Boston Bruins 2016-17 Season Preview

2016-nhl-draft-preview_

It’s September, and we are finally starting to approach the one month mark until NHL action begins.

The Bruins have their first home game on October 13th, playing the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

So, get ready to take those nights off work and clear those schedules!

(I already know that I will be off work haha)

This past offseason, GM Don Sweeney raised some eyebrows (mine included) regarding how he used our cap space and did nothing to really benefit our team for the upcoming season.

If you start to really look at the offseason transactions, they really aren’t that bad.

Yes, we didn’t gain any defense, but they still aren’t that bad.

First, the biggest signing was forward (and pig lover) David Backes from the Saint Louis Blues. Backes was fourth on the team in scoring and lead the Blues in penalty minutes (83). In 79 games played, he had 21 goals and 24 assists, totaling 45 points.

Fun Fact: Zac Rinaldo (ugh) had 83 penalty minutes also, but played only 52 games!

we already won there!

Here is what I like: While Sweeney didn’t acquire any defense this offseason, he gained a defensive forward in Backes. He plays a similar style to Bergeron (Bergeron is better, though), but I consider this an upgrade. He doesn’t replace Loui Eriksson, but he does fill that hole we needed to fill.

Backes is also a very versatile player because he can play multiple positions. This is kinda what I liked Chris Kelly for, but Backes is obviously a better version of Kelly. Backes can play both center and right wing, and could fit as a third line center, or as a winger on the Bergeron-Marchand line. The line of Marchand-Bergeron-Backes could prove to be a great line for the B’s, as that line has been missing a piece since losing Seguin via trade in 2013.

Backes is no Seguin either, but could be the missing piece on that line.

Here is what I (DON)’t like:

you like the pun, don’t you?

I don’t agree with the contract length. This is something kinda small to argue, but it is really long for his age. We don’t have him till he’s 40 (Chara) but we have him for 5 years until he is 37. The way he plays can prove to make his play decline rapidly, which kinda  scares me.

 

Also this offseason, we signed Riley Nash from Carolina and Anton Khudobin from Anaheim. I enjoy the fact that we are going to have depth in the goal, but is it really necessary?

In the system, we have Tuukka (who obviously is the starting goaltender), Dobby, Malcolm Subban (who Don seems to forget about), and Zane McIntyre. We also have a young prospect in Daniel Valdar.

Subban has been in the system for a while now, when is it his chance to shine?

While we did see him in action against the Blues in 2015, we haven’t seen much from him after that. Last season in the AHL, he posted a 14-8-5 record, with a .911 SV% and 2.46 GAA. This isn’t that bad, as I consider the AHL to be a high shooting league, and I attend games in Texas on the regular.

Anton Khodobin spent time in the AHL last season as well (I saw him play with the Gulls) and he posted similar numbers to Subban. He posted a 19-8-3 record, with 2.46 GAA and .921 SV%. The Gulls lost in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs and beat the Texas Stars (cries) in the first round. The Providence Bruins also made the playoffs (and lost in the first round), but Subban did not take part in playoffs, as he was still recovering from his larynx injury. Jeremy Smith and McIntyre took care of the Baby B’s during playoff time.

Goalies take a while to develop to be NHL caliber, but leaving one in the AHL long enough can stunt development and growth (see: Jack Campbell). But, I would love to see him have a game or two of NHL action this season to see what he has been working on and for him to know what needs to be worked on.

Lastly, I want to discuss the last signing from the offseason, and that one is the signing of former New York Ranger Dominic Moore. This signing was later in the offseason, and because of that, it caught me by surprise.

This is a low impact deal. Moore will be receiving $900,000 for the next year. This is a pretty decent deal for a veteran presence on the fourth line that has been a mixed bag since the departures of Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille, and Greg Campbell.

The Bruins brought a good ol Harvard boy home!

Anyway, Moore played 80 games last season, and scored 6 goals and totaled 9 assists. He’s not the savior we were looking for (like Vesey lol), but he could prove to be a good fourth liner, and the Bruins really need that line consistent again. That hurt them last season, especially with the Kelly injury that had him out all last season. Moore could be a great replacement for Kelly, centering on the fourth.

With all the new additions rounded up, let’s discuss lines!

FORWARD:

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As for the first line, Bergy and Marchy gotta stay together. The Bruins need that chemistry in order to have a successful first line. Backes would be great on the right wing, and can compliment Bergeron’s defensive play.

For the second line, Krejci needs a physical winger. He has always had Lucic on his wing, until the Kings trade. Beleskey is the perfect fit, and they showed great chemistry together last season. Having Pasta and Krejci together is great too, and they also showed great chemistry. Krejci also acts as a veteran to Pastrnak, as he is still kinda new to the NHL.

The third line is something I may see, but Claude may not. While CJ may play the vets on this line, I want to use this line to showcase our up and coming players that are ready for the NHL and show our future as a team. Frank Vatrano had a fantastic rookie season last year and has shown that he can be ready for a full-time job in the NHL this season. Griffith has shown tremendous growth in the AHL, and through various NHL stints, he has shown that he can compete for a job in the NHL next season.

The fourth line is meant for grit and physicality, not showing prospects and giving them a chance to grow. Dominic Moore has the stats and the veteran presence to work on the fourth line. Jimmy Hayes brings that little bit of scoring to that line but is also very physical. Riley Nash is someone I don’t know much about. Nash is a very reliable, and not flashy, but he plays the offensive game well.

DEFENSE:

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-9-20-28-pm

The first pairing of Chara and Chiller is kinda similar to the pairing last season with Chara and Trotman. Chara is our best complete defenseman, and as a veteran, he needs that young gun to mentor. Colin Miller is that young gun. Last season, Colin Miller wasn’t used properly, and often sat in the press box or played bottom pairing minutes. WithZach Trotman and Dennis Seidenberg gone, this can be his time to shine and claim a full-time NHL job.

Torey Krug has to have a bigger, physical defenseman on his pairing due to his sparks of offense and size. This pairing of Krug and McQuaid was used a lot last season, mostly because it was the one pairing that actually kind of worked.

While Liles isn’t a flashy player, he does work his butt off on the ice when needed. This is needed when you are going to be paired with Kevan Miller. While Kevan Miller has proven to be a physical player (by breaking Joe Vitale’s face), he has had multiple mistakes on the ice that could have cost a team the game. Killer makes the mistakes and Liles is going to be there to try to correct them. It’s a win win (I hope).

Here is Killer breaking faces like a boss:

 

The goalies are kinda easy and common sense.

Tuukka is going to be number one, with Anton Khudobin as the backup.

Duh.

That is the preview for the 2016-17 preview!

Making lines is kinda like a puzzle, you want to have the players in places that make sense, while also utilizing their skills properly.

I’m pretty stoked for this season, and the offseason kinda went by fast, which is good.

See ya next month!

^AHC

 

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