With the unexpected departure of David Krejci, the unknown status of injured Tuukka Rask, and a shockingly busy first day of free agency that included adding a number of top names, there are plenty of questions surrounding the Boston Bruins and how they may look next season. With so many possible lineup combinations and the team having yet to even practice together once, it would be understandable to leave fans wondering how the team may be structured in 2021-22. However, head coach Bruce Cassidy is not afraid to hint at his plans. Speaking with beat writer Eric Russo, Cassidy was open about who he sees stepping into some of the most important vacancies in the Bruins lineup.
First and foremost on the minds of most is who will step into Krejci’s role as second line center, especially after Taylor Hall was re-signed following stellar production with Krejci and Craig Smith. Well, despite some speculation to the contrary, Occam’s Razor prevails. Third line center Charlie Coyle will indeed get the first shot at centering the second line, as Cassidy called him the “obvious choice”. Coyle may be coming off of the worst offensive season of his career, but the two-way forward will be healthy this season following off-season knee surgeries and will look to return to form, which is a player whose career full-season scoring pace is 40 points. Cassidy notes that with Hall and Smith having experience playing together and Coyle and Smith also having played together, the familiarity that the three would share makes it an easy initial choice as the team’s second line. However, Cassidy does note that free agent additions Erik Haula and Tomas Nosek both play their best at center as well and could be next in line if Coyle is not a fit.
On defense, while some were content with the Bruins’ most frequent top pair of Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy, not everyone was convinced. Count Cassidy among that group. The head coach opined that the role may have been asking too much of Grzelcyk. He believes that free agent addition Derek Forbort, who plays a much more defensive and physical style, could in fact be the better match with McAvoy. Cassidy stated that between competing for that role and likely playing alongside Brandon Carlo on the top penalty kill unit, Forbort will be expected to play “big minutes”. Of course, Forbort will have to prove himself worthy, as Grzelcyk has the advantage of being the incumbent. Cassidy noted that Mike Reilly will likely continue to play with Carlo, but that too could change if Grzelcyk is bumped from the top pair.
Elsewhere on the roster, Cassidy firmly stated his support for Connor Clifton as getting the first shot as the regular third pair right-handed defenseman in the wake of Kevan Miller’s retirement. However, he also noted that youngsters Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen as well as recovering veteran John Moore all have experience playing their off side and will compete for opportunity. In the bottom-six, Cassidy offered a vote of confidence for Jake DeBrusk retaining his starting job as third line left wing, while also advocating for top prospect Jack Studnicka to get a look for a roster spot. With the versatility of additions Haula, Nosek, and Nick Foligno, there are plenty of potential combinations on that third line and there is a high likelihood of a more offensive fourth line in Boston than in years with the overflow of the third line position battle matched with the likes of Curtis Lazar and Trent Frederic. In goal, Cassidy did not just announce free agent splurge Linus Ullmark as the new starter; in fact quite the contrary. Cassidy expects Ullmark and breakout rookie Jeremy Swayman “to compete for the majority of the starts.” While Ullmark was compensated like a starter by the Bruins in both salary and term, Cassidy notes that Swayman will be given a fair chance to “come in and potentially be the No. 1.”
How it all plays out in Boston remains to be seen, but Cassidy did not hold anything back about his thought and plans for the current roster. That should give fans of the Bruins and their Atlantic Division rivals something more concrete to consider as the days tick down to the start of the regular season.
Yup and the Krejci loss makes the Hall signing horrible Coyle sucks he sucked in minny and sucked worse last yr and NOW he’s getting paid to suck Sweeney sucks as a GM he can’t draft and sure as hell doesn’t know when a player is at his expiration date and then over pay them or when to move the hell on from one like DeBrusk, Clifton, Heinen, and so many others
I’ve seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.
Thank you Homer
The Mistake of Giving Eugene Melnyk a Liver Transplant
That was a perfectly cromulent response, that embiggens the conversation.
I know, right? Damn Sweeney for not acquiring Landeskog, Tarasenko, Eichel and Grubauer, all for a 2nd round pick, two Providence players, a used skate sharpener and the rights to Lyndon Byers, and furthermore fitting them all under the cap, right? Only a sucky sucking sucker couldn’t pull that off. And if Sweeney was any good he’d have made it so my favorite used bookstore wasn’t going to close due to COVID too! Damn him!
I also suppose you were one of the many for the last 4-5 yrs were screaming to trade the overpaid useless Kreijci?
I read more posts wanting him gone – a few of us kept supporting and saying how hood he was, now 99% of posts are saying Boston are crap because he won’t play here this year.
Sit back and watch this team has consistently been at the top for the last 10-15 yrs, twice missed by 1 pt or on the tiebreaker.
Nope never said that and I said Hall will be crap with out him not the team
Well said, bruin4ever. The attitude a lot of folks have has me remembering when I moved to Springfield from Boston in 1988. Yay, I figured, an AHL team in town, and I can afford to be a season ticket holder like my grandfather was for the Bruins for 50+ years!
Well … the 88-89 Springfield Indians were a pretty bad team, a dozen games below .500 and well out of the playoffs. The team’s one star was Bruce Boudreau, and they traded him to give him a chance at a last Calder Cup. About the only thing the team was good for was fights: with the likes of Rod Dallman, Kerry Clark, Shawn Byram, Mick Vukota and Dale Kushner around, they won most of those.
And it was only then that I realized how SPOILED I’d been. For as long as I could remember, the Bruins were a strong team. I was six years old the previous time Boston had missed the playoffs. Two Cup wins, made the Finals four other times, had the league’s best regular season record five times, nine times division champions, iced over a dozen Hall of Famers. I never before experienced rooting for a hockey team that was even in *danger* of missing the playoffs.
Hey, if you’re a Bruins fan, count your damn blessings. This is a team that’s been in the Cup finals three times in the last decade. It’s had the league’s best regular season record twice, four division winners. One player’s already in the Hall of Fame, Chara, Bergeron and Rask are mortal locks to make it, and Marchand doesn’t need too many more seasons like the last few to make it too. Unless you’re a cementhead who feels that any season not involving a Cup win is abject failure, this has been a great time to be a hockey fan in Boston.
You can’t put Mark Recchi as being in the hall because he was with the Bruins he was a lock before he got here
As people like me who get mad because they don’t win the cup every year I’m sorry I want my team to be champs not just runners up I believe that’s y most fans watch sports as for the past few years ya they’ve been good but their front office has been trash their still winning believe it or not thanks to Peter Chiarelli trades and draft picks
I can’t speak for the HOF voters, but it was only during his Bruins’ tenure that I believe Recchi became a HOF’er and I love Rex.
Recchi never had a good enough “peak” to be a HOF’er. What got him in was his amazing consistency over the course of a long career, which is it’s own kind of greatness. He was still a valuable member of that 2011 team even at his age.
You need to go back and look up his stats he had 8 30+ goal season 500+ goals 1400+ assists and 2 cup’s before he even came to Boston he would’ve been in even if he never played for the B’s but I also sure glad he did he was great and a even nicer guy I’ve meet him a few times
The Mistake of Giving Eugene Melnyk a Liver Transplant
LA should have brought Forbort back instead of overpaying for an aging Edler.