The Bruins reconvened at Warrior Ice Arena this weekend to begin a training camp that holds more significance than others in past years. General manager Don Sweeney opted not to make any significant additions to the roster this offseason despite multiple openings in the lineup, indicating that he will be looking for solutions from within the organization.
Since naming Sweeney GM in May 2015, the Bruins have selected 11 players within the first two rounds of the NHL Draft. The abundance of draft picks has resulted in a stockpiling of talent, with many of the players appearing to near NHL readiness. Now, it is time to see how well some of them will pan out.
The two drastic holes in the lineup are on the right side of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and on the left side of David Krejci and David Pastrnak. Through three days of on-ice training, the team clearly has its ideas of who to use in each of those positions.
Former Notre Dame standout Anders Bjork skated alongside Bergeron and Marchand and looked extremely comfortable right out of the gate. Bjork is a speedy winger who uses his agile skating ability and skillful stickhandling to generate offense, allowing him to sync well with Bergeron and Marchand’s playing styles.
This connection was amplified on Sunday afternoon when Bjork connected with Bergeron for a beautiful goal during a two-on-two drill, resulting in a loud “oohhh” from the crowd.
The preseason will give us a better idea of how Bjork will handle playing at the NHL level, but right now, it would be surprising to not see this trio on opening night.
As for the slot on the Krejci line, the first look was given to 2015 14th overall pick Jake DeBrusk. Coming off of his first season as a professional in the AHL, DeBrusk’s skill set could complement Krejci’s pass-first mentality. The 20-year-old left wing loves to shoot the puck, and he finished last season with 19 goals and 30 assists despite a slow, snakebitten start.
In April, then Providence Bruins head coach Kevin Dean praised the progress that DeBrusk had made, telling Providence Journal’s Mark Divver, “He’s always been strong (on the puck) and greasy, but he is quicker now…He’s deceptively fast and quick. When you add some strength onto that, for a guy that’s not huge, it’s tough to contain,”
DeBrusk put an exclamation point on this quote a few weeks later by scoring a highlight-reel shorthanded goal.
About two weeks ago, Sweeney admitted he considered calling up DeBrusk at points during last season, indicating that the front office believes he is NHL ready.
More To Watch For:
- Former Boston University Terrier Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson centered Frank Vatrano and David Backes over the weekend. JFK has drawn comparisons to Bergeron due to the completeness of his game (no pressure, kid). The line worked well together, and the Stockholm, Sweden native has made a solid case for himself to play in the NHL. However, recently-signed center Ryan Spooner may cause a delay in these plans since that is his usual spot in the lineup. If he is not in the lineup to start the season, JFK will be one of the first centers to be called upon when needed.
- Charlie McAvoy was paired with Kevan Miller, while Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo were reunited. McAvoy played with Chara on the top pairing for the majority of his six-game debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, leading to speculation that this would carry over into the fall. If the current pairings transfer into the regular season, this is how the Bruins’ defense will look:
We will get a better idea of the team’s plans in the coming weeks as the preseason begins. The Habs come to town Monday night for the first preseason game, which likely will not feature many regulars. Either way, it’s the best time of the year. Hockey is BACK!