over to the wing to clear room for less-versatile players.
However, Ryan Spooner won’t be the only one sliding over to the right wing for the Bruins this season. Riley Nash, who the Bruins signed rather quietly on July 1, is also expected to swing over to the right wing to make room for all of Boston’s centers.
Where Riley Nash Fits in Boston
As a bottom-six forward, Riley Nash isn’t a superstar scorer. He does, however, bring some production to the Bruins bottom line, which was noticeably poor last season. Over the past three years, Nash has tallied 71 points in 205 games for the Hurricanes. His career-high season came two years ago when he tallied 25 points in 68 games. He has a solid shot, and will provide comparatively-consistent production on the Bruins lowest line.
On top of that, Nash is a well-disciplined player. In his last 132 games, Nash has been penalized with just thirty penalty minutes. One area of concern, which should ultimately be thrown away, is his plus-minus rating. He’s a minus-15 over the last two seasons, however, a good portion of that can be attributed to the team he was playing for. Over the past two seasons, the Canes have a minus-66 rating as a team. Nash’s rating can be somewhat overlooked due to his team’s lack of success defensively, however, it’s a rating that will have to improve if he hopes to become a regular in the Bruins lineup.
Nash Excited for Unexpected Opportunity
Meanwhile, Nash is excited for the opportunity to play in one of the NHL’s most historic hockey cities. In the small sample size available, Nash has had success at TD Garden. He tallied two assists in a game at the Garden for the Canes last season and has called TD Garden an atmosphere he feels comfortable playing in when speaking to the Boston Herald.
You can ask anyone. There are some rinks that you feel comfortable in and Boston is one for me. I don’t know what it is — the fans, the excitement level of being in Boston — you’re more engaged. I just always seem to find my game here in Boston and hopefully I can continue that playing for the other side this time. – Riley Nash
Nash will be eager to prove to Bruins management that they made a good choice in signing the 27-year-old to a two-year, $900,000 annual contract. As a bottom-six forward, it can take time for an offer to make its way over at the beginning of free agency. The Bruins, however, extended him an offer very early on, as soon as free agency opened up on July 1. The Cornell product was thankful for the swiftness of the deal and wants to prove that it was the right call early on.
You can ask anyone in there that when you’re a free agent, the faster you can take care of it, you can enjoy that rest of the summer. You don’t want to be sitting there in August thinking about where you’re going to be, especially if you have a family and you have to move them somewhere.
So I was quite pleased to take care of it on the first day and first few hours. – Riley Nash
It’s still uncertain how much ice time Nash will see throughout the season, however, given the investment Bruins management has made, it’s likely he’ll start the season on the bottom line’s right wing. If things go well for Nash, then Boston’s fourth line will be more productive than it was last season, and will provide a deeper threat than in years past.
Cam is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Maryland. He’s the Boston Bruins Beat Writer at The Hockey Writers, and is an avid college hockey fan. Find him on Twitter @CamHasbrouck!