By: Spencer Fascetta Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey
With the season right around about 10 corners and 2 months out, I decided to use CapFriendly’s ArmChair GM feature and experiment with what I believe the Bruin’s roster will realistically look like come Opening Night of the 2017-18 season. Ryan Spooner was just resigned to a new 1-year deal, and David Pastrnak is still negotiating his first contract extension, and both of them figure primarily into what I did.
To begin with, I decided to sign Pastrnak to a 6-year contract, with an AAV of $6.25 million a season. This is based on recent reports that he is looking for a number around $6 million per year over the aforementioned 6-year timeframe. With Pastrnak in the fold, my second move was to deal the recently signed Ryan Spooner. In my opinion, Spooner was only signed because it is easier to trade him while he is under contract than to trade his negotiating rights, and he no longer appears to have a concrete role in the Bruins’ lineup. I found a deal that I think works for both teams. Spooner was dealt to the Arizona Coyotes, giving them a youngish, dynamic offensive centerman to help ease the transition of Clayton Keller and Dylan Strome. In return, Boston received veteran forward Brad Richardson, who is under contract for only the one season at a cap hit barely above $2 million, minor leaguer Mike Sislo, and Minnesota’s 2018 2nd Round Pick, which was previously acquired by the Coyotes in the Martin Hanzal trade. Richardson provides some veteran depth in the bottom 6, something this team is in desperate need of and is only under contract until the end of the season. Sislo is a bit of media fodder, as the former New Jersey Devil and UNH Wildcat would return to New England with a decent shot at pushing for a place on the Bruins’ roster. Sislo can also be veteran depth in the bottom 6, but provides more offensive upside than Richardson, and is an excellent addition to Providence should he not make the NHL club. The pick recoups the remaining value from Spooner.
With my roster moves finally complete, I moved on to the depth chart. The obvious returnees on the front end are Bergeron, Marchand, Backes, Krejci, Pastrnak, Vatrano, Beleskey, and Riley Nash. I have Tim Schaller and the newly acquired Brad Richardson as the 13th and 14th forwards, leaving four spots potentially open. Noel Acciari seems to have the 4th line center role locked down, and Peter Cehlarik showed flashes of brilliance in his brief stint in Boston last season. I have him filling the left wing spot with Krejci and Pastrnak, leaving the Top 6 virtually untouched. That 3rd line is where things get interesting. Ideally, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson would get some time in Providence before being given the shot on the NHL roster, but he is the best option the Bruins have at center on that line. I have given him Frank Vatrano on his left, and Notre Dame alum Anders Bjork on his right, meaning 2/3 of the 3rd line are rookies. While not ideal, this line gives the Bruins’ more offensive firepower in their lineup on a game to game basis and will allow all 3 players to show their talents in a more sheltered role.
On the back end, Chara, Carlo, Krug, McQuaid, and Kevan Miller are all returning. I have McQuaid as the 7th defenseman, a role he is much better suited to than the borderline Top 4 minutes he has been receiving in recent years, so newly acquired Paul Postma slots in as the #6 defenseman. This gives Boston a more offensive counterpart to Kevan Miller on the 3rd pairing, and it could reasonably be argued that both players have the ability to dominate in a 3rd pairing role. Calder Trophy frontrunner Charlie McAvoy is slotted with Torey Krug, giving Boston a dangerous offensive pairing, while I chose to keep the Chara/Carlo pairing together, if only for continuity’s sake. Ideally, I’d like Chara paired with McAvoy and Krug with Carlo, so the team has 3 pairings with a defensively minded player and an offensively minded player. This allows the pairings to excel in the facets of the game that may come more difficulty to their partner.
In goal, anyone who wants to get rid of Tuukka Rask belongs in some sort of mental institution, so he clearly stays in the starting role. Hopefully, Anton Khudobin can play more like he did in the latter half of the season than his early work to help take some of the pressure off of Rask. Both Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre would benefit from being with the big club as full-time backups, but now that Boston has hired a full time goaltending coach for Providence, and everything does not fall on Bob Essensa, there is a little less pressure to force them into a role they are not 100% comfortable with and ready for.
These were just my predictions. Think I’m crazy? Probably. Glad you have been paying attention. But if you have any counter arguments against this lineup, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I look forward to your feedback!
To see the full roster and long-term outlook of the team based on my roster moves, please click the link below:
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